Ever since I was very young, I’ve known that I was a loner. In 1st grade, my class had to make a collage with the theme “What will I Do in 20 Years”. Out of us 15 kids, I was the only one to not include something relating to marriage or children. This sparked a letter home to my mother, telling her that
I might need to talk to someone about “accurate life goals and the importance of having a family”. Then again, it was a private Catholic school…
Now that I’m 29, and still have no desire for marriage or children, I’ve noticed that there are more and more people that seem to believe that an unmarried life with no offspring is a death knell. Men and women alike, regardless of their age in relation to my own, feel compelled to let me know that there is someone out there for me…that maybe I should have my fertility tested…that adoption is always an option…that they are happy to set me up with their nephew/son/friend/grandson. Never once do they ask if I’m okay being single, it is always assumed that I must be miserable and lonely.
But I’m not, and here’s my reasons why going your own way is preferable to some of us;
1. Personal Space
Let’s face it: Living with someone else can be annoying at times. Whether they’re a relative, roommate, boy/girlfriend, or spouse, you’ll get on each others nerves once in a while (if not more). You’ll fight over what to watch on TV, over who ate the last slice of pizza, whose turn it is to do the dishes, etc. If you’re close, it may take a while and may not even be a real fight, much less argument…but sharing a living space with another person or persons will eventually cause a little friction. Add kids and pets to that mix, and your home can probably be confused with a zoo at least once a week.
For most, this is a perfectly acceptable long-term situation. People have different personalities, it’s to be expected that you’ll not get along 100% of the time. Hopefully, everyone can be adults about these differences and provide structure/discipline to any younglings. If this is what you want from life, cool. Take my blessings, please. But recognize that I/others are more of the quiet variety. Solitude is addicting to certain personalities, and our homes are the clean, comforting sanctuary we come home to everyday. That’s not to say I won’t let a down-on-their-luck friend use my sofa bed…but if they stay for over a week, there should be a very good reason why.
Going along with the whole “family” thing is undoubtedly how to balance time between work and the spouse and/or children. If you are one of the breadwinners of your home, you may be required to work long hours, take clients out for food/entertainment, have meetings, or write proposals that read like 30 page VCR manuals. Can you do this at home? Some yes, some no…but it’s easier to not in any case. One of the biggest things my married friends fight about with their wives is the fact that they are “never home”. Others have commented on how they had to pass up a promotion because it meant moving to a new location. People who have no children or spouses are free to do as they wish, and can put in as many hours or move any place imaginable, all without needing to worry about how it could affect our home life.
If you already know yourself to be a very career-oriented person, family life may not be for you. Even if you make enough so that your spouse would be able to stay home with the kids, you will most likely have disagreements about helping with homework and school activities. With no children, you may still have arguments of division of chores, bills and household maintenance. Again, I’d hope that everyone involved in a serious relationship could agree on these things…but all to often they cause a lot of tension. If you are like myself and others who enjoy the success of the workplace, just weigh the pros and cons before trying to do it all.
We see it on TV all the time, usually from the male perspective: The main character wants to go out with their friends and coworkers for a night of bowling, drinking, strip clubs, or a well-earned celebratory meal…but they can’t because the wife won’t let them. Unfortunately, this mimics real life more than some would care to admit, and sometimes the sexes are even reversed. I’m not saying that a husband or wife should be able to just paint the town red every night…that would be irresponsible, since family needs time together to flourish and grow.
But when past and current friends have had to cancel movie night 3 times in a row because they have to watch “Sex and the City”, or can’t make it to a get-together planned 4 months in advance because their wife or girlfriend decided it was more important for him to accompanying her to a spur-of-the-moment “garden expo”…I truly feel sorry for them. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been in a serious relationship, but I know I’d get resentful of a spouse who seemed to have something planned everyday of the week. I like my freedom to come and go as I please, and I know there are others who do too.
If you are a typical single American, you probably go on dates and you often want to look your best for them. You watch your weight, exercise, eat healthy most of the time, and basically try to stay physically attractive. And since you are single you have more time to do these things (if you don’t think so, take a hard look at your schedule). Other than the “freshman 15” that college students are known for, people typically put on more weight after marriage…and whatever the reason, it often stays on.
Now, that’s not to say that every married couple is unhealthy or overweight. I used to know some that would go jogging together everyday…even with strollers when kids arrived! But remember, I am writing this in America, and we aren’t known for our trim population.
Even if you’re atypical like myself and don’t date at all, staying in shape is easier when you’re single. Better yet, you’ll be doing it for you! Force yourself to learn to cook nutritious meals, go to the gym whenever you have time, save up and buy yourself and exercise machine or some free weights…You may still carry an extra 5 or 10 lbs as you get older, but you can avoid packing on any more than that if you workout.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes X with the baby carriage…and crib and bassinet and bottles and diapers and college tuition and…You get the drift. Children cost a LOT, even if you only have 1, and most couples have an average of 2.5. Obviously caring for your next generation of family is very important, and should be considered the most worthwhile investment a parent can make. But if you didn’t have children in the first place, they wouldn’t need care at all.
Even spouses can eat up a significant about of money you wouldn’t have otherwise spent. Maybe your spouse wants to redo the entire kitchen or living room, when you know it’s perfectly serviceable the way it is. Or perhaps they come from a wealthier family, and “need” to take a week long vacation to Hawaii every year. Well, there goes that credit card payment…
I’m not saying that single men and women are all complete minimalists. I didn’t have to buy the R2-D2 version X360 when it came out, just as I also didn’t need to buy myself any Chinese food today since I have a well-stocked pantry. But since I live alone, I also made an $1,200 payment on my credit card without worrying if I needed the money for anything else. When you and only you are responsible for your monthly budget, it helps to pay bills down quickly. You also don’t have to worry about money “going missing” or opening your wallet at work to find that the $60 you had is now only $10…
6. Learning About Yourself
This one may not be immediately evident, but it is no less important than an anything else I have mentioned so far. In fact, it may be one of the most important aspects of going your own way yet. You see, when you’re single you have time to do the things you like, or have always wanted to do…and even things you never considered.
You can save up to buy a Harley and go for long rides every weekend. Try your hand at carpentry, or take a photography class. Learn to cook amazing meals, or finally fix up the Cadillac you bought 2 years ago. Take walks at night. Go hiking with old friends. Buy a “fixer upper” home and turn it into something great. Go back to college and get a degree.
Really, so long as you have the funds, motivation, and self-discipline, you can do nearly anything. In doing so, you’ll learn more about yourself than you ever dreamed possible. Your sense of personal responsibility will sharpen, you’ll have stronger opinions and beliefs, you’ll know more of your likes and dislikes. And why is this? Because you’re living for yourself, of course!
7. Being Conscious Of Choice
Be honest with yourself for a minute: How many times in your life so far have you sacrificed your personal happiness to fulfill societal expectations or to please someone who wasn’t going to remain in your life anyway? I don’t mean things like doing your fair share of chores, or obeying common laws…those should be obvious. I mean things that you really only did so that your peers or society in general wouldn’t think you’re “weird” or “odd”. What if marriage was one of these things?
My readers might be surprised to learn that I’ve personally met and read about quite a number of people who’s only reason for getting married or having children was because they “had to”, or them were told it was the only way to truly be happy. It’s all part of the script, right? You finish high school, get a job, go to college, get married, have kids, buy a house…so on, so forth. And if you decide this script isn’t for you? “Well, why the hell are you being so different? Obviously there’s something wrong with you, because no one in their right mind would choose to stay single. You must hate women/men if you decide to live this way…right?”
Not so much. The majority of us who choose to go our own way have many different reasons for doing so, and maybe I’ll go over the rest of mine some other day. Personally, I know there are plenty of good men out there that I’m sure would be wonderful, caring, equally nerdy spouses. Heck, some of them are my customers. But to them, and all the women I wouldn’t have married anyway, I wish them the best in living their lives as they wish…regardless of what that entails. Men and women alike should feel no pressure to commit to a lifestyle they have no desire to be part of. It’s no one’s life but your own, and nobody is going to live it for you. Take the reins and direct it as you wish!
As for me, I’m happily single, and have no need for that to change.
The Cheese Stands Alone