Image by Chiot’s Run via Flickr
That’s the title of a post I would write for The Elephant Journal if they didn’t happen to prefer overwrought clichè navel-gazing posts on the evil of marriage or the enlightenment to be found through singularity.
As it is 2011 and we are decades past the women’s liberation movement, one would think that the knee-jerk “men pigs and marriage bad” rhetoric would be considered – if not actually archaic – then at least too tritely tired to form the basis of any arguments where being single by choice was concerned.
But they are not.
Though Rob possesses a similarly low opinion of his gender for the most part, I don’t think that men in general deserve the slagging they get at the hands of women who left unhappy relationships and have “found themselves” as single women.
My personal opinion is that women who see themselves as better off single ought not to have married in the first place due either to inherent personality traits that make co-habitation emotionally tiring or a rather microscopic view of reality that only allows room enough for them and their needs. It would be refreshing to read someone admit that relationships just don’t suit their temperaments or the need to be concerned solely with one’s self because there is nothing wrong with that.
But the articles I’ve run across from women who are militantly single, or single after a string of relationships or a long marriage, inevitably focus on the details to the exclusion of honest explanation.
These women drone on about the maintenance of life – holding a job, running a household and even raising children – as though no female in the history of humanity, anywhere on the planet, hasn’t mastered a single one – ever.
They go on – and on – about “independence” to such a degree that I wonder if perhaps they don’t know what the word really means.
Anyone with an IQ that exceeds a houseplant can live on her own. Financially supporting yourself, taking care of the myriad of daily living details, long-term planning and even parenting aren’t independence milestones. Being a grown up isn’t something they hand out gold stars for doing.
The most recent “look at me! Am I not wonderful because I am single” post at The Elephant Journal was written by a woman two years out of her 25 year marriage. Judging from the photo, she married young, so I suppose her surprise that she can take care of most matters in her life without a husband isn’t too surprising. Though it is disheartening to think that someone in my peer group is so mid-1950’s in a Ronald Reagan kind of way.
She writes that all she needs a man for is a “good fuck and to have someone to pick me up from the airport”, though she admits that sex and a ride home are not beyond her abilities to self-manage either.
But is this a stereotype that women should be crowing about in the 21st century? That “yes, we can!” take care of ourselves?
I left home at 18 and spent the next nearly 16 years taking care of myself. Put myself through university, worked, managed the daily tasks and the crises – big and small – all by my lonesome little self without applause or cookies and milk for my efforts. It was no big deal.
And what’s more, most of the women I knew did the same thing. A fair number of my friends were single well into their 30’s and some are still single now that we are in our 40’s. Though boyfriends came and went, these men were add-ons to our lives not necessities to off-load responsibility on or fix us and our problems.
Being single is not really hard, but like anything else, it can be a monotonous grind over time despite the “freedom” of not having to concern yourself with anyone but you.
I think the point people miss in the war between marriage and single is that they are choices and that neither is utopia. People who whine about either state would be better off looking inward to figure out what is wrong than to lay blame externally.
Single was okay. It could be very lonely at times and not having someone around who had your back regardless made it lonelier. I continue to not understand people’s preference for single over married just as I don’t understand people who equate marriage with bondage.
Barring deal-breakers, if your marriage isn’t working then one or both of you isn’t doing something you should and probably that thing is communicating and coming to consensus on what needs to be done. Marriage “haters” labor under the delusion that relationships are not work or that they are driven solely by attraction and soul-matey connection nonsense that should have been discarded for reality when we graduated from Sweet Valley High.
Women will spend any amount of time nurturing their relationships with sisters, mothers, friends, co-workers and children, but barely a second thought for their husbands. Romance to too many is about “what’s in it for me” and not about “how can I show this amazing person who shares my life how important he is to me and how special he is”.
I don’t really have many close female friends and perhaps my impatience with articles like these are the reason why. I am too practical and male in my approach to relationships. But, being single is not an accomplishment because taking care of yourself is – or should be – a given, so quit giving yourself “high five’s” already. You didn’t do anything that millions of us haven’t already done or continue to do.