8 Myths About Old Maids

Myth #1: You're a loser

Remember playing Old Maid as a kid? It’s a simple card game in which cards are matched in pairs and the player holding the queen at the end loses. Notice how it’s NOT a game about winning, but rather, NOT losing. The subconscious effect it has left on children since the late 19th century is that if you don’t pair off, you’re a loser.

I don't want  to read too much into a card game, but queens are anything but losers. They are royalty and in many other card games, more valuable. I guess it depends on which game you are playing. You could play the dating game, be impatient, and settle for someone who may not be God's choice for you so you can have kids before your biological clock stops ticking. But would that make you a winner? If you think going through hell for several years before finally getting divorced and then trying to figure out child custody constitutes a winning situation, go ahead. I'd rather be an old maid than move forward without the confidence that God directed me to get married. Abiding in God's will makes you a winner, single or married.

Myth #2: Old Maids are defective

Did you know that an un-popped kernel of popcorn is also called an “old maid”? The implication is that if you don’t get married you’re somehow a dud. Corn pops when  heat causes the moisture inside of the kernel to turn into steam which expands the starch and pressures the kernel to pop. While it's true that you, as a corn kernel may not have the right "moisture content" (14%) or may have a hole in your outer shell which causes a slow release in steam preventing pressure build up, (i.e., character defects or personality quirks that make you unattractive to the opposite sex), it may also be the case that there is a lack of "heat" in society (explained in the next point) to cause you to pop. You can have perfectly good kernels and when exposed to a low heat setting, they will get brown but never pop.

If you are single and on your way to old maid status, you are certainly not alone. And let me add....you're not a loser and you are most likely not a dud.

Myth #3: Old Maids are a minority

Although it may feel like you are the only one NOT uploading pictures of your kids or  writing mushy notes to your spouse on Facebook, the facts show that you have a whole lota peeps in your camp.

Thirty percent of Americans have never been married. That's about one out of three people. From data collected from all people ages 15 and older in 2009, 55% had been married once, 30% not at all, and 15% had married more than once. (source)

There are more unmarried people today than in the past. In 1960, 28% of all adults ages 18 and older were single; today 49% are (that includes divorced and widowed.) And from the ages of 18-29 only 20% are married, compared to 59% in 1960 (source). It used to be that if you were 25 and still not married you were an "Old Maid". But now, the median age of first time marriage for women is 26.5 and for men it's 28.7. (source)

So relax. If you feel like all the "good Christian guys" have been taken and you are doomed to spend the rest of your life as an old maid, remember the story of Elijah. He felt alone too. He indulged self pity and thought he was the only one in Israel who didn't worship Baal. God informed Elijah that he still had 7,000 faithful servants besides him. Though you may feel like you're alone, you're not. If it's a desire in your heart to get married, be patient. God has someone out there that he will disclose to you in His time.

Myth #4: Old Maids will never get married

You used to look forward to birthdays. Now they are just another reminder that God did not answer your prayer this year. You wonder if you dare to keep hoping because "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12) and you are tired of feeling "lovesick".

You may have seen the research that "college-educated white women who have not married by their 25th birthday have only a 50 percent likelihood of marrying thereafter. (Chances are slightly higher for women with no higher education and slightly lower for black women.) Those who turn 30 without having wed have only a 20 percent chance of ever doing so. At age 35 the likelihood drops to 5 percent. And if they haven't tied the knot by 40, the number who eventually will is "perhaps 1 percent." The statistics were based on 1982 census information from 70,000 households and other government surveys." (source)

But these statistics can be misleading!

More people today are co-habitating, and many are simply playing the field. Many women are more career oriented and with abortion being legal, a shot-gun wedding is a thing of the past. For many women, it's not that they want to get married but haven't found their soul mate, it's that they want to stay single.

So don't let these statistics give you a panic attack or get hysterical on your next birthday. God's Word promises "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11) He makes "all things beautiful in His time" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

If God could lead Philip into the barren desert to explain the Scriptures to the Ethiopian eunuch so he could understand the gospel, he can lead someone into your life too (Acts 8:26-40). If God could tell Aaron to go "into the wilderness to meet Moses" (after they hadn't seen each other for 40 years) and they were able to find each other without having any GPS or cell phone to meet at the right mountain at the right time, he can send someone into your life at the right time and place (Exodus 4:27).

Myth #5: Old Maids are desperate

Have you ever sensed people giving you pity because of your singleness? You go to your 10 year high school reunion and when you say you are not married and have no children they look at you with an "I'm so sorry face". They lightly touch your arm and feel like they need to "encourage" you by saying some of the following unhelpful advice:

  • "You just need to let Jesus be your husband"
  • "Your future husband will come when you aren't looking for him"
  • "Have you written down and prayed over your list?"
  • "Maybe God doesn't want you to be married?"

How do you respond? One single blogger shares the following:

"You can get defensive and angry with the person and over-defend your singleness. You can agree and start complaining about how lonely you are. You can be aloof and pretend you don't notice. Or you can be blunt and point out how rude the person is. I've done every single one of these responses over the years, and I'm still confused. What is the best response? Which one seems to get the message across that singleness is NOT a terminal disease?"

Because of this, many women are trying to reclaim the negative connotation of Old Maid and Spinster. "We could have elected to put up with a porn addiction or a pee fetish or a cheating boyfriend and married the a**hole. We could have lowered our standards, picked a china pattern and done the deed. We opted for a different path. It's not because we are focusing on our careers, have daddy issues or any of that bulls**t. We just don't want to be married." (source)

You may be praying fervently for a husband, but that doesn't mean your are desperate or want the pity of strangers. Your singleness is not wrong or unfortunate. As said before, the only unfortunate thing is to be impatient and foolish in the decision of a spouse. You may enjoy being single during this season of life and prefer it if people would stop trying to play match maker and "fix you."

Myth #6: Old Maids are less happy

Being older and single is becoming so cool that there are training seminars for "cougar women" (older confident women who date younger men) and there is even a Crazy Cat Ladies Unite group on facebook with nearly 83,000 "likes." Take the following example as evidence that getting married at the end of the fairy tale = happiness.

The culture in which singleness implies personal deficit or social exclusion is changing. It does not mean you are a lesbian who just hasn't come out of the closet yet. And it doesn't mean you are less happy and should deserve pity.

According to one study, the happiness of 24,000 German couples were tracked for 15 years. Although their happiness level went up a slight bit during their wedding and honeymoon, they discovered overall that marriage doesn't necessarily make people one bit happier. Their happiness levels gradually returned to their premarital state. The reason for that, they concluded, is that we each have a baseline of happiness, and marriage on average isn't going to change that -- except for that little blip. (Time Magazine)

Happiness comes from obeying the Lord. In one of the last teaching moments Jesus had with his disciples before His death, He washed their feet and told them to follow His example of humility and service. In John 13:17 Jesus says, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." Happiness comes from doing what the Lord says.

The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 also reveal to us the secret of happiness. Being poor in spirit, mourning over our sin, being meek, hunger and thirsting after righteousness, being merciful, pure in heart, resolving conflict with others, and couragously enduring persecution are all ways to attain unto a happy, or blessed life.

Nowhere in Scripture does it say that marriage brings happiness. And people who assume that you are unhappy because you are single or promote the idea that you will be more happy if you were married, are promoting unrealistic expectations which is the #1 factor contributing to divorce.  On the contrary, Scripture warns that marriage brings trouble in the flesh (1 Corinthians 7:28). God saw that Adam needed a "helpmeet" so he created Eve to be a suitable helper. God had in mind partnership to increase usefulness, not happiness. Scripture tells us that humans disappoint, betray, and snare when we put our trust in them (Proverbs 29:25). But happiness and fulfillment come only from the Lord. "In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:11)  "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him" (Psalm 62:5).

Myth #7: Old Maids are not spiritual enough

Maybe you heard in your youth group, "Be the woman God made you to be, focus on that, and then God will bring you a husband." You read "Lady in Waiting" and have tried to use your season of singleness to hone your domestic skills. But you keep waiting and wonder if maybe you're not spiritual enough. If you were, wouldn't God have brought you Prince Charming already? The logic goes that "The reason you don't have anyone yet is because you're not fully satisfied with God. You have to be fully satisfied with God and when you least expect it, God will bring you the person He meant for you."

This has disillusioned many girls about the character of God. Feeling deceived, they have chucked "Lady in Waiting" out the widow, along with possibly their virginity, their church, and their faith.  "A lot of girls were sold on a deal and not on a Savior" says an honest blogger in an entry called, "I don't wait anymore". She goes on to explain, "When Jesus was here on the earth, the crowds would follow Him because they saw He gave good things. But that’s not what He wanted. He wanted their hearts for Himself. So He would turn to them and say things like, “If you don’t love Me so much that every other relationship in your life looks like hate by comparison, you can’t follow Me.” (Matthew 10:34-39, paraphrase)

Christ is the source of everything we need and the giver of all good gifts … but in telling people about Him, it’s possible we’ve sold them on a solution for life’s problems and not life itself.

  • What if we as girls had learned early on that having Him was everything, not a means to the life we think He would want us to have.

  • If we had learned we don’t abstain from sex because we’re “waiting.” We abstain because we love Him.

  • If I’d had on my bulletin board, “Fall in love with Jesus.” That’s it. Bottom line. That’s everything you need to know, to work toward, to put your hope in.

  • If I’d learned who He is, what He wants, how to give Him everything, not “wait” so that one day I could give my everything to someone else.

  • If I’d learned that it’s not bad to pray for a husband, but that my greater prayer should be for Him to spend my life as He chooses for His glory.

  • If we as believers make that our message, things could be drastically different for a lot of girls wondering why the God they think they learned to follow doesn’t compute. It doesn’t necessarily stop the desire for a husband or end all feelings of loneliness, but it does show a God who provides, loves and gives infinite purpose even to our singleness rather than a God who categorically denies some who pray for husbands while seemingly giving freely to others. It shows that while marriage is good, He is the greater goal.

Just because you are an "old maid" does not mean you are not spiritual enough. Earthly blessings are no measurement of your spirituality.

Myth #8: Old Maids are less fortunate

I got a kick out of reading an article entitled, "5 Reasons Being Single Sucks Even More Than You Thought." In a nutshell, it says 1) Single men get paid less, 2) They work more, 3) The government hates you (you don't get a tax bonus like married people do), 4) People hate you (Single men were viewed as being stupid and dishonest, and single women were more likely to be harassed and treated badly at restaurants) 5) You are going to die soon (married people have better health care plans).

Three of the five reasons had to do with monetary statistics. Although it may not pay to be single and be a man, studies have shown that a woman extending her "old maid" status has proven to pay off. According to the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project, a new report called "Knot Yet" reveals that college educated women who marry after age 30 make an average of $50,415 annually. College educated women who marry before age 20 make an average of $32,263 (a 56% difference!). A woman who only graduated high school and may have attended some college who marries after age 30 earns $22,286 per year by their mid 30's while those who marry before 20 with the same education level earn $18,234 annually (a 22% difference). (source)

So, while the experience of intimate married love may be a fortune you hope for, it is not unfortunate that you chose to put a priority on your education and career, even if it does make you feel like an old maid.

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