The Married vs. Single Conundrum

There is a common misconception that has been plaguing those of us who have been filed under the category of ‘taken’. Especially when in that limbo of ‘married sans children’. We become social pariahs among our single friends, seemingly stricken of the ability to entertain with stories about our sex lives. Even to family, you feel as if you’ve slain a unicorn if you aren’t hitting established married societal milestones such as having a baby, buying a house, or becoming fat and unattractive. I also know the single friends on the other side of the playground are getting it just as rough.

However, I digress.

It’s the never-ending married vs. single conundrum, both equally compelling when stripped down bare. Adding a wedding band to my left hand’s ring finger does not automatically equate to wanting to stay in every damn night wearing flannel pajamas and be asleep before 10pm. And being single doesn’t automatically make you broken or a brazen whore. (Unless you are a brazen whore – do you!)

See, in my 15+ years of dating, I’ve learned people always want the fantasy – not the reality. The reality is what they settle for and marry, even with the smartest and most beautiful among us. There are no exceptions to this rule, and had Romeo and Juliet not both been young and dumb, they were destined for the same. For those of us who have found how to live perpetually on the fantasy side of the spectrum, I raise a glass to us. It’s how we survive and succeed in marriage, and in life – with a little help from vodka. With New Year’s Eve on the horizon, an evening that is supposed to end with the perfect kiss at midnight, I thought I’d muse on the subject of relationships.

 Marriage isn’t for everyone.

Everyone does not want to get married, and not everyone should be married. I’ve talked to people who are in every stage of a relationship cycle – dating, engaged, happily married, unhappily married, divorced – and if one thing is clear to me, Pat Benatar was right: Love is a battlefield. Nowadays, people and marriage have become extremely complex. No longer is marriage based on status, how many mules you have, and a somewhat guarantee of not being burned at the stake after being labeled a witch because you’re single at 30. But let’s get down to the brass tacks of things. The wedding is one day. Marriage lasts for as long as you put into it, which you damn well should be ready to fight for after the investment of an expensive white dress that is virtually unwearable for any other occasion ever. Personally, I barely have the wherewithal to put up with myself; So, it comes as a shock to me that I ever decided to want to put up with anyone else. I originally thought all one needed to be happily wed were sex and sandwiches – I loathe admitting when I’m wrong. But we need to start to accept that it’s all not so cut and dry. With that said, I’ve also been in the presence of enough fabulous people who don’t need to walk down an aisle for a happily ever after. Marriage, above ALL, is a choice; and some people are just more suited to choose pot pie instead if it’ll make them happier.

Having the bed to yourself.

There isn’t one married person I have talked to that doesn’t relish the times when their S.O. is out of town and they get the entire bed to themselves to spread out, make sheet angels, and eat all sorts of random ass snacks in without judgment. Hell, I have sometimes started arbitrary fights SIMPLY to have the bed to myself for a night. Proper climate conditions while sleeping are hard to maintain when someone likes you enough to want to emit their body heat near you. To me, cuddling is vastly overrated and the ability to roll to the other side of the bed when the side you currently occupy is too warm is a luxury of singledom.

 Watching whatever the hell you want.

As someone who has spent the majority of her time in the past five years going through the Xfinity, Netflix, and Hulu movie archives sitting next to a sexy, sandy blonde man, I can say with ease that there is a simplistic joy to being able to watch whatever you god damn please. I easily feel a sense of accomplishment after binging episodes of Law and Order: SVU or Snapped all day, which Mr. Pentagon hasn’t the patience to sit through. Having to endure all three Iron Man movies was made tolerable by the charming and sexy Robert Downey Jr., not due to a love of Marvel comics. When my husband goes away on business, I have a date with documentaries, films with subtitles, and a box of Cheez Itz strapped to my hand with no intention to leave the bed for anything or anyone.

Avoiding people you don’t like is harder to do.

I’m fortunate enough that my in-laws are mostly East Coast liberals and lovers of sarcasm – hell, one of the first activities I participated in with my new cousins-in-law was protesting in a sea of pink pussy hats at the Washington D.C. Women’s March. But this isn’t the situation for everyone. People, in general, are awful. I’m very vocal about this and entertain the company with mostly those who share the same notion. So having to spend time with anyone you don’t want to waste your time on God’s green Earth with simply because they are related to or are friends with the person you committed your life to is bullshit. A wise V.P. once told me, “Time is precious; waste not one moment doing something you do not want to do with anyone you don’t want to do it with.” Wish I could put that on a Hallmark card for people to send their in-laws as an RSVP for the holidays.

Kids aren’t the end-all, be-all.

Children have been battling finances as the number one reason for divorce year after year. In fact, the two sometimes go hand-in-hand. Nothing says I want to be broke and exhausted like childbirth! I’ve been tooting the anti-kid horn for a while, but have come to realize how fulfilling it is for some and I think that’s beautiful. I’ve also been in Target enough to watch small kids behave as ingrates, putting me off the concept and wanting to shake the shit out of their parents. Parenting isn’t just a full-time job, it’s one that comes without sufficient breaks or benefits (so, like most jobs in America) with the added bonus of having your nipples sucked raw (…still like most jobs in America?). Kudos to all that take it on. Especially since the mom-on-mom judgment arena is way too intense for me at this time. You ALL pushed watermelon sized things out of your vaginas – isn’t it okay that little Merlin eats organic mashed peas that you made while little Michael doesn’t give a shit?

Besides this, the other biggest crime in this area involves people pressuring couples to get pregnant, without a real concept of their financial situation, emotional stability, or general life plan. ‘No, Aunt Nina, we just made the decision to be with each other forever, we’re still working on having to do that for another human being AND wipe its ass.’ Some people are just happy being with one another and trying to keep plants alive, and they have every right to do that. Just like you have every right to maintain the hope of becoming ‘a cool mom and/or dad’.

Opposites do attract. And it’s annoying rewarding and challenging.

No couple shares every single damn thing in common. I’m also skeptical of the people quick to say they are marrying their ‘best friend’. I reserve that title only for people I allow to do sacred women things with me, such as getting a mani/pedi, going shopping to get cardio in, or gossiping without coming off as petty. You can’t borrow a tampon from a man in an emergency, so I personally deem this reason enough that no man can be a straight woman’s best friend.

“We’re so alike, it’s insane!” Bullshit. If my husband were exactly like me, I’d murder him. No one wants to marry themselves, which means there must be some opposing views and interests in every relationship that cause friction. It’s called the ‘art of compromise’, and not everyone is gifted with a paintbrush. Couples don’t always see eye-to-eye; I sometimes see eye to me punching someone in the face. But what I’m trying to instill here is that no matter how like-minded you and your partner are, you are still different and need some semblance of independence, and you still need your lady friends and shouldn’t abandon them upon getting married – and vice versa. You’ve already decided to spend the rest of your years with a spouse, you can afford some days off to be with girlfriends. It’s healthy and not to mention, necessary.

Separate bathrooms are a key to a happy marriage.

This is 105% absolutely true. ‘His and Her’ sinks are out, completely separating the porcelain situations are in. Not much more explanation needed.

 Love is not all you need, but it helps.

The Beatles once said, “Love is all you need.” It is scientifically true that human beings must have love in order to survive. But, one also needs money and H2O to make it in this world as well. Soulmates aren’t a thing. In fact, the contractual obligation is ‘until death us do part’. Which means, when you kick the bucket, you’re a free agent! Your soul can go smash with whomever it sees fit. I hope mine goes to find Gregory Peck, but that’s neither here nor there.

Everyone is looking for Prince Charming – be your own damn Prince Charming! Save yourself first, then open yourself to love. Because unlike babies and puppies, love in relationships isn’t always unconditional. The answer to why you should be together with someone shouldn’t just be ‘because I love you’. Love is the fruit of a relationship, but financial, mental, and emotional stability are the meat. These elements can’t always be perfect, but you better be with someone that can handle the pitfalls in any of those categories because love isn’t going to pay the bills or make you breakfast burritos. Just remember loving yourself is the best version of love and if you find someone else to share that love with, it’s the frosting on top of a delicious life cake.

Now, you may think I’m anti-marriage or a hypocritical married person, but that simply isn’t true. I find dating exhausting and I relish having a regular and consistent sex source. I also found someone willing to put up with me even though I’m…well, me. Even as I type this, Mr. Pentagon is babbling about something to do with the Army and I am whole-heartedly not paying attention because I stick to a strict rule of not accomplishing anything significant before 9am. With a year of marriage under my shoe, I don’t feel much wiser than the 365 days ago when my mother jammed a veil in my hair and I pledged myself to another human. We’re still writing and rewriting the rules. But, with an open heart and lots of wine, life can be fulfilled with a wedding band on my left hand and a box of donuts in my right to share with Mr. Pentagon.

And should it not work out? It’ll be okay. I JUST said I had wine and donuts.

Catherine is a native Detroiter currently residing in Washington D.C. She has seven years of experience in digital marketing strategy and communications. She enjoys the occasional Pop Tart and shamelessly eats breakfast burritos on weekday mornings. Catherine is certified in Google AdWords, SEO, content marketing, social media, and sarcasm. Catherine is also partial to dresses and skirts over pants and has been mistaken for many daytime cable show actresses.

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