I recently ran into a woman who I hadn't seen in forever. We went to high school together. We had, apparently, missed each other at high school reunions, so there was a lot to catch up on. I'm always interested in "whatever happened to" stories, so I was looking forward to hearing hers.
Except I never really got the chance to hear much of her story, because she got stuck in mine. And I don't mean she was stuck in what I consider my pretty interesting life. No, she was stuck on the fact that I had never married. "What happened?" she asked.
I tried to blow it off by laughingly replying that "I'd been having too much fun." But it didn't work. She dug in with more of the same question, just re-worded... which is what has led me to penning this article.
With the release of the 2010 U.S. Census and various other research studies on singles (The Pew Research Institute, just to name one), we all know by now that there are lots of single women out there. My being single, as in 'never married,' just shouldn't be that astounding. We're everywhere.
But for those who still get tripped up over meeting a woman who has never been married, here are five questions that I (and women like me) would like not to be asked again:
1. "What's wrong with you?" Usually paraphrased as, "Why aren't you married?" but we know what you really mean. Sometimes, it's the tone in your voice that gives it away. My answer to the voiced question is "marriage isn't for everyone." (I know that, and so do you.) The answer to the implied question is "nothing, really." I know that neither of these responses satisfies, but they'll just have to do, because they're the truth.
2. "Who will take care of you when you're sick/old?" (especially if you also don't have kids). I honestly don't know the answer to this question. You don't know the answer to this question, either. We both know what we would hope to happen and they are the same. We hope that we'll be tenderly cared for by people who love us. This might include your husband and/or kids... but it might not. Things happen and there are no guarantees.
3. "Do you... um... like men?" Meaning either "Are you gay?" or "Are you one of those angry feminist types?"or both. Yes, I like men. No, I'm not gay. And I'm not angry.
4. "You're not being too picky, are you?" I never really know how to respond to this one. Sometimes, I wish the asker had been more picky in her choice of mate. Most of the time I just laugh, as I think about some of the characters I've had as mates. I don't think anyone who knows me well thinks I've been too picky. In fact, maybe I should have been more picky. I tend to enjoy men who are the opposite of steady and stable, though I think steady and stable probably are good husband characteristics.
5. "What happened?!" See 1.
Some of my writings on this topic are feigned outrage, because I do kind of get it. Though being married at this moment in time is slipping away as the statistical norm, it very much remains the societal norm. Adults are still expected to get married. And marriage can be a really good thing. I just want to do my part to help people to acknowledge that it's not the only thing.