A lid for every pot?

Posted on April 17, 2012 by


I recently read this Washington Post article about the plight of increasing numbers of urban dwellers: Involuntary singleness. From the piece:

We talk a lot about singles, but we don’t talk about this: what it’s like to live without a partner while longing for one, over years, then decades.

Just 51 percent of the adult population is married, down from 72 percent in 1960. So we talk about swinging, “Sex and the City” singles and extended adolescences. We talk about the delay of marriage or the rise of cohabitation and single motherhood. Depending on our perspective, we cheer the broadening definitions of family or bemoan the breakdown of the nuclear unit.

But the cousin or neighbor or co-worker who always seems to be on his or her own? We don’t give them much thought.

It’s easier not to. Perhaps as much as religion, our society hinges on belief in romantic love. How many songs and novels revolve around the long search and eventual discovery of a beloved? The phrase “happily ever after” implies a singular outcome: two lives made ever better by virtue of their union.

Never mind that close to half of marriages end in divorce, that many of those who stay married do so unhappily, and that, rationally, we all know life can be a struggle regardless of relationship status. Ninety percent of us will marry — often repeatedly — on the belief that marriage can add something fundamentally good to our lives.

Certainly, there’s a huge biological imperative to pair up — procreation and protection of the young used to demand it. But reproductive technologies have expanded our baby-making options, and security systems do a good job of deflecting predators. And we still want the ineffable. We want love.

The hope is for a constant companion who will bear intimate witness to our lives. Who will heighten our joy and ease our suffering. Who will be our designated collaborator and caretaker, sparing us the effort of constantly fending for ourselves.

And we’re promised as much. There is a lid for every pot, they say. Someone for everyone.

Call me naive, but I happen to be one of those who believes that for the grounded, sane, moderately attractive person, there’s no reason to live life alone unless it’s your heart’s desire and you feel called to a life of singleness. I’m not an incurable romantic either, but I still believe this. Since these adjectives (grounded, sane, and moderately attractive) mean different things to different people, I’ll elaborate for the sake of discussion.

Grounded

Have a realistic assessment of your own attractiveness and worth. Don’t assume you’re entitled to a guy with Tebow’s physique (not to mention faith), Denzel’s smile, and Bill Gates’ wealth. Well maybe not Gates’ wealth exactly, but many women are expecting a guy who makes high six figures. Never mind that they don’t bring any complementary qualities to the table. Not that you have to choose someone equal to you in every way. I’m a 6 married to an 8. However, when you look at our relationship in its entirety it becomes easy to see where I possess what he lacks and he possesses what I lack. We complement and challenge each other well in the areas we each need it most. There is more to successful marriage than superficial considerations.

Too many women are obsessed with trivialities when they lack the basic qualities needed to be a valued life partner for a man who has even half the requirements they have on their exhaustive check list. Take off the blinders and take a heaping dose of reality. That alone will widen the prospects of quality men available for marriage. Know yourself. And if you don’t, surround yourself with honest straightforward people who will tell you like it is. If your friends agree with everything you say, telling you that you’re awesome even though you’re lazy, undisciplined, can’t boil water, and have never seen anything you’ve started through to completion, get new friends. Seriously, today. You’ll never find a man with those kinds of friends, and they like it that way.

Sane

This one piggybacks on grounded, but speaks to something a little deeper. Unless you’re sincerely mentally ill however, you can control your propensity to irrational behavior. You can train yourself to remember that life is not all about you, your thoughts, and your desires. Besides, if you can’t get outside yourself, put your feelings aside and identify with the feelings of someone else, you’re not wife material anyway. Trust me. Marriage requires far too much give and take to be entered into by people only interested in taking. It’s insane to consider marriage when you can’t envision a life where another person’s needs take precedent. Dare I type the dreadful word? I think I will: submission. Submission, submission, submission. Say it enough and eventually you’ll be able to say it with out breaking out in hives. Live it long enough and you’ll wonder why any wife would choose not to.

Moderately attractive

This is one of my soapbox issues so I’ll try to be gentle and brief. If you wear pajamas to the grocery store, your hair has a permanent ponytail indentation and your idea of exercise is walking from the computer to the fridge to get the Haagen Dazs, you’re shooting yourself in the foot in the attractiveness department. Unless you roll out of bed looking like Cindy Crawford at the height of her career, you’ll need to put in some effort. Saying a potential husband should just “love me as I am” will win you girl power points, but that’s about it. At the rate we’re going, you may one day be able to pile your girlfriends in the car, run down to the justice of the peace and make the whole thing legal. Who knows? But as things stand today, if you’re a woman who wants to get married (at least in my state) you need a man convinced that he can love you forever and that you will love him in return. Part of the way you demonstrate that is to care what you look like.

It stings. I know. I know we’ve been told for the past 50 years that it shouldn’t matter what you look like. That an extra 30 pounds, greasy hair, and unshaven legs are superficial means of judging a woman’s worth. I agree that these things taken by themselves are woefully inadequate measures of a woman’s wifely value. The problem is that these things are the outer layer that inspire a man to decide if he wants to be bothered to find out if you’re grounded and sane. So drop the Haagen Dazs  and get to the gym already.

Most single women looking for love are probably more challenged in the sanity and grounded department than they are in the physical attractiveness department. Young women are fairly settled on the need to be fit and as attractive as they can be if for other reason than to look good when they post their picture on Facebook. Sadly, we seem to be constantly swinging from one extreme to the next. Women are either attractive and crazy because they’ve only focused on the outside, or they’ve only focused on the inner while forgetting that a man has to like what he sees before he even bothers to get to what’s inside. Christian singles are particularly guilty of the latter.

(h/t: Will S on the WP article)