You’ve probably heard it before from a married woman whose husband works long hours, goes hunting for days at a time, or just doesn’t lift a finger to help. She vents about bearing the parenting burden and says that she’s pretty much a married single mom.
While we can’t expect other people to know what life is like as a single mom, those words sting and cause a single mom to feel very unseen. Here are 5 reasons why it stings along with how to respond politely to that “married single mom.”
Real quick though—some women have said these words and then explained that their husbands are in the military and away on active duty, addicted to alcohol, or in a medically induced coma (yes, I’ve read all three of these in preparing to write this article). I’m not saying those situations aren’t tough or tougher even.
I’m not ignoring those moms who have their own battles as married women. I just want you to know that you’re not alone when you feel that sting. And maybe by identifying why it hurts, we can figure out how to deal with the pain a bit better.
She’s failing to recognize your mental toughness.
When a married woman says, “My husband and his golfing! I’m basically a married single mom for five hours every Saturday!” she ignores the mental strength it takes to be a mom who doesn’t have a husband coming home to help. On the days when the kids are fighting and the food is burning, she knows dad will be home soon to distract the kids and that provides her some peace. Single moms have to physically and mentally brave parenting alone and that takes a ton of strength.
Single moms have to physically and mentally brave parenting alone and that takes a ton of strength.
She’s failing to understand your loneliness.
Before my divorce, I dealt with loneliness. My husband worked very long hours, especially during the holidays. I spent a lot of time alone, but I didn’t feel as alone because he was a text or phone call away. When I became a single mom, the feeling of loneliness shifted. Instead of being alone physically, I felt alone emotionally. I felt like my friends didn’t know my life anymore, my identity was changing, and my kids were often gone which affects a mom’s heart in crazy ways.
She’s failing to grasp the financial strain.
When you go through a divorce, become a widow, or are raising kids with no dad in the picture, finances are a heavy burden. Even if money isn’t tight, there are still so many decisions to be made, discussions to have with an ex, and bills to pay. I don’t think the women who consider themselves married single moms fully understand the fear or anxiety that comes with having to manage a household’s finances alone.
She’s failing to recognize your journey.
Sure, it’s your journey, not hers. She doesn’t know exactly what you’ve been through, and we can only expect another person to be so empathetic. But in the process of becoming a single mom, whether it was through the death of your husband, a divorce, or pregnancy and birth with no father in the picture, you’ve walked a path and earned the stripes that she hasn’t.
She’s reminding you of your pain.
When you’re scrolling Facebook and see the post that says, “My husband is back to working nights, so I’m basically a married single mom again,” it might trigger some feelings of loneliness or remind you of difficult times if you went through a divorce. No one wants to see a friend struggle, so even if those words feel insensitive to your situation, you still don’t wish the feeling on anyone else.
So what’s the right way to respond?
Well, the wrong way is to lash out in anger, saying, “That’s so insensitive. You don’t know what it’s really like to be a single mom.” Instead, say a quiet prayer that whatever she’s going through gets better. Reach out to her privately and say, “I know things are hard, but that phrase cuts kinda deep with single moms. I know you’re not trying to be insensitive, so I wanted to tell you myself.”
How do you feel when someone who is married calls herself a single mom?