Last week, Kate Bolick’s article “All The Single Ladies” in Atlantic Monthly proposes an idea that many single friends have already openly discussed: stay single or get on the I-want-to-get-married path?
Me, I’ve been there, married and divorced. I made a choice to get remarried because I love my (current) husband and believe in marriage. Call me old school, or maybe just a creature of our culture, but to me, it was important. Joni Mitchell sings, “We don’t need a piece of paper from the city hall, keepin’ us tried and true…” on her quintessential California record Blue, and I know people who are in committed relationships and decided not to use the sanctity of the law or religion to get the job done. But what about single women who are choosing non-marriage at all. As in accepting it because they’re happy ALONE. Or as Jennifer Aniston said about Brad Pitt at the time of their divorce to David Letterman about the positive element of divorce: “At least I don’t have to discuss what kind of couch I’m getting with someone else.”
And while I love being married, every relationship needs some work, and even some compromise, I can see why someone would get to a point of feeling content on their own. Says Bolick:
As women have climbed ever higher, men have been falling behind. We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up—and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go out with.
This is what I’ve heard from my single friends. “You should see the options out there.” Miri will tell you all about it here. Just the other day, my friend called me to report her internet dating experience. A nice guy she met on J-Date in his mid-40s. Never married. Sorry, but you say never married and I say red flag. (Of course, there are many other red flags in my life that I wasn’t able to see even if they were FLASHING IN FRONT OF MY FACE LIKE NEON SIGNS, but that’s not something I can write about.) Anyway, this guy was never married. This guy was secure. Good body. Handsome. My girlfriend, who has been divorced for a few years said he was nice enough, but do you make the jump with someone just because you hate being alone? Haven’t we all been there? Gosh, is it awful to say this, but isn’t Demi Moore there right now?
Bolick speaks about this loneliness issue:
When I embarked on my own sojourn as a single woman in New York City—talk about a timeworn cliché!—it wasn’t dating I was after. I was seeking something more vague and, in my mind, more noble, having to do with finding my own way, and independence. And I found all that. Early on, I sometimes ached, watching so many friends pair off—and without a doubt there has been loneliness. At times I’ve envied my married friends for being able to rely on a spouse to help make difficult decisions, or even just to carry the bills for a couple of months.
For me, the most important element is what she says halfway through the paragraph. “It wasn’t dating I was after… it was finding my own way, and independence.” Marriage or not, there is some accountability you have to take for your own life. As a newly single mother, I was ready to face the world by myself without a man. A man would be a bonus, I thought, but it had to be the right man. Isn’t this what Kate Bolick is talking about when she questions marriage? That’s it not about marriage in general–but it’s about the right marriage.