In a recent interview with the Mormon Channel "When Life Is Less Than Ideal," Sister Carole M. Stephens shared a surprising statistic:
"I don't know if you are aware that we've reached a point in the Church now where more than half of our women are single," Sister Stephens shared. "Women in Relief Society 18 years and older, just about 51 percent are single."
This statistic follows a 2016 Pew Research study about how Mormons are more likely to marry and have children than any other religion. The study also shows that while the percentage of married Christians in the U.S. has dropped, the percentage of married LDS members in the U.S. has held steady.
But if those who are single are worried about obtaining the "ideal" family or becoming stigmatized, Stephens had some advice.
"None of us have the ideal family," Sister Stephens says. "You are married with children. You are married without children. You are single never married. You are single divorced. You're widowed. We have all these different groups, I guess you could call them, of women in the Church. But I really have this concern that sometimes when we segment ourselves into these silos we create 'ites' in the Church and that's something we really don't need," she says.
But when it comes to experiencing the day-to-day of being a single sister in the Church, licensed clinical psychologist Liz Hale shared her experience and how that ultimately helped her to relate to other sisters.
"When I think about single sisters reaching 51 percent, I mean, that's a very near and dear group to my heart because I was among them for so long," Hale said in the interview. "I married Ben at 50 so we've just been married three years."
Hale also related when she had been married briefly before in her 20s before having the marriage annulled.
"He just wanted nothing to do with the family," she says. "But I just remember some of the devastation of that. I can relate to mothers who might be doing this on their own or other single sisters or anyone with disappointment and betrayal."
Though Hale says she wondered why Heavenly Father allowed her to go through these experiences, she says she can now relate to the feeling that life isn't fair and says she knows that that experience wasn't wasted.
In fact, she shared how she'll never forget sitting in a session with a woman who had similar experiences to the ones she had.
"I just had those tingles going up and down my spine knowing, 'Oh sister, sweetheart, I've been there and this is what happened to me,'" she says. "It's almost worth it I suppose to know you can make a difference to someone else."
Watch the full interview below or visit mormonchannel.org.