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Mar 26

Would you rather be married or single?

Posted on Friday, March 26, 2010 in Aging, dating, Divorce, Happiness, love, Marriage, Relationships, Sex/sexuality, Singles

A few years ago, as I was standing on the soccer field sidelines watching The Kid do his magic, a mom I marginally knew through The Kid’s various sports started chatting.

It was the usual meaningless sideline chitchat — “How have you been?” “Good, and you?” — but then it switched to either something more genuine or, perhaps, voyeuristic.

What’s it like to be single?” — a valid
question since I was still a relatively newbie

And so I shared a little of the ups and downs of my new life as a cliche — 40-something
divorced Marin mom. But, as I started telling
her what was going on, I realized there was more up than down. And it was true; I was past the point of figuring out “Who am I now?” — which consumed a good year of my life, a celibate year, BTW, which was necessary but still sucked — and onto the next phase, which included Boy Toys followed by lots of dating
and safe but raunchy sex with guys other than the one whose boxers I washed for 15 years.

If you could forget the financial struggles and the uber-exhausting work-home balance thing, I was having fun.

“I envy you,” she said.

Envy me? What in the world was there to envy? I wondered.

Then, for whatever reason, the conversation moved to a different level — a  confessional level. She and her husband were struggling — what married couple isn’t? — and she was turned off by sex. Well, that’s not exactly true. She was absolutely interested in sex; she confessed some pretty freaky sexual fantasies that even had me blushing, so it wasn’t as if she’d suddenly turned frigid. She wanted to be ravaged in real life as she was in her dreams — just not by her husband.

And that’s a bit of a problem, isn’t it?

There are many of us who are perfectly content being married, and then there are those who look at singles with envy — we have freedom! we have sex (or for some, no sex)! we have no one to answer to! — while they have a hubby who snores and farts, doesn’t do his share around the house or with the kids, and who spends his weekends watching ESPN.

And yet, ask any single person what he or she wants — even the quirkyalones (remember them?) — and I’ll bet it will be this, a partner.

If most singles didn’t want to be happily hooked up, there wouldn’t be the massive (and incredibly lucrative) singles industry — dating coaches, self-help books, singles seminars, online dating sites, matchmakers, etc. — all intent on finding us The One, or someone close enough.

It’s the classic green grass on the other side thing for many: married folk envy singles, singles want to be married.

We all love a love story. In the past week, Single Mom Seeking blogger and author Rachel Sarah announced that she got engaged; dozens of her readers — me, too! — chimed in to wish her the best, the most comments she’s gotten on her blog in a long time.

Many of those same people have written in to celebrate her moments of triumph as a single mom, and offered advice for her “seeking.” But now, she is a “singles success story” — she’s getting hitched.

We all want a story to end with, “and they lived happily every after.”

I don’t need or necessarily want to be married again, but I certainly don’t want to spend my golden years alone. I’ll bet my fantasy-filled soccer mom doesn’t, either. And the closer I get to the age when I am no longer a desirable woman, the more seriously I think about that.

People like Lori “Marry Him!” Gottlieb say that none of her quasi-happily married female friends would trade places with her, a single 40-something choice mom. And people like “Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized and Ignored and Still Live Happily Ever After” author Bella DePaulo are always throwing out stats on how singles can, well, live happily ever after all by themselves.

Having been single, married, divorced and now in a relationship, I can say each offers its unique joys and sadness. I would like to find something that offers the best of all of those without having it look like a marriage, just like what author Elizabeth Gilbert was hoping to find with her lover, Felipe, who lived halfway around the world from her, at the end of “Eat, Pray, Love.” Then, she went and got married on me — !! — leaving me all alone in trying to figure it out. Yeah, thanks, Liz …

So, which would you rather be — married or single, and why?

Photo © Igor L.Petroff –