Monday, September 19, 2011

Discovering I'm Single at Heart

Photo: Stock Xchng/sundstrom
This week is National Unmarried and Singles Week.

Bella DePaulo wrote a great post posing questions that might reveal whether one is single at heart. I could answer yes to some, but not all, of the questions, and that was more than enough to reveal to me that I'm meant to be single.

My parents were cleaning out their attic recently, which meant that I had to go through some childhood boxes. I came across a paper I'd written about how I imagined my life at 30. I wrote about living in a Flashdance-like warehouse, taking voice, dance and acting classes, going to rehearsals, performing. There was nothing in that paper about a spouse or date. Granted, the paper was a fantasy, but I find it telling that the fantasy didn't include a man. (Or woman, for that matter.)

I don't remember ever fantasizing about a wedding when I was a kid, either. Nor do I ever tell the girls, "when you get married..." or even "when you have kids..." I don't presume that's their future. I might say, "if you get married" or "if you have kids," but I try to make it clear that's it not necessarily a given.

I thought it was a given. Even if no one explicitly said it, the presumption was there. People grow up, develop their careers, get married, and have children, right? Not necessarily.

While I have been married twice, I can't say that either time really felt like it was a choice. Who says no to a marriage proposal? (Particularly if you're pregnant with the asker's second child.) I'd never heard of or seen someone actually turn a proposal down. If someone asks, then there must have been something I did to make them assume I'd say yes.

X and I had talked about the fact that we weren't married, but I think he took my question to mean that I was fishing for a marriage proposal. I hadn't been. I was just wondering out loud why neither of us felt it necessary. But when he did propose, I sort of felt cornered into saying yes.

Being married felt like one of those responsibilities one takes on in adulthood. Like paying your rent/mortgage, or buying insurance. It never felt like a choice.

The day I became divorced was one of my happiest. And I don't think it was just because I was ending a bad marriage. I think it was because I was no longer married, period. I get to be single again; phew!

Being single is not the ideal choice for everyone. But what doesn't get said often enough is that marriage isn't, either.

We all have a choice. This week, I'll be celebrating mine.


Clare said...

I love this! This is my first visit to your blog and clearly I am going to have to read more. I especially like and relate to how you talk to your children about marriage. Or rather, how you don't. I feel the same.

Tara R. said...

"Being single is not the ideal choice for everyone. But what doesn't get said often enough is that marriage isn't, either."

That is a truth many people need to learn to embrace.

Missy June said...

I'm doing my best to raise kiddos with the choice to marry or not, expectations make life more complicated.

Personally, I loved the idea of being married, and can't remember a time when I didn't desire the companionship of a spouse (well, now I'm not longing for that). But I wrongly assumed two people would work together...that is what I hoped for.

BigLittleWolf said...

I couldn't agree more, April.

I wish that "marital alternatives" in this country were more fact than fiction.

Mandy said...

Choices .. we all need them. I'm thankful that I know now, I do have a choice about being married and like you, I want my children to know that also.