I am continuing along with the series on Reasons for Prolonged Singleness. Last month, I looked at the first reason, which is when people do not have knowledge about or understand the truth of their calling to marriage. This month, I will discuss prior wounding and family of origin issues.
As I shared in the first post in this series, Jesus stated that there are only three reasons that a person does not marry (Matthew 19:10-12). These are as follows:
- They are born not capable of marriage.
- They are made not capable of marriage by others.
- They forsake marriage for the kingdom of heaven.
This entire series is predicated on the second reason, wherein a person is made incapable of marriage by others, as this is the common reason for prolonged singleness. Nowhere is this more evident than in a person’s relational past.
The Real Truth
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, every family has some level of dysfunction in it. It is genuinely a matter of degree.
I used to believe that I was a very dysfunctional person because I was single and that people who married had it more together. I do not believe that anymore; in hindsight, this was my wounded self-talk. I now see that maladjusted individuals can both marry and avoid intimate relationships because of unresolved hurts. It does, however, remain a mystery to me how and why a person chooses either of their resultant paths.
Nonetheless, childhood trauma, rejection, feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, parental divorce – as well as other issues – can affect our ability and willingness to enter a relationship with the opposite sex.
I have often shared that I suffered from a mother wound. Specifically, I always had a very tumultuous relationship with my own mother from as far back as I can remember. This wound left me with a lot of grief and hardship regarding my belief that God would give me anything good or that anyone could ever love me. In fact, I had developed a life-long pattern of attempting to prove my worthiness based on what I did – on my performance – rather than who I was. Relationships just do not work this way.
I was very broken with regards to this issue. It took a lot for God to heal me just a little bit in this area. He healed me just enough to attract and sustain a relationship with my husband to marriage. However, significantly more healing and recovery was necessary; this came through the security and sanctification that the marital relationship provided.
While you may have different issues from your childhood or previous relationships with non-familial persons, the issues can put you on a trajectory which make it difficult or impossible to sustain a spousal union. Mine was trying to earn love and prove that I was worthy of being accepted. What is yours?
A Weighty Matter
I have always struggled with being overweight. And the people around me had no issue telling me about it either – as far back as I can remember. As early as first grade I was told I was overweight and that I needed to go on a diet. This continued into my teens and young adulthood. As I grew older and struggled with my own prolonged singleness, it also became one of the reasons others offered me for not being married. Sadly, I believed this as well.
Unfortunately, these untrue beliefs only served to hurt me. It contributed to my struggling self-worth. In addition, it made it more difficult for me to put myself out there to meet new people because I came to automatically expect rejection based on my weight.
I would like to tell you I overcame this battle prior to marriage. Getting married helped me as I came to know that someone could love me regardless of my struggles with food and body imagine. Once again, however, it took a much deeper work of the Holy Spirit to heal this wound that I have carried with me for so many years.
Do you also believe you are unacceptable or unattractive to the opposite sex? Do you, too, struggle with the idea that no one will want you based on unreasonable standards dictated by society or just other people’s opinions? Or is there something else going on that is completely different than what I have shared. I encourage you to take this issue to God in prayer, as well as seeking out any professional assistance you may need to overcome it. Trust me, it is so worth it.
Leaving and cleaving
There is another issue I want to address, as I have seen it in both single men and women who desire to marry. This problem usually involves a different type of parental wound – wherein the unmarried person acts as a surrogate spouse for their mother or father. There is so much control that the parent exerts over the single man or woman, that it is nearly impossible for the individual to ever leave their family of origin and form a spousal relationship with another person.
In Genesis 2:21-24, the Scriptures tell us the following:
“So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” (Emphasis added)
It is essential that a person leaves their family of origin to marry. This is scriptural. I have witnessed both men and women allow a parent or family member to monopolize their time and emotions via control, thus making them unavailable for relationships with the opposite sex. Please understand it is the natural order for children to grow up and marry. Part of this process is the leaving of the nest. This is of such importance to marriage that God wrote it into the Scriptures (see Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31).
If you struggle with this dynamic and believe it contributes to your prolonged singleness, do not despair. God wants to free you so you can marry. I encourage you to find a counselor and begin the process of healing from this entanglement so you can “leave and cleave.”
A Plethora of Others
In this blog post, I have only looked at three specific types of wounds that can come from others via our past. While these are significant, there are a host of other wounds as well that can affect one’s ability to marry.
A great resource which explores past wounding is a book I read when I was single, “The Singlehood Phenomenon, 10 Brutally Honest Reasons People Aren’t Getting Married.” Originally published in 2006, the authors Beverly Rodgers PhD and Tom Rodgers PhD did a wonderful job of compiling the data applicable at that time.
I think there is more to look at in the 15 years that have elapsed since then. However, this is a great place to start if you are looking for additional resources.
Next month, we will continue exploring reasons for prolonged singleness. The next reason we will look at is male/female relational dynamics. This issue is big, and I believe singles would benefit from a refresher in this subject in general.
Julieanne M. Bartlett All Rights Reserved Copyright 2022