Just because we aren't married yet, doesn't mean we can't love with all the same tenderness and spirit of service.
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At the weekend my colleague Brantly Millegan wrote a beautiful article called 6 Little Ways a Husband Can Start Loving His Wife Better Today.
I was extremely touched at these simple but effective ways that he had identified to love his wife concretely in their daily life together. I was touched, but at the same time left a little sad, for as a single person I thought to myself, “Wow, there’s no-one loving me like that!” and moreover: “I don’t have the opportunity to offer such spousal love to anyone.”
However, after a brief moment of self-pity, I realised: ‘Hang on. Just because I haven’t entered into the fullness of my vocation (yet!), doesn’t mean that I can’t love with all the tenderness and servitude of a wife and mother in my state of life now.’
Obviously I understand that I won’t be able to love as a spouse (in the fully conjugal sense) until I am one. With ring and everything. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t love those around me with devotion and total gift of self, like a wife does for her husband and children.
So for all you singles out there, here are 6 little ways that I have found help me to live this spousal love in my daily life, even if I haven’t quite made it down the aisle yet!
I was chatting with a single friend of mine and we got onto the topic of how it could be tempting at times as a single person to get caught up a little too much in one’s own life, since I run to my own timetable, with no family demanding my time.
She then said to me that for this very reason, she always tried to honour her commitments.
The good woman then told me about her volunteer work mentoring young people. One day she had been on a very tiring trip and on the way back home one of her friends said: “I don’t know how you can go out and do your mentoring now! I’m so tired, I’m just going straight home.” This was a married man, and my friend replied to him, “Well, you’ll get home and your wife and children will be waiting for you, and you won’t say to them, ‘No, I’m too tired for you tonight’, rather you’ll go home and spend time with them, even if you are really tired.”
She continued: “and this is the way that I’m able to love like a wife and mother. I don’t have children, but I have these young people counting on me, and even though I’m super tired, I’m going to go and spend time with them. It’s my way of loving them.”
2. Acts of charity
This obviously is not specific to single people, but I have found that in my single life, if I devote some of my time to doing acts of charity, helping those less fortunate than myself, it helps me to live in a spirit of servitude for the other, which I suppose is an attitude which is indispensible for any spouse and parent.
I was out with my friend the other night, and she said something that shocked me: “I know that with you, Carly, I always have to chase you down if I want to see you, but that’s OK as I know you love me!”
She was very forgiving.
I was dismayed because I realised that I was making no effort in that friendship, with a dear friend who I love very much indeed. I was being selfish in the relationship, since she had to do all the work.
So from now on, in my daily life, I’m trying to be more giving of myself in my relationships with other people, in particular with my friends, so I can be always more open to love.
I’m no expert in the faith; on the contrary I often feel very poor in it. But just as a parent would naturally look to cultivate the faith in their children and support their spouse in it, I find that I have the daily opportunity to be a witness in this way to my friends and family, as well as to my colleagues.
I try to be ready to answer when they have questions (or point out who might be able to respond if I don’t know the answer!); if they have doubts, to lend an ear and give my own little experience of faith if needs be.
(FOR THE WOMEN)
Edith Stein said: “were we to present in contrast the image of the purely developed character of spouse and mother as it should be according to her natural vocation, we must gaze upon the Virgin Mary.”
For the past year and a half I have tried (and sometimes failed) to keep up with saying the rosary daily. When I do manage to get the rhythm going, I find that in spending the time with Mary in this simple way, I get to know her better, in all her tenderness, humility and servitude; the perfect woman, spouse and mother. The more I discover her, the more I desire to love like her, and work towards flourishing as a true woman.
(FOR THE MEN)
Now not being a man I can’t say much, but I may just take the liberty of simply saying that I suppose spending a bit of time with Mary could also be nice for the guys in that the more they fall in love with Mary (and who couldn’t after spending a bit of time with her?!), the more – I imagine – it would help a fella, in any state of life, to love with all the tenderness that a man is made to love his wife.
(THIS ONE’S FOR THE WOMEN)
Spouse of Christ, an apostle of the divine Heart, then would each fulfil her feminine vocation no matter what conditions she lived in and what worldly activity absorbed her life.” –
So, each day I try to spend a little bit of time with Jesus in a concrete and simple way (again, I’m sure spending time with Jesus is something that the men would hardly go wrong in doing, on the contrary! but I’m speaking simply from my own feminine experience): in adoration, mass, meditating on his life in the scripture, or failing all, by simply having a chat with him before I go to bed. As the days go by, these little moments that I give to Him help me to love Him as my divine and heavenly spouse.
The more I love Christ – quite simply – the more I love.