March 16, 2007
The marriage conspiracy
Something Like Life
March 16-17, 2007
IS there one? Undoubtedly.
How many times do single women get accosted by married friends they haven’t seen for quite a while, or by relatives, with the bombshell question: “So, when are you going to get married?”
If you’re over 30 and still single, “The Others”—which I fondly call married couples (because like in the series Lost, they can be evil)—will never let up in harassing you with this question, sometimes even going so far as to investigate what you do with your life in an attempt to fathom the seeming mystery of your continuing singlehood. They will also forever try to fix you up with all the single men they know because they want you to be like them (i.e. fat and sedentary, with kids tearing at their hair every minute, and, when not at the office, usually stuck at home watching the latest telenovelas).
“Maganda ka naman, matalino ka…bakit di ka pa kasal?” they would press you. There is no easy way to answer these idiots without offending them. I just have to stop myself from actually blurting out, “Oo nga, kawawa ako noh? Ikaw nga panget at bobo, nakapag-asawa,” before cackling hysterically. I just settle with a dismissive: “Because I haven’t found someone to marry, obvious ba?”
There are so many unflattering names and descriptions for single women...old maid, spinster, hag, napag-iwanan ng biyahe, wala na sa kalendaryo, etc. In contrast, single men are given such a respectable term as “bachelor,” or the nonjudgemental “matandang binata”. What gives?
Single women often receive dinner invitations that require a date, a party where they are told to bring their husband or “significant other,” receive hotel gift certificates that say “for two.” Why does it cost more for a single woman to travel when, actually, there are less resources and energies expended by tour operators, airlines or hotels in servicing just one person? Whoever invented frigging single surcharges should be gutted and hung by his bootstraps!
Still, when you confidently attend events on your own with married couples in your midst, you are almost looked upon with pity. The Others start cracking jokes about their marriages and the mothers boast about their children and you are left out of the loop. You try to interject your story about the fabulous solo trip you took to some exotic destination like Bhutan, but you are ignored.
In this day and age, it still mystifies me how many people continue to think, albeit perhaps unconsciously, that a woman is worthless unless she is married and has children. I mean what about the four years she spent in college, and now her fabulous career? So the single woman now earns more money probably than most men her age, or is probably able to buy her own house and lot, car and furniture with money earned from her own profitable businesses...why isn’t she considered a success unless she has a family?
From youth, women are conditioned to think that the end-all and be-all of our existence is to get married and raise a family. (Men, on the other hand, are “programmed” to screw around as much as they want to with anyone they want to, no matter how many.) We are fed fairytales making us believe that our Prince Charming will come along and sweep us off our feet, wake us up from our long slumber, or rescue us from our dreary Cinderella lives. There will be a grand wedding in some castle that ends with a kiss. We are never told, nor do we ever ask, what happens next.
Because of this, sometimes a lot of women do get married for the wrong reasons. They expect so much from their husbands or the marriage itself that when the men fail to deliver, there are hurts, disappointments and, eventually, separations. Some women get hitched thinking they will find the satisfaction, peace and stability they’ve been craving for when they get married. They fall for the stupid fairytales, they romanticize marriage. Some women pin all their hopes on their husbands, then end up bruised by their own ignorance and delusion. Marriages today are complicated enough without you depending on your spouse for your fulfillment and happiness.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing marriage. My own parents celebrated their 50th year of “twogetherness” just two years ago. And I know that despite their often dysfunctional dynamics, especially now that they’re approaching their 80s, they can’t live without each other.
But some women fail to realize that a lot of hard work goes into getting a marriage going. I admire my parents, for example, for sticking by each other through the many misunderstandings and tragedies that have happened in their lives. I am personal witness to how many sacrifices have been made in our name, the children. I don’t know if I could make the same difficult choices my mother made just to ensure a good future for herself and our family. If I were in her place, I probably would have thrown in the towel a long time ago.
And so, when expectations aren’t met, some try to claw their way out of their marriage sinkhole.
In analyzing why her four-year marriage to perennial Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong ended in divorce, Kristin Armstrong nee Richard, appearing on Oprah last year, said she just “lost herself” and became a “yes” woman. Kristin gave up her job in the US, sold her car and rented out her home to move to France to be with Lance. She said she tried to be the “perfect wife and perfect mother...to please [him] for the sake of our marriage.” She talked about being dazzled by the “rock on her left hand than to readying her heart for the journey ahead.” No one told her that marriage was going to be a series of challenges and that she may no longer recognize herself after she’d pledged her love and devotion to her husband.
Sure, sometimes I think maybe it would be nice to have someone to come home to and talk to at the end of a long day, or have someone to lay in bed with the entire Sunday just snuggling, or to have sex with regularly. We do need someone to share our burdens with or build a future with. But there comes a point in a single woman’s life that she will find other things, people, or activities that will fulfill those needs. Wanna snuggle? Get a dog. Want to have sex? Pick someone up at a bar. (Or get a vibrator.) Want a baby? Go to a sperm bank or convince your best male friend to donate his “mini-me’s.” Want to unburden? Call a friend.
I’m being facetious, of course. The point is, being single isn’t the end of the world. We are blessed with a lot of opportunities for personal growth and career advancement. It’s a whole lot better than ending up in the wrong marriage.
(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror.)