I just read that this week is National Single Americans Week.
Looking around, it's easy to see that Americans have a strong bias towards marriage. Tax laws and health care are just two examples of how the American system favors married people. The high number of divorced people who remarry, (some several times), shows how deeply ingrained into our culture the idea of marriage has become. 100 Best Things About Being Single: Part 1 of 5 [GALLERY]
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Being single has a bad reputation that I don’t think is deserved.
For one thing, single people tend to help out in their communities more than married people. Dr. Naomi Gerstel, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, has written numerous reports on the lives and attitudes of singles. Her research has shown that single people are more generous with helping others, more likely to visit their neighbors, spend more time with siblings, and are significantly more likely to care for aging parents than married people are.
Yet, the bias continues.
A 2009 study showed that unmarried women in their 30's considered themselves "losers" for being single, regardless of how successful they were in their professional lives. Studies have shown that married people are healthier and live longer than singles, but that probably has more to do with higher levels of oxytocin in couples who live together than anything specific to the institution of marriage. 100 Best Things About Being Single: Part 2 of 5 [GALLERY]
Perhaps it's time to question this bias. Marriage is great for some people. Although I'm not a fan, I have been married for twenty years! I can say with certainty that my husband is much happier being married than he would be single. He’s one of those people who is deeply loyal in love; he’s never even considered straying. For those loyalists, I say get married and live happily ever after. The rest of us, who handle monogamy with varying degrees of success, should perhaps stop to consider whether a traditional marriage is right for us. I envy my single friends, even though my relationship with my husband is important to me.
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When it comes to marriage, question your motives. If you're getting married to make your mother happy or because you think it's something you "should" do, think again. Especially if you’re one of those people who’s not so good at monogamy, ask yourself if you really, truly want to get married. If the answer is yes, be sure to talk with your partner up front about ways you can make your marriage less traditional and more in sync with each of your patterns and tendencies. You don’t have to have your parents' marriage. If you do get married, make it your own union. Make it work for both of you.
And, in honor of National Single Americans Week, three cheers for the singles out there. Enjoy your freedom.