By Mims Cushing
Worry. Years ago, when I lived up north, a minister announced in a church service that he was worried about the single people in the audience. He didn’t mean he was concerned about them having an accident in their home. He meant he was sad people were sitting there without a spouse. I was stunned.
Wedding season is almost upon us. Many of my single friends enjoy “single serenity.” They say they are their own best friend. That doesn’t mean they don’t have friends. They love people. Some had much older siblings and lived in a house that didn’t have a lot of action. Solitude is peaceful to them.
In an article by Rebecca Traistor, “Single by Choice: Why Fewer American Women Are Married Than Ever Before,” she writes marriages aren’t happening so much today. In nine short years, married adults sank from 57 percent in the year 2000 to just 52 percent in 2009. According to the U.S. Census, today single women outnumber married women.
Traistor said to Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air that women are choosing “to live singly if an appealing marriage option doesn’t come along.” Women aren’t telling themselves “I guess I better get marriage done before I’m being told I’m an old maid.” Doesn’t the phrase “Old Maid,” sound dated? Not to mention the word spinster. The mother of my friend Jane, when asked if her daughter was married responded, “No, she’s not. She’s one of the lucky ones.” She said that back in the ‘70s, when it was quite a concept. In Traistor’s new book, “All the Single Ladies,” she says women give themselves greater independence nowadays because of more parity economically with men — though females are still far from being on a par with men in terms of salary.
Certainly among the older women I know they are less apt to marry again — especially if they are divorced or widowed. It doesn’t mean that they are rejecting marriage, but that they don’t feel a man will enhance their lives, unless it’s the right man. They don’t feel they need a lid to put on their pot.
Traistor gives us the statistic that in 2016 only 20 percent of American girls aged 18 to 29 are married. In 1960 that figure was 60 percent.
I hope single women don’t worry about married women, any more than the opposite is true. I recognize that some people are hardwired to want to have a man in their lives. Fine. I will not worry about them. But young women are right in thinking they should get out of college and “find themselves.” Living by yourself for a few years before marriage is something more and more women are doing. And sometimes that’s when they discover, Hey! Living by myself independently is okay.
“Settling down” doesn’t have to mean settling down with a spouse. In The Christian Science Monitor, June 14, 2015, author Stephanie Hanes notes in her article,“Singles nation: Why so many Americans are unmarried,” that unmarried women way outnumber those who are married. In today’s world, 31 million are alone, as opposed to 4 million in 1950. The article goes on to say that four out of 10 Americans say “marriage is becoming obsolete.” But the article ends with the sentence, “Marriage still remains a highly valued state … It just doesn’t play as large a role … as it used to.”
Worrying about others living alone is not helpful, unless they are ill. But even then, prayer is more helpful than worry. A certain amount of female independence is here to stay. Don’t worry about it. Be Happy.