As a single mom and teacher (with a good income), I am accountable to the state to care for my son. I am also accountable to my students, their families, my principal and other administrators. I understand general accountability.
However, I also know that I can do pretty much whatever I want with my free time and my extra money. I can go to mass or adoration, or not. I can engage in personal prayer and spiritual reading, or not. I can be involved in corporal works of mercy, or not. I can remodel my kitchen and bathrooms, or give to the poor, or both, or neither.
Hi Gertie - we are also accountable to God for all the above and for the choices we make connected to them - all is gifted to in stewardship. Because there is no human authority perhaps guiding to make good choices in stewardship, one remains accountable before God in stewardship. There is a certain freedom perhaps but not outside of accountability for choices. Sometimes those called to the single state do have set times for prayer and their income is self proportioned including for donations to charitable works. All luxuries (as purchases) may be excluded. One can set up a rule of life for oneself usually approved by spiritual direction, even make private vows received at Mass if one wishes, while they remain private vows and not public vows as defined by The Church.
The point is, as a single person, it's all about me and my choices -- and a six-year-old is not going to hold me accountable for anything. As a member of a religious community, or as a wife (and I've experienced both ways of life), there's always someone who's "got your back," helping with discerment regarding use of time and resources, and keeping an eye out for "slacking" in spiritual matters. As a single woman, I have taken care to create a circle of friends to help me with accountability -- but let's face it, it's way easier to hide my true self from friends than from a husband or other members of a religious community.
Don't leave God out of the equasion. Sometimes it is not easy to hide one's true self from friends either, that is if one should want to do so. If God wants your true self revealed, then revealed it is even if for some reason one is striving to hide it. A religious community (and I have also experienced it 'bothways') can be a great support in the spiritual life, but not necessarily. Sometimes a religious community may be a great trial in misunderstanding. All is within God's Divine Providence.
There is a difference between being single by default as it were, choosing the single state and becoming aware of a call from God and a vocation to the single state, I think. And as with any call or vocation it involves discernment and a journey of discernment and, if wise, also spiritual direction and on an ongoing basis. Very often that spiritual direction can provide that spiritual support and guidance that a religious community and a religious superior can sometimes also provide. There are too for single people the potential call to a Third Order or a Secular Institute including vows certainly to my knowledge with Secular Institutes and also some Third Orders (either promises or vows I have heard).
One thing I have found is that freedom of choice and movement in the single state that enables me to respond at times and ways that perhaps in religious life I would not be able to do so. This is not so much to compare one call with the other, both are different calls each to a totally different way of life - and with God is the prerogative where He calls, whom He calls, and the why of it all, often mysterious. He also in His Providence provides formation in one way or another - for He always provides for His works and the prime work of His for each individual is His call to personal holiness no matter one's particular vocation or state in life.
Certainly CHRISTIFIDELES LAICI which I quoted in a previous post does outline that there is a vocation to the single state in potential - although it is termed as the celibate lay state and of course the single state is the celibate state. See my post here: forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=6514352&postcount=6