This past September on Instagram, Devi Abraham asked me to share some thoughts on how married people can support singles. Devi co-hosts a podcast called Where Do We Go From Here, on which they talk about purity culture, its effects on Christians, and how to move forward. She’s also a super legit writer/journalist. 

When she asked the question, it was in the context of representation of singles in certain fields like ministry/pastoral leadership and writers. In her Instagram stories, Devi was analyzing a popular productivity book and asked about who is doing the background work that allows certain people to focus on their work. What assumptions is the author making about their audience’s other obligations and ability to farm out certain work? 

It reminded me of a saying I’ve heard many times, “You have the same 24 hours in a day as Beyonce.” The intent of this statement is to encourage one to #girlboss up, keep hustling, and stop making excuses. If Beyonce can do it, so can you! 

While we are all operating under the same construct of time, it feels important to note that Beyonce has a team. I don’t know the particulars of her team, but she certainly has one. I’m not saying this to minimize Queen Bey’s talent or work ethic, nor her many accomplishments. Nor am I saying she shouldn’t delegate. I think that’s probably a great use of her and Jay-Z’s resources. My main point is that it’s not a helpful or accurate comparison. 

There’s probably a lot more we could unpack about this statement through the lens of gender and race, but we’re going to stick with the matter at hand. Who is doing the background work? Who is doing the laundry and the cleaning? Where is the income coming from to supplement the work, particularly in the early stages? 

Whether it’s the person in question or a partner or a paid team or friends, someone is responsible for that stuff. 

Devi posted a DM she got from my pal and yours, Jenna DeWitt. You might remember her from episode 6.2 of ye olde podcast.  Jenna brought up the point that this is a factor in why we don’t see as much representation of singles among leaders and writers. Add children to the mix, like for single parents, and it gets even more complicated. 

This is where I entered the chat, so to speak. I agreed with Jenna, and also mentioned that it can feel weird to talk about because so often it feels like I’m making excuses or whining. That’s when Devi asked if there was anything married folks can do to support singles in this position. I made a video with 5 practical ideas, which you can watch here.

I also gave one baseline rule of thumb that has been helpful for me, which I’m going to share now.

 Focus on small, consistent acts over time, and less on inconsistent, grand gestures. 

I’ve found that consistency cultivates a foundation of trust. I have found this to hold true in many relationships in my life. Sure, the quantity of time doesn’t guarantee depth in the relationship. I am constantly learning more and more about practicing mutuality, honesty, and curiosity in relationships. But in terms of sustainability, the “small and consistent” parameter has been a helpful guardrail. 

For me, and for some of you as well, I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, to go to extremes, to make it a whole big thing. That frame of mind can make the idea of reaching out a bit overwhelming. Thinking about things I’m already doing and who I can invite into it? Much more attainable. 

Whether we’re single or married, we all have background work on top of our regular work and callings. Whether we’re single or married, we need support and might not be in a position to pay for it. Think about something you’re already doing and one person you can invite into it. Consider sending them a text this week. 

Examples: If you take your kids to the park every Tuesday, maybe you could offer to pick up your single friends’ kids as well so he or she can have a few hours to write or take a nap. If you have a washer and dryer in your home/apartment, maybe you could tell a friend who doesn’t they are welcome to use them any time. If you and your family have dinner together every night, maybe on Mondays your single friend has a standing invitation to join you. If your friend has a podcast, share direct episode links with friends who would like it. If you’re not sure what might be helpful, ask.