It happened not long ago. I started getting emails from something called the Cambridge Stake MSA. As is my habit with all mass mailings, I deleted the first few without reading them, but after a while I noticed them and realized that I didn’t know what MSA stood for. Turns out MSA is the “Middle Singles,” which is everyone 30-50 years old who isn’t married. In the eyes of the church, I am no longer a “Young Single Adult.” I’m just a “Single Adult.” I am now officially old.
Man, that’s depressing. I know other people have gone through this and survived and lived full and happy lives (sounds like I’m describing an amputation or something, doesn’t it?) , but I have to say that contemplating my new membership in this group made for a pretty bleak afternoon.
I wonder if I would feel worse or better, if I were a woman in this position? On the one hand, it would be nice to be able to tell myself that it’s not my fault. I don’t know if any women actually do this, but having heard what they tell the unmarried sisters (“Don’t worry. In this life or the next, you will find someone.”) and the unmarried brethren (“What is wrong with you? Get on the ball, you cretins!”), I would not be surprised if some sisters tell themselves this when they are in a funk.
On the other hand, statistically speaking, Mormon men like me stand a better chance of getting married than Mormon women, not to mention Maureen Dowd. And let me tell you, this hardly seems fair, since the women in my ward are better catches than the men.
(How much better? Well, recently I played a question-and-answer game with some friends at my apartment. One of the questions was to name one person in the ward who you just could not believe was not married. All of the answers named women, with no repeats. And all of us agreed with everyone else’s choices. We noted that none of us had chosen a male, but even upon further reflection, we could not come up with a man who fit the criteria. There are better and worse catches, but no one whose continuing singleness is both a mystery and an affront to the justice of the cosmos, as was the case with the women we had chosen. I love going to Elders’ Quorum, and those guys are my friends, but it’s not hard to come up with reasons why we’re still single, myself most definitely included.)
I go to a singles ward which has no age requirements of which I am aware. We have members whose age I would guess is forty-ish, and I know we have women as young as 21 and men as young as 23. The average age is probably 27 or 28. Most everyone is a college graduate, and a returned missionary (Relief Society included). Personally, I love it.
In most stakes, I would be getting kicked out of the singles ward right about the time I ceased being young single adult. I’m glad that’s not happening. I’m glad that the only change for me is that I get invited to extra activities. But it must be pretty traumatic for folks who aren’t lucky enough to be in a stake like mine. As the median marriage age creeps upward, is it time for the church to think about a policy change? Kicking people out at 30 makes more sense if most Mormons got married at age 20, but this isn’t where we are any more.