One of the most common misconceptions about singleness is that it gives you more time. The idea is simple: because we don’t have a spouse or children, we have lots of spare time on our hands. This idea isn’t always stated outright (although sometimes it is); it can just be subtly implied in the assumption that single people can be relied upon – or worse, expected – to give more time to serving at church or helping families, or the assumption that as singles we’ll be able to help with things last minute because we’re always sitting around doing nothing.
But this isn’t true. I think as singles we often do have more flexibility with our time, but I’m not convinced we actually have more time. When you’re single, there’s only one of you to do all those things that have to be done to keep life going, things like cooking, cleaning, shopping, washing, DIY, gardening and more. It’s true that some of us will live in contexts where some of these tasks are shared (that’s my situation, and I’m very glad I rarely have to do any DIY or gardening!), but we usually still have more to do for ourselves than those who are sharing life’s tasks with their spouse.
But what I think is also often overlooked is that singles need time to invest in their relationships. We need this just as much as married people do, and in fact we may even need more time for this.
Singles need time to invest in their relationships.
All of us have a God-given need for human connection. We need the relationships where we can process what’s going on in our lives, where we can have a laugh together and experience the fact that we are loved. For those who are married, a lot of this happens in the context of the marriage relationship. (A lot, not all, because no one person can meet all of our relational needs. Even married people need good friends.)
Now, I know that married life can be hectic, especially if a couple have kids. I know that married people don’t get the chance for deep heart-to-hearts every day. But the reality is that married people will generally get many more opportunities for those connection points, both the passing conversations through the day and the less frequent deeper chats.
As singles, we have to be more deliberate about making the opportunities for our relational needs to be met. They often don’t happen in the course of everyday life, so we have to plan them into our diary. This takes time (especially if those friends don’t live right next door and we’ve got to travel to see them!)
I know what many people will be thinking at this point. Doesn’t the Bible say that singles have more time? Isn’t that why Paul thinks singleness is so great in 1 Corinthians 7? It’s a common belief, but it’s not actually what Paul says. Paul admits that marriage will bring ‘worldly troubles’ (1 Corinthians 7:28) and ‘anxieties’ (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). But he never says this is about time, rather, it’s about divided attention. The benefit of singleness, he says, is the opportunity for ‘undivided devotion to the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 7:35).
There are amazing blessings in singleness, but I don’t think more time is one of them. We may have more flexibility in how we use our time. We may have the privilege of using that flexibility to love and serve others. But it’s a myth that singles have more time.