As fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we learn early on that the desired, preferred, ideal state is to be married, have kids, and keep a very strong family and family orientation throughout our adult lives. Unfortunately, some people stay single for a number of reasons and have their marital goals frustrated for a time. Some have never married, others divorce, and others still are widowed. So, when someone for whatever reason is single in the church—especially when over 30—it is common for them to experience grieving feelings such as anger, depression/sadness, anxiety, and guilt. But anger (or it’s synonyms: feeling mad, upset, irritated, frustrated, etc.) can be a very common and pronounced part of the single journey. This can include anger towards the opposite sex, anger towards married members not understanding or being empathetic/sympathetic to the challenges of singlehood, anger towards church leaders not giving adequate help and support, and especially, anger towards God.
Where Anger Towards God Comes From:
When someone basically grows up in the church learning about the marital ideal, a belief and expectation often develops that when they (the individual) basically is a good, active member in good standing, marriage will be a blessing to occur at the proper time as a young adult—often in the early or mid ‘20s. When this does not occur, or if it does but ends in divorce or being widowed, anger and frustration can often result. This upset often revolves around a feelings of “unfairness”: that it was unfair that they did not marry (or stay married). That as an active member trying to uphold the values of the church, marriage should be an expected blessing to follow at the desired time. However, sometimes this is not the case and things do not work out when desired for long periods, sometimes for the rest of a person’s life.
The anger towards God can basically be summarized as, “I deserve to be married because_____ (righteousness, worthiness), so why has it not happened? Why did it not work out?” While the individual reasons and answers vary widely for why each person in this predicament, there is one reason for this situation that applies to all: hardship, difficulty, unfariness, and tribulation is a part of mortality for everyone. This life is a test and a time to prepare to meet God. If everything worked out easily and according to plan, that wouldn’t make for a very good test. It would be too easy and it wouldn’t lead people to struggle, grow, develop, and improve themselves. When times are too easy and comfortable, we can become stagnant, lazy, and on auto-pilot. Growth and development is often minimal or even absent. So challenges and hardships are a part of life and no one is too good of a member to be above or beyond hardships and difficulty.
Handling Difficult Feelings of Singlehood:
Here are a few suggestions to help you better handle anger and other difficult feelings about being single:
1) Have hope and faith that you will be married sooner or later when you stay active, worthy, and valiant as a member (and make any other needed efforts/adjustments for your individual situation).
“Many of the most important deprivations of mortality will be set right in the Millennium, which is the time for fulfilling all that is incomplete in the great plan of happiness for all of our Father’s worthy children. We know that will be true of temple ordinances. I believe it will also be true of family relationships and experiences.”
Dallin H Oaks
The Great Plan of Happiness
Ensign, Nov. 1993
2) Find ways to channel your difficult feelings of stress, frustration, and loneliness in productive outlets. Develop positive, healthy habits and activities that allow you to channel and ease your feelings. This may include such efforts as exercise, sports, relaxation techniques (like deep breathing and muscle relaxation), favorite hobbies, taking classes, or doing anything else that eases your feelings in a decently healthy, appropriate and natural way. For additional ideas you may wish to get and practice techniques from the useful resource, The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Davis, Eshelman, and McKay.
3) Study stories from the scriptures of hardships and difficulties worthy church members experienced in previous times. Learn and emulate how those challenges were dealt with using faith, hope, and righteous works. Use their stories of faith and resilience as positive role models. Several related scripture stories to consider:
--Abraham’s wife Sarah being barren (childless) and 100 years old but eventually blessed with a son Isaac (Genesis 17:15-22), as well as Zacharias’s wife Elisabeth being older but becoming the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:36-58).
--Nephi and his family losing their bows and their ability to hunt in the wilderness; going hungry before getting relief (I Nephi 16:18-32).
--Alma the older and his righteous church members temporarily being in bondage before deliverance (Mosiah 24:8-22).
--Joseph Smith spending months in Liberty jail on false charges before being delivered (Doctrine & Covenants 122:1-9).
--Paul suffering an undisclosed ailment or hardship throughout his life that he never received relief from in his life that he referred to as his metaphorical “thorn in the flesh” (2nd Corinthians 12:5-10).
--Moroni, a righteous prophet loses his entire family and people the Nephites to war and lives completely alone for over 20 years until his passing (Mormon 8:1-11; Moroni 1:1-4; 10:1, 34).
When you suffer hardships, challenges, difficulties, and unfairness such as with being single, remember and incorporate the suggestions given above. And remember, eventually all blessings will be yours. Because “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.
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|2019-12-09||Randy Gilchrist||Psychological health|
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to email@example.com).