In the past, society dictated that women get married for financial and personal reasons. Financially, women’s jobs tended to be more in the line of secretary, teacher, nurse or stewardess. It made sense to get married for the financial security. Women often went from the parental home straight to the alter without any work experience except for babysitting. That may be one reason for the lower divorce rates – fear that alimony would not cover all living expenses. Nowadays the job market is wide open to both genders and there is no need to depend upon someone else to provide life’s necessities. There are a variety of jobs which do not mandate specific educational requirements, other than having a high school degree. Living wages are being enacted in many states which makes going it on one’s own less scary.
People also got married to start families. Children feel secure when their parents are married and even Brad Pitt’s and Angelina Jolie’s brood insisted that they tie the knot. But now, there are other options besides marriage for having children – and children are not the only way to satisfy those nurturing instincts. Single women whose biological clocks are ticking loudly are coming up with creative ways to become mothers without a husband. They adopt, have artificial insemination, or go the surrogacy route. Others get their mothering fix as aunts and godmothers. They love the kids, have fun, and get to give back the little darlings. The pet industry is booming and I have happily been introduced to people’s “children” (canine or feline). My cats may be spoiled, but my mothering is directed more to them than to my independent college age sons. Plenty of single men and women that I know are glad to have an animal as their housemate.
In the 1950s, people were coupled and did activities with other couples. This was an incentive to get or stay married – to be a member of a social group or country club. Today there are many options for socialization, such as through MeetUp.com, singles groups through church and volunteer organizations. Instead of the weekly dance at the country club, activities are also geared towards families, including festivals welcoming all. There is less of a division between the marrieds and not marrieds as in the past.
In my former city, I had plenty of gay guys for friends. Sometimes we would catch a beer or coffee after work and other times go out as a group. There was only laughter and no expectations as was with the straight guys that I dated. One advantage to being married is having a date for New Year’s Eve. Now I would rather have a low key evening at home and go out for lattes and a movie on New Year’s Day with my sons. There are events surrounding the holidays that are fun for singles and married folks. In days gone by, people married to have a sex partner. Now sex is widely available, whether in clubs, casual relationships and elsewhere.
There is no need to travel as a duo when so many travel agencies have trips for singles. Some cruise lines offer special sailings for the unattached. I go to London on business and feel quite at home there. I meet up with friends after a conference, however the pubs are welcoming to singles too. Big cities have lots of activities and are great for walking around museums, parks, going to the theater for solo visitors. Pick a few establishments where you feel comfortable going there alone. My favorite coffee shop at home and in London start making my extra foamy latte before I get through the door. I frequent Hatchard’s bookstore in Piccadilly and they recommend just the right book for my interests. Getting to know the staff at several venues makes it easy going there on your own. One elderly woman goes to the same restaurant several times a week and the staff have become her family.
I love my freedom post-divorce and answer to no one. When I got an e-mail for a flash sale on a European river cruise leaving next month, my friend and I booked it right away. She is also divorced and enjoys doing things on the spur of the moment. I write into the wee hours of the morning and am not dealing with a spouse with opposite work time.
If I fall in love again, I will not be marrying. I do not have to worry about merging finances, protecting my assets for my sons or losing my former spouse’s social security. I applaud friends who remarried and are living happily ever after and they respect my choice not to follow that path.
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