this is something i’ve been contemplating for a while and i’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

as i’ve been collecting stories for the two popular series i am running on my blog at the moment, namely, ‘Marriage through the Years’ [stories, struggles and advice from a variety of people who have been married for a differing number of years] and ‘What my Single Friends would like their Married Friends to know’, one thing keeps standing out to me: People sure have a habit of saying stupid things.

now, even at my most cynical [which i don’t think is a lot] i don’t think it is ever the case of a married person thinking to themselves, ‘Hey let’s make our single friend feel like crap.’

and we get it as well [which i discuss in my post, ‘Can’t i just enjoy this big thing first?’ where if you’re single people are constantly asking, ‘When are you going to get a girlfriend?’, then the moment you do it moves to, ‘When are you going to get engaged/married?’ and then when you get to that point, ON THE WEDDING DAY people start with little hints and suppositions tending towards, ‘So when are you going to have a baby?’

i was watching the last day of the test cricket, South Africa vs Australia [which in Americaland starts streaming at like half past midnight so it was crazy early in the morning] and as we took their 7th wicket i made my Facebook status ‘And then there were three…’ Bad move Brett Fish Anderson as within seconds there were people making baby comments. honest mistake? maybe. although if you know Val and myself and have spent any kind of time with us you are likely to know that we don’t particularly want children and so just chill people, relax.

sometimes they are stupid things, but more often they are simply ‘not-fully-thought-through things’ or ‘unkind things’ and i think i have discovered a scientific formula for why these statements come about:

People Panic.

one of my favourite Monty Python moments takes place with a conversation between two old woman [played by Monty Python men of course] where the one asks the other:
Old lady 1: Well, what’s on the television?

Old lady 2: Looks like a penguin.

[On the tv set there is indeed a penguin. It sits contentedly looking at them in a stuffed kind of way. There is nothing on the screen.]

Old lady 1: No, No, No. I didn’t mean what’s on the television set. What programme?

Old lady 2: Oh

[and a little bit later in the conversation]

Old lady 1: Perhaps it comes from next door.

Old lady 2: Penguins don’t come from next door, they come from the Antarctic.

Old lady 1: Burma.

Old lady 2: Why’d you say Burma?

Old lady 1: I panicked.

Stop Panicking People: Envoke The Silence

i really believe that a lot of the time people say stupid/hurtful/unkind/unthinking things it is simply because they panic. there is a pause in the conversation and the beginning of silence and for some unknown reason we humans fear the silence and so MUST. FILL. IT. WITH. WORDS. AND ANY WORDS WILL DO AND SO “Hey, when you going to have a baby”

“You’re putting on weight, hey?”

“Ooh, here come the grey hairs.”

“So when are you going to find yourself a girlfriend and settle down?”

“Will we be hearing wedding bells any time soon, you two?”

“There’s this guy I know who would be great for you.”

“Hi [new person I’ve just met], so what do you do?”

and so on, ad finitum… panic, panic, panic…

Why are we so scared of silence? I think because we’ve been trained that way… it is the only thing we’ve known.

…and the good news is we can train ourselves to not be so afraid of it.

With the recent ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ book study we did, one of the homework assignments was to put aside 10 to 20 minutes a day to step away from the busyness of life and rush of your day and to just be still. To be aware of the silence [or our silence at least as we take in city sounds and animals noises and neighborhood conversations and so on] And it was one of the highlights of the book study for me. I would take my lunch and sit outside on the steps of our apartment or in the back courtyard behind our place and just be still and listen and observe and be. i really want to be able to do more of that.

I have learnt to embrace and encourage silence in prayer meetings where we tend to rush to fill the void with our words and not give God a lot of space to answer. I have found that by inviting His involvement and then leaving space for Him to do so, that He generally does take us up on that.

And then something i am working on [cos it IS hard] is introducing it into conversations:

Two great pieces of advice there. 

And possibly another great piece of advice is to substitute questions for statements. As we’ve heard what single people are wanting married people to know, some things come up which seem completely confusing. “You don’t invite me to occasions with other couples because you are scared that I will feel like a third or fifth wheel.” What that shows is that there has been thought by the married person. I think that by inviting you to an occasion that only has married couples attending, you might feel out. And so the action or response is one of love. But what might be better suited and more helpful [because not all singles experience things the same, as not all marrieds experience things the same] might be a question: We’re having a dinner next week and we have two married couples and were thinking of inviting you, but didn’t want you to feel out – would that be something you’d be interested in attending?

Which is what i am trying to do with that series – get conversation happening. And at some point i am hoping to invite some married people to respond to some of the posts of my single friends and hear some of their thoughts and feelings and pain on the matter as well.

What do you think? Is more silence something that might help? Is there something as a married person that stops you asking your single friend questions to try and understand them better? Do you as a single friend to a married person feel the freedom to ask questions or share feelings in order to strengthen your friendships or at least try and figure them out?

i would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this…