America is obsessed with marriage. I am getting married next year to the love of my life and I couldn’t be happier. Almost immediately following my engagement, I had girlfriends from all walks of life voicing how badly they wanted to get married as well. I felt bad in a way, as I did not want them to feel pressured to achieve that sort of a commitment just because I reached that stage in my life. I also did not want them to feel as if they were failures because I was engaged to my significant other and they were not.
When I attempt to glorify their situations, they will often reply: “Easy for you to say”. However, I still remember what it was like to be single. It was exciting and fun. There truly are many benefits for being single. I do not know of any separate benefits as far as gender differences go (I look forward to reading what my fellow peers think). The list that I have come up with is beneficial to both women and men who are single.
Living a single lifestyle means having the freedom to be spontaneous. You are able to see the world when and how want to. There are virtually no limitations—you can travel anywhere and anytime you choose. This also goes for career choices; since meeting my fiancé, I have personally had to pass-up career opportunities. When you are in a serious relationship and about to be married, the two of you are a team. You are no longer making decisions for yourself—you are making decisions for the both of you.
Another benefit to a permanent single lifestyle is that you have the ability to make your own decisions. You can do things you own way both socially and financially. An unmarried man or woman has the freedom to decide how they want to spend their time and who they want to spend it with. You may want to spend more time alone, with friends, family, or even travel to see friends and family that you don’t get to see as often as you would like. As far as finances go, you are not obligated to share expenses with another person. You choose how you spend your money and there’s no one to consult other than yourself.
If you are not living alone, then prepare to be ridiculed. “Oh my gosh, you LIVE together?!?!” Yes, my fiance and I are living together. I moved in with him after only 6 months of dating, gotta problem? No, but in all seriousness I’m so over this “living in sin” crap. It’s 2012. Get with it!
Cohabitation is not right or wrong, but a wave of the future. Page 250 in the Benokraitis text lists opposing views on the practice of living together. It states:
“Don’t make a habit of cohabiting because multiple experiences of living together decrease the chances of marrying and establishing a lifelong partnership”.
To me, a habit is a form of addiction, or an obsession. The word habit is not particularly associated with something of positive nature. I believe that in America, marriage is a symbol of succession. If a person is married, then one may have a false sense of trust instilled in them. They may see that their wedding ring signifies some sort of stability in their life—then comes the desire for others to want the same stability in their own lives.
As I dissect the reasons why I believe that America is obsessed with marriage, I attempt to point out the pressures of marriage as well. There is nothing wrong with living together before marriage. I mentioned in the beginning that cohabiting is a wave of the future. With the divorce rate so high, I think it’s actually pretty smart to test-drive the car before you buy it, so to speak.
There is also nothing wrong with remaining single, or not getting married. “…multiple experiences of living together decrease the chances of marrying.” I had to address this quotation again because it reads as if there is something wrong with NOT marrying—as if there’s a reference here that you will not succeed in life if you do not marry.
I think that it’s wonderful to have companionship in a lifelong partner however, I personally know unmarried couples that have been together for many years and have solid relationships; some more solid than married couples that feel “trapped” or unable to face the stigma, or financial consequences of divorce. It’s all so confusing. All I can say is learn to love; if it doesn’t work out, then learn to remain positive and happy.
Photo courtesy of Hawaii Derm.