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Writer's Block: Go it alone

Do you think society puts too much pressure on people to be in relationships and/or have children? Do you think this ostracizes people who would be perfectly content to remain single and/or child-free? Is this pressure worse around the holidays?

I think it depends very much on where you are and how seriously you take popular media. I know people -- especially women -- who do feel this pressure, but I never have. Just yesterday at work I overheard a young woman talking about her upcoming marriage. She did express love for him, and said he was a wonderful person, but she also said that the decision was made in large part so she could have health insurance. Then she said that her parents were ecstatic when they heard the news and told her Grab him and marry him while you can! -- which made me shudder. I don't know why they were so fixated on her getting married, but it's the kind of comment I never heard from my own parents.

No one, within my family or outside of it, has ever suggested that there was something wrong with me or sad about my life because I was single and/or childless. Since my divorce, no one has asked me when I'll marry again. No one tries to set me up on dates because my social status is a problem that needs to be fixed. I've always been grateful for that.

Most of the adult single women I've known have expressed a deep desire for partnership, but it's almost always seemed to me more an expression of a desire for love, support and companionship rather than to meet some societal expectation. The one friend who comes to mind who has talked about being viewed as a failure because she was single by her family and the people around her, comes out of an entirely different culture than I did.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 9th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
For all of the other pressure I got from my mother to conform to this, that, or the other social standard, I never got pressure from her to marry or have kids. In fact, she always seemed happiest when I was not involved with anyone. That is more due to her own issues than to an enlightened decision to eschew the messages of the popular media; my first therapist thinks Mom's justifiable disappointment in her relationship with my father makes it difficult for her to be anything but negative about my sister or me in relationship with a man. (She thinks my sister-in-law walks on water, though. But that's about believing her son is the perfect child, so of course would choose the perfect spouse!) She even said to me, "I would rather see you struggle with being single than struggle in an unhappy marriage."

In spite of her lack of pressure, I have felt pressure to marry and/or have children, but it was more due to my own ideas of "normal" than other people constantly harping on it. The few times someone pointedly said, "When are you going to settle down?" was like nails on a chalkboard, but I think it was because I was already so upset at not having what I thought was a normal life for someone my age. I viewed myself as a failure, but started growing out of that mindset as I reflected on the active, fulfilling, admirable life of my late Aunt Mo.
Dec. 10th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
My family never said a word about my being single. There was no pressure to conform to any sort of "normal." Which is good, because how disappointed would they be. ;)
Dec. 11th, 2009 02:04 am (UTC)

For all my parents' worry about me being "normal" my marital and childbearing prospects never seemed to be part of that characterization. I guess I should count myself fortunate!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Queen of Swords

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