You’ve got to read this great Atlantic article by Kate Bolick, “All the Single Ladies.” A reader sent it to me, and wow, was I glad she did. I debated trying to rip the thing apart, but with my current slow-mo brain, that would probably take me three to four months to tackle. Which would bring us into 2012, when we’re no longer going to exist, according to the Mayan calendar. So. Better to just include the link and let you read it yourself.
Until you do, I’ll try and badly butcher a few of of her main points: that the romantic market ain’t what it once was; that the goals and purpose of marriage are also a-changin’; that a lot of our single friends out there thought that they, too, would get married some day…but (for reasons she deftly outlines in this essay) by the time we’re in our 30s and 40s, there are no good men left out there. Or, hell, even our 20s. What our single friends are left with are “deadbeats (whose numbers are rising) and playboys (whose power is growing).”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The single female reader who turned me on to this essay raised a good point: no matter how hard or how shitty this whole marriage thing gets, at least we’ve got someone there alongside us. Someone to share the burden, someone to lean on when things really suck.
(As long as it’s not your hubby who’s making things suck, that is. If that’s you, take two steps back and re-read “Hanging on For Dear Life.” Do not pass go. )
So why do we always think things are greener on the other side?
Because relationships are so much friggin’ work!
Although the more I think about it, is it really marriage that’s the hard work? Or is it Marriage With Young Children? Because when you don’t have kids, you still have time to
- think and
- do your own thing.
Not so for those of us with younguns underfoot. I wish Bolick had more thoroughly addressed the kid part of marriage in her essay, honestly. Because, even though Ken and I fought before we had kids, it was nothing like the Eighth Circle of Hell we’re immediately sucked into when we’re fighting these days.
Which brings me to one last sleep-deprived point before my brain gives out for the day. In her recent book, The Secret Lives of Wives, Iris Krasnow nails something I’ve always suspected: even if you divorce your spouse, once you have kids together, you’re always going to be connected. You’re always going to have that shared history in common, not to mention…ding, ding, ding! the same kids.
Divorce with kids isn’t going to be a clean break, and many of the divorcees she interviewed said that if they’d known then what they know now, they wouldn’t have gone through with it. That by the time they’d gotten all settled in on the divorce side of the fence, the grass wasn’t actually greener after all.
How’s that for making you question your divorce fantasy? No matter how crazy your spouse makes you now, just imagine how crazy s/he is gonna make you once you’re divorced.
Because, as Bolick’s essay shows us, life as a single person isn’t always as wonderful as it’s cracked up to be.
Of course, neither is marriage. And as we all know, there are plenty of great things about being single, like being able to pick up and go wherever you want, whenever you want. The question, then, becomes: what’s the trade off? What are your larger goals in life?
For me, those goals include staying married to a man I love with my whole heart despite the fact that he often drives me insane. Plus raising our two young boys while–oh, yeah–getting my stalled career back off the ground. Oh, and not losing my mind. To accomplish any (much less all) of these things, I’ve realized that I absolutely need to have my own space. Which, around here, happens to be an orange office in the basement. Bright, bright orange. I definitely recommend it.
Bolick ends her essay by paraphrasing Virginia Woolf: What we all need, she says, is “a room of one’s own, for each of us. A place where single [and married women, I would add] can live and thrive as themselves.”
This post has been paid for by the Christian Coalition for The Advancement of Married People, a cause I didn’t realize I was representing until this very moment. If you happen to belong to said cause and would like to support our heroine in her quest to Save Her Marriage (or, perhaps, to Save Her Soul), please send your check to Tanja Pajevic at Reboot This Marriage, Boulder, CO. Thank you. This has been a public service announcement.