Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Husband-Free to Be You & Me

So, you’re still "single."

You’re not married, you’re not engaged, you’re not living with someone. You’re not in a relationship that is “serious,” “committed,” or “going somewhere.” You may be dating a lot, a little, or barely at all, but in any case, nothing has happened.

You are ready for the real thing. You’ve finished your education, your career is underway, and real life is waiting to begin—all you need is someone to share it with. You’ve made your mistakes, learned from them and moved on. You know what you want.

You’ve done your homework. Like a modern-day Margaret Meade, a Diane Fosse of dating, you’ve carefully analyzed male mating behaviors. You’ve studied the books and obeyed their instructions with the discipline of a Marine Corps cadet. You followed the Rules, broke the Rules, and then followed them again. Still nothing.

You’d make a good wife. A best friend, lover, and equal partner. You’re not looking for someone to rescue you or bankroll a lavish lifestyle; just someone to be by your side, to share whatever life has in store, and maybe even start a family. You’d make a great mother, and you know you shouldn’t wait too long to start. You worry about your waning chances and wonder if it’s already too late. You’re not looking for perfection, just someone who’s pretty darn good, or at least, good enough. It’s not too much to ask, is it?

The prospects seem grim. As time races by faster and faster, your chances of finding Mr. Right are decreasing as swiftly as your mother’s annoying questions are increasing. Your friends, neighbors, coworkers, siblings, and ex-boyfriends are all hooking up, getting hitched and having kids. Meanwhile, you suffer the indignity of one directionless date after another, alternating with lonely and boring nights at home. You attend a seemingly endless stream of engagement parties, weddings and baby showers, and while you are genuinely happy for your friends, your patience is wearing thin. It feels like it will never end, and you can hardly imagine a worse fate. You would not wish this upon your worst enemy, yet you cannot fathom how, why or when it happened to you. Where is he, already?

Ladies, this is no way to live! You know it, we know it, any woman who’s ever been "single"—yes, that means every woman—knows it, and knows it well. (All those smug marrieds used to be singletons, too, don’t forget!) When it comes to romantic relationships, you want more, you deserve more, and you should have more. But the only way to get more is to get married, right?


Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? From a strictly legal perspective, your marital status is completely straightforward. You either have a marriage license or you don’t. You’re a wife or you’re not. You have a husband or you don’t.

True enough. However, we all know that being married means much more than not sleeping with other people and filing joint tax returns. In a culture where keeping up with the Joneses has replaced baseball as the national pastime, being married means having more—more friends, more fun, more joy—and being single after a certain age means having less. Taken to its extreme, there is a sneaky, hidden place inside where you believe that being married means having everything—a home, a family, children, love, security—and being single means having nothing. Everyone can plainly see that in the game of love, there is no second place. No silver medal, no runner-up, no honorable mention. You are either a winner or a loser, either a wife or still single. That’s how it has always been and how it will always be, right?

I disagree.

“Single” is not only a state of being, it’s a state of mind. It’s the way you think, what you think about and how often you think it. It’s the way you see things, choosing to highlight this and ignore that. It's what you believe and what you question. It’s how you feel, and how you act on your feelings. It’s what you say and what you mean when you say it.

“Single” is not only your marital status, it’s how you live your life. It’s what you do, what you avoid doing, and the reasons behind those choices. It’s who you spend time with and how you spend time with them. It’s how you treat yourself and expect others to treat you. It’s how others reach out to you and how you respond.

Unfortunately, your state of mind and way of life as a woman who is "still single" may leave you feeling denied, deprived and sometimes even demeaned. You don’t like it, you don’t want it, you wish you could change it and yet, you are blamed for it. Even if you don’t feel deprived and denied all that often, or even not at all, it’s hard to avoid feeling demeaned by other people’s opinions about your love life or the lack thereof. “Single” says you’re missing something. “Single” says you are incomplete. At its least flattering, “single” implies all kinds of dysfunction, disease and disaster, even if none of them are true. In this day and age, “single” is an insult, an inaccuracy, or both. This, in a nutshell, is the essence of being single. Who wants to say they are still single? Who can feel good about it? As a way to describe yourself, “single” is simply awful. It is almost an accusation, practically an indictment, and over time, seems like a prison. It’s time to move beyond the limits of “single” and into something new!

I am here to tell you how to stop being “single” without getting married.

Be Husband-Free!

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