All the lonely people
I don't like my ward.
I am past the “don't know anyone” stage – I have many acquaintances, and I still don't like my ward. I am past the “too shy to be myself” stage – I have been my real self on multiple occasions, and I still don't like my ward. (Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that the masses have not reacted well to my “real self.”) I am past the “haven't yet made a good friend” stage – I have effectively exhausted the potential candidates for good friends, and am resigned to the fact that I will not make one in the current crop. (It doesn't help that all three of my Utah friends who were considering coming here next year have now made other plans.) What I really don't like about my ward, I now realize, is that it's full of single people who are obsessed with being single.
I do not deny that being single is a great hardship in the lives of many Latter-day Saints. Nobody wants to be alone, particularly not in a religious culture which vaguely equates singlehood and damnation.
I also do not deny that there are plenty of people in my ward who are not single-mindedly obsessed with getting marriage, who live happy, full lives and who realize that there is more to living the gospel than pining for a ring and a temple date.
However, this does not change the fact that a group of people, united by one feature, will necessarily approach life from the perspective of the thing they have in common. Women in Relief Society approach the Gospel as Mormon women. Single Mormon adults approach the Gospel as single Mormon adults. I imagine that in Spanish-speaking branches, the Gospel is approached from the point of view of Spanish-speaking immigrants.
Nonetheless, there are some huge differences between groups of women, singles and Spanish speakers. For one thing, there are no congregations composed entirely of women. Relief Society is certainly biased towards the perspective of women (for better or for worse), but it ought to be balanced out by Sunday School and Sacrament Meeting, where we have to take the men and children into account, as well.
Spanish-speaking branches, like singles wards/branches, worship as a homogenous group. Again, though, there are crucial differences – the main one being that speaking Spanish is not considered a sin, trial, or hardship. If one is living in the United States and if one does not speak English well, that may certainly be an inconvenience, but we do not tell native Spanish speakers that the most important thing they can do in life is to learn English, we don't obsess about the fact that they don't know English yet, and we certainly never imply that those who chose not to learn English in this life are set to be ministering angels, while the Anglophones receive higher glory.
The fact that we, single Latter-day Saints, are united by something that is “wrong” with us means that we are going to spend a lot of time obsessing about that thing that is wrong. Worse yet, this is something over which we do not have complete control. If there were a ward comprised entirely of people who were having trouble with the Word of Wisdom, you can bet that the Word of Wisdom would be the underlying topic of many lessons, but you wouldn't have a room full of sweet sisters and “nice” RMs who would very much like to live the WoW if it were only under their control because it is much more under their control.
So, I am tired of being a single person in a singles' ward, and watching engaged people magically float away to the Land of the Marrieds like one more cat ascending to the Heavyside Lair. (The fact that they often move out of state, and not just out of the ward, makes the transition all the more magical, as one never sees them again.)
Attending my last ward, a family ward with a fair number of young marrieds, was quite refreshing, as one got to see the beatific ascension from the other side. Mostly the dewy young things would show up in Relief Society, gushing about how married life had been the best three weeks of their life, and everyone would say “Awww. How cute!” and move on to talking about something REAL.
The downside of attending this ward was that I was effectively invisible to the (married) women my age, since I didn't fit into their “group,” and they hadn't yet learned how to have friends outside of their group. All the same, I think that I'd still take effective invisibility in balanced family ward over being one more sheep in an obsessed single's ward.