Recently, I packed up my old bridesmaid dresses and donated the clothes to charity. I knew I would never wear the gowns again, but for years, I liked to look at them hanging in my closet. The dresses reminded me of good times and good friends. As I placed each one in the bag–including the Vera Wang I had a hard time letting go of–I recalled jumping for joy each time my girlfriends jumped the broom. Most landed on solid foundations, but some fell face first onto shaky ground. I often helped them up and dusted them off. And although most people warn against it, I think singles should give their married friends relationship advice.
1. I’m not jealous or jaded.
I want the best for my best friends. I wouldn’t give them bad advice, because I miss hanging out with them at happy hour. I know that they can no longer take part in some single activities, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do anything fun. I want them to be in happy, healthy marriages. I respect the newly built boundaries and redefined relationships.
2. I have relationship experience.
No, I have never been married, but I have been someone’s significant other and know the difference between right and wrong. Some relationship rules don’t change when your marital status does. A man should never belittle, betray or abuse a woman. I won’t sit idly by and watch someone beat the crap out of my loved one or call her out of her name. My advice isn’t less qualified than another friend’s who happens to have a ring on her finger. A single friend may have been there, done that. Her words could prevent heartache or lead to healing. If you ask for advice, I’ll give it. But just because I give it doesn’t mean you have to follow it.
3. I understand that she needs to vent.
Not every fight ends in divorce court. Sometimes my married friends just need someone to vent to about an unappreciative husband or an argument that snowballed into a big blowup on the way to work. I won’t tell my friend to run for the hills. If she does drop the D word, I let her know that I am here if she needs to talk and that she should talk to a professional. A therapist is unbiased. I know that nine times out of ten, she isn’t leaving her husband. She may leave our friendship depending on what I say, so I try to maintain a respectful boundary.
4. I realize she is grown and is capable of making her own decisions.
If a woman makes a relationship decision solely based on the advice from her single friend, than that woman should not be married. As a matter of fact, that woman shouldn’t be in any type of relationship at all. My friends and I stopped telling each other what to do when we graduated high school. We respect each other’s ability to make a decision–even if we consider it a bad one. We often share stories, seek words of wisdom and search for other perspectives. But nine times out of ten, you know in your heart what you should do. Sometimes you are looking for someone to agree with you. And other times you’re not listening to what God told you to do. Once, I told the same story to ten people. In the end, I was out of breath, mentally drained and hungry. And you know what, I could have saved a lot of time and effort if I only looked inside myself for an answer.
So I say to every married person who has turned his or her nose up to my advice, you don’t know more about love than I do–or maybe you do. One thing I do know is this: Marriage is more than a piece of paper–something many people reduce it to. It’s a covenant between you, your spouse and God. And I don’t want to come between that. I only want to support your relationship as I would support anything else in your life. You choose what stories to share, what secrets to tell and what advice to seek. I won’t give unsolicited advice, and I won’t get upset if you don’t come to me first. You should seek counsel from God and go to your spouse. But if you need to talk, I’ll always be here–even when I get married.
What do you think? Do you think singles should weigh in on their married friends relationships?