Society has a funny way of making its demands known to people, that at times, it seems challenging to make decisions on our own. One demand, in particular, is that we need to be married. It isn’t often that I meet people who say that they wish to find a good job, buy a home, and stay single. It always seems to be the opposite. They want to find a good job and buy a home and get married. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be in a relationship or to get married? And then I got to thinking, it’s the old world view that getting married means that we won’t ever be alone. That thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, we find ourselves in our older years alone.
Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, even fifty years ago, the idea was to get married so that when you grow old you wouldn’t have to worry about who would take care of you. But also, there was the belief that if you were married, you would live longer. That philosophy has changed dramatically. There was a time when marriage was seen as the first non-biological factor that was used to identify with a long life. The thinking was that married people took fewer risks with their health and had better mental and emotional health. It was also believed that marriage provided more social and material support, meaning that there would be someone there to take you to the doctor or care for you when you got sick. However, when looking at the difference between married people and single people, especially with regards to health, that belief has narrowed. The reason is that the definition of marriage is changing, and there are many more options for care.
The truth is that having that piece of paper that tells two people that they are married is going to improve their health. Fifty years ago, being married did improve life, but not anymore. Nowadays, you can be single and never married, but have good friends or be in a relationship to reap the benefits of living longer without having a marriage certificate. What is being learned is that being single can be healthy. Single people, especially men, are living longer than ever before. In years prior, men, who never married had a lower life expectancy, but that is changing. Instead, single men are living just as long as men who are or have been married. The belief is that there are more support systems out there and health resources that are taking the place of having to have a life partner. In other words, over forty years ago, married men had the advantage over single men because there was someone there to take them to the doctor and they took care of themselves. Now, men and women are taking more responsibility for their health and wellness, and they are taking action to take better care of themselves. In actuality, being married may cause a decrease in living longer because of the effects of becoming a widow or widower.
Losing a partner, the one person that you have lived with perhaps your entire life can be devastating to the person who is grieving. As a result, people who become a widow or widower develop worse health than those who are married or single. It’s an issue that is becoming worse and now living without their partner lessens the years of their lives. I believe that this is because, at one time in life, we lived in a community of neighbors and extended family. That is rarely the case anymore, and because of it, the widow and widower are more likely to be isolated and alone.
Regardless of whether you are single, married, a widow, or widower is to be able to improve our lives on our own, outside of a relationship. It’s more than okay to be single and not have to worry about who will be there to take care of me. With so many resources out there, and choices to take care of ourselves, it shows that we don’t have to live with so much pressure to live up to society’s standards to be married. To me, that’s the true serendipity, and what is meant to be in life.