It’s time to stop feeling sorry for single women because they’re happier than just about everybody. Three of the most fun and joyful people from my childhood were aunts who never married. They ate what they wanted, saw whom they wanted, and traveled when they wanted. They made their own money and kept their own names.
At the same time, a constant societal noise proclaimed that a woman had to be married to be happy, liked, and successful. Single women were deemed sad and unwanted losers, sufferers of some sort of defect. Ending up “left on the shelf” was considered a fate worth than death.
Some things about marriage are annoying
I feared being left on the shelf, but from an early age, I feared certain things about marriage even more. I noticed that married women didn’t get vacations. They worked on weekends and on holidays. At parties, they helped out in the kitchen while the men sat in the living room laughing and calling for fresh beers. I didn’t like the fact that weddings cost women their identities.
Eventually I did marry, but not until I turned 30. I didn’t take my husband’s name at first, but after we had children, people called me “Mrs. MacDonald,” or worse, “Mom,” so I went with it. I called myself “Terry Hernon MacDonald,” fearing that nobody would have the time or patience for “Marie-Therese Hernon MacDonald.”
As my children got older, I used MacDonald less and less. It’s a fine name, but it’s not my name. So, here I am, Marie-Therese Hernon again. (If that’s still too long for you, please call me Terry.)
Single women like being single
I’m married, but I have single friends. Without exception, they say they are a) not in a hurry to meet a man, or b) not interested in meeting a man for as long as they live. These women genuinely like men, value their friendship and companionship, but none of them is is willing to dip a toe into a situation where they may end up being controlled, devalued, or unheard, which is still too prevalent in hetero relationships.
And that’s the problem. A lot of men like to dominate, and a lot of women aren’t into it. We never have been into it. Economic and social factors forced us to put up with it for centuries, but single women are increasingly picky. They want men who love them and make their happiness a priority. They will settle for nothing less.
(Think Hugh Jackman, not Mel Gibson.)
In college, a male professor told me, “After a man dies, the widow starts living.” I didn’t want to believe him. I knew unhappily married people, definitely, but my parents loved each other. More important, they liked each other. But as I got older and saw my friends legally bound to gas lighters and garden variety control freaks, I got the drift.
Now I’d go as far to say the same thing of divorced women. Despite the fact that they’re often disadvantaged economically after severing ties with a husband, the ones I know are really very merry. Any social stigma that remains for divorcees doesn’t trouble them. They’ve dived back into freedom and happiness with abandon.
So, stop feeling sorry for single women. They’re happier than everybody.