A recent survey done by TheBump.com and ForbesWoman.com reveals that between 25% and 65% of both working and stay-at-home moms sometimes feel like married single moms. Reading the responses to this report and comments on blogs, it is quite clear that emotions run high. The deeply felt emotions these women deal with may have been birthed in an unequal distribution of chores, however as time goes on these emotions reveal there is something more significant going on. It’s no longer just about the chores. The emotions reveal cracks in fabric of the relationship. These emotions – loneliness, anger, jealousy, grief, etc – can have a profound impact on a married single mom and her marriage.
No girl grows up dreaming of a marriage where she feels abandoned by her man. Perhaps his job pulls him away from home for days, weeks or months at a time. Maybe he is gaming his time away, or drinking away the possibility of an intimate relationship. Regardless of why husbands are absent (or uninvolved), their wives experience a roller-coaster of emotions that can wreck havoc and disaster within their marriage.
Loneliness is a painful wound many married single moms quietly carry every day. Companionship and conversation are critical components of a happy marriage. When this isn’t available, a wife feels lonely and separated from her husband.
Disney Princesses trained us for ‘happily ever after’, but when Prince Charming doesn’t come home our hearts ache for our unmet expectations. Those unmet expectations become dashed dreams that may never be fulfilled and need to be grieved. There is a deep sense of loss and often questions and fears about what the future will hold.
Fear also raises its ugly head in other ways. She wonders about his activities. She worries about his safety and health. Concern for her kids becomes paramount. She becomes insecure in her role as a wife and mother. Insecurity in her marriage, in her purpose, and in her belief system begins to erode her confidence. Married single moms wonder if they still have what it takes to attract their husband’s love and attention.
It doesn’t take long for the twinges of insecurity to grow into soul-shaking jealousy. Husbands who are home every evening, who co-parent their children and date their wives become objects of comparison. Watching a husband and wife deep in intimate conversation can ignite a spark of jealousy. This envy can become a consuming fire tearing down whatever good might exist in her marriage.
Then shame sets in. When others question her situation, it validates her pain and points out the failure she feels. She’s embarrassed about her husband’s choices, often feeling she must make excuses for him. Blog comments regarding married single moms contain some deeply wounding words that cast blame on her because she chose to marry and stay with him.
For many, this growing burden of emotional pain becomes a cancer deep in the heart. All the emotional pain is fashioned into a sharpened sword called anger. They are angry with their husband’s choices. Angry about living married life alone. Angry about how Daddy’s absence affects the kids. Angry about everything.
There is so much grief that fills the heart of a married single mom. She’s said good-bye to dreams for herself and her children. She’s sad about the hours, days, and special moments that will never happen. She needs to grieve the what-if’s and the dreams she had as a bride. This grief needs to be addressed. Grieving our dreams includes being honest about those dreams, realizing they may never be fulfilled, and asking God for new dreams firmly planted in reality and truth.
Married single moms are not a new phenomenon. I have lived this life and many others have, too. We even find examples of married single moms throughout the Old and New Testaments. We can no longer avoid reality – married single moms are prevalent and their situations and burdens are real. But how have they survived and even thrived? Through the strength God provides. Through Christian community. Through the healing of wounded hearts. Through the hope provided by Jesus Christ.
Carla Anne Coroy runs the Married Single Mom blog. She speaks regularly and serves as a staff writer for an online Christian women’s magazine Mentoring Moments for Christian Women. Carla Anne lives in Canada with her husband and four homeschooled children. For more information, visit www.carlaanne.com.