I'm not a scientist; I don't have a PhD; I don't conduct research studies for a living. But I read the news. I read blogs. I talk to people, and I observe. Based on what I’ve seen, heard, and observed, I truly don't believe married women are happier than single women just because they happen to be in a relationship. Barring a catastrophic event or a clinical diagnosis, happiness is a choice, regardless of your relationship status.
Are some married women blissfully happy? Of course. Are there also blissfully happy single women? No doubt.
There will always be single women who -- while working to support themselves, maintaining relationships with friends and family, dating, traveling, and generally living their lives -- are going to be unhappy. They may even think the sole cause of their unhappiness is the fact they’re not in a relationship.
But on the flip side, there are plenty of married women who are discontent. Maybe they feel like they’re being taken advantage of because they take on most of the household duties. Maybe their husband never takes the time to make them feel loved and appreciated. There could be all kinds of reasons.
Being married is not a magic cure-all for a low level of happiness. If that was the case, people would never get divorced. They would never cheat on their spouses. They would never complain about their partner to their girlfriends.
Many people think they'd be happier if they were just in a different situation. If you don't have a partner, you think you’ll be better off if there’s someone else around. If you do have someone, I bet there are plenty of times when that person gets on your last nerve -- and you envy your single girlfriends who get to go home by themselves at night.
Dr. Pam Spurr says “single women who say they are happy are lying."
[D]o you believe any single woman over 30 is being honest when she claims to be happy that way? I don't.
What's really going on behind that confident demeanour and fulfilled exterior is crushing loneliness and desperation.
Single women become adept at playing the isn't-life-grand game.
They have to do it around men so they don't appear desperate.
Does anyone else get upset when people use all-or-nothing phrases like, “You always do this,” or “You never do that?” How does Dr. Spurr think she can speak for all single women? (Or maybe she’s perfectly aware of the large number of happy single women, but uses phrases like the ones above to get the attention she craves?)
Megan Carpentier at Jezebel had this to say about Dr. Spurr’s article:
The title [of the article] alone makes me want to shake her, but reading it, oh dear God, reading it made me realize that she also needs to lose her license to treat her patients and be shaken by the shoulders until the stupid falls out. Why is it that some people — usually women — think that the only path to personal fulfillment is at the end of an aisle? […]
As far as I'm concerned, there's a reason the phrase "settling down" contains the word "settling," and that reason has a hell of a lot to do with the divorce rate. There's this social drum beat to marry, marry, marry that I think many women (and men) mistake for their supposed biological clock, and so they run off and pick the most likely candidate and off to the Grown Up Races they go. You know what really sucks? What makes a woman really, really, really unhappy? A fucked up relationship. I've found that you can actually be lonelier in an unhappy relationship with someone than being single.
Sure, it's nice to have someone. It’s great to be in a happy relationship. But to echo what Megan said, is there anything worse than being with someone who doesn't make you happy, or isn't right for you? I’d rather be lonely and single for the rest of my life than coupled and miserable.
In response to the article, Rachel Shukert at Salon says, "let's not forget [about] the men."
Study after study has found that married men are happier, are healthier and live longer than their unmarried counterparts -- so where are the articles bemoaning the plight of sad male singletons, huddled over pints with their buddies, ordering takeout in dingy apartments and haunted by generalized feelings of loneliness and despair?
Or does that just not sell?
Meganwegan is over 30 and single:
Now, fair disclosure, I would love to meet someone. I would love to meet a man who makes me smile, makes me laugh, is entertaining, and all the other things on my ever-growing list of things I want in a partner. But given recent history, and the fact he doesn’t appear to be appearing round any corners and time soon, I’ll get on with the business of making myself happy, thanks very much. […]
If being in a relationship makes you happy, great. But I would suggest that you’re never going to be truly happy in a relationship, until you are happy with yourself. And I’ve been around enough bad marriages to be in no hurry to march down an aisle, despite my love of big white dresses.
I'm not against being married. If it happens for me one day, it happens. But I do know that my happiness is up to me, and it isn’t dictated by who is (or isn’t) in my life at any particular time. It will be up to me to change my job if I can't stand what I'm doing. It will be up to me to find a new place to live if I'm no longer content where I am. It will be up to me to challenge myself to try new things and continue to grow as a person. It will be up to me to cultivate and maintain relationships with family and friends.
Those choices are up to me, whether I'm single or married.
What do you guys think?
(Contributing editor Zandria also blogs at Keep Up With Me.)
More from love