Married Women, Please Do Us Single Ladies A Favor And Keep It Real About Marriage
You know how as human beings we always have a tendency to want what we don’t have? I have a theory that if most single women really knew what it was like to be married, they wouldn’t be so anxious to find themselves crossing the threshold.
Now that’s not to say I don’t think marriage is good, enjoyable, or even beneficial to one’s quality of life. But what I do realize the older I get (and the more married women I talk to), is that there is a great deal of privilege in being single and I take way too many of those benefits for granted when I’m pressed about wanting a man.
Recently, I was on a panel about navigating the work place as a Black woman when the subject of work-life balance came up. I was planning to give an answer but another woman on the panel spoke up before I did, talking about how she had no choice but to make her health a priority after an unfortunate incident. She explained that she’d literally started to go blind in one eye as a result of the stress of traveling with one of her kids who’s a gymnast and the day-to-day responsibilities of being a wife and mother. After that story, I decided I didn’t really have much to add to the conversation, and afterward I told my friend who was in the audience I felt kind of inadequate being on the panel with all these women who were juggling so much between work and home.
“Did you not hear that woman say she almost went blind?” my friend asked as we both laughed at my absurdity. She was right. While I may have felt unqualified as a single, childless woman on the panel (which was inaccurate), I also never felt more grateful to be either of those things. Or more aware that when I say I don’t have time to do something, it truly is an excuse.
My friend and I went to grab a drink after the panel and a gentlemen came over and introduced himself to us. He told me how he noticed me when I came in the bar and gave his friend a nod of approval when I walked in. After a bit of small talk, he invited us to come to a different spot later that evening for a day party that was going on and my friend was enamored that I’d captured the eye of a potential beau so quickly. Fast forward a few hours when we go to the day party and the whole time ol’ boy is hugged up on a woman whom he’d obviously known for more than that night and avoiding making eye contact with me at all costs.
“See, be glad you don’t have to deal with this,” I told my friend who’s been married for a few years now.
“Be glad you don’t have to deal with what I deal with,” she shot back at me.
She’s not the first married friend to stop me dead in my “you’re lucky you’re married” tracks. In fact, every time I see one of my other betrothed girls she advises me to just make money and have sex with whomever I want to for the rest of my life. And I can’t say that doesn’t sound like a good idea, especially after reading this article she sent me on the emotional labor of marriage. Similarly, the friend I was hanging with told me she loves her husband and her family (they have one child), but she doesn’t think she would get married again if, God forbid, something happened to her relationship.
“Why do so many married women press single women about getting married like it’s the greatest thing in the world?” I asked my friend over brunch the next morning, the subject still weighing heavily on my mind. I brought up all the old ladies in the church who love to shame women for still being single at the ripe old age of 23 when they know they went through some mess with their husbands. We both decided misery simply loves company. Thankfully, the new generation of married woman values transparencies over feigned perfection and I can’t thank you all enough.
The more my friends open up about that elusive “hard work” everyone says marriage is but no one can really articulate, the more I realize I’m stressing myself trying to have something I may not really even want, am likely not ready for, and will surely bring about more stress than my current solitary lifestyle entails. That’s not to say the trade-off won’t be worth it and that I still don’t long for companionship and the pinnacle of commitment that marriage symbolizes to me, but it is a reminder that I need to calm the f-ck down about rushing to enter into a union in which my life will no longer be mine.
And that’s a reminder I wish most women had. As I routinely overhear and sometimes even engage in conversations with women as they express angst over whether “he” will ever come, sometimes I want to ask: do you really know what you’re signing up for? Ninety-nine percent of us don’t. We’re just caught up in the allure of romance and the perceived stability marriage provides. We put more time into wondering when he’ll show up instead of thinking about what it’ll look like when he does — you, know the hard parts. And it doesn’t help when other women around us pretend being a wife is all roses and sunshine.
I love the idea of having a life partner. I still want one. But I feel my fear of adjusting to life with one might be just as real as the fear of never finding one, and I don’t see that as a bad thing. It helps me appreciate my single time more and think more critically about what I might be getting into when a potential partner comes along. And I have my honest, married friends to thank for that. If you’re serious about wanting to take that leap, I’d advise you spend more time with your friends who’ve already gone down that path. It might just give you a little more peace while you wait — provided they keep it real.