Single and Childless
The other night as I lay me down to sleep and was scrollin’ Facebook I came across a rather intriguing article. entitled, “Unmarried, Childless Women are Happier, Expert Says”
Who’s the “expert”? Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics.
He suggests: “If you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”
As a 33 year old single, childless woman…my initial thought was “Ummm….excuse me?!” But because I’m a nerd that enjoys research, I tapped on the article and felt boiling blood rush to flush my face as my heart nearly burst in anger.
I couldn’t let it go, I took screen shots and posted to my Instagram with a word of encouragement to my fellow single sisters!
When I woke up, I still couldn’t shake it. This is something worthy of conversation. And according to the Merriam-Webster definition of “expert” I most definitely fit the qualifications (knowledge derived from experience/one with special knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject). I’d say my 33 years of experience being single and childless in addition to the hundreds of other single/childless women I’ve known/know, I have some things I’d like to say in response to this ridiculousness.
1. Definition of Success and Happiness
Hey, I get it…it’s hard to draw hard lined definitions of success and happiness. It’s subjective and truly relative to one’s personal desires. Some people find deep satisfaction being successful by the world’s standards. In the allure of hyper feminism we see the rise of gender polarizing movements such as #GirlBoss and #TheFutureIsFemale (which, according to this Washington Post Article, “Hillary Clinton just said it, but ‘the future is female’ began as a 1970s lesbian separatist slogan” . Empowerment is one thing, but let’s not deny these movements paint a really ugly picture that to be a woman we must be controlling, dominant, disrespectful, independent, rebellious to all patriarchal origins and ideologies and that it’s permissible to be dishonorable to men. As a Christian, I’m not sold on the idea of “independence.” God created us to be interdependent. You’ll never catch me saying “I don’t need a man.” My “empowerment” doesn’t come from picketing, marching, flaunting my body, exercising sexual freedom, or man-bashing.
I hold no judgment for my sisters that are driven by their passions to pursue a rewarding career. Do you, Boo. But fancy titles, extravagant items, big bank accounts and fancy cars don’t make you superior of a woman.
To the many stay-at-home/home-schooling moms out there, I’ve looked in your eyes, I’ve watched as you swallowed the knot in your throat as you express the pressure of feeling like you’re not enough, that you’re “less than”, and that you feel the pressure of the world telling you that it would be better for you to alleviate the financial “burden” off your husband and get to work. I’ve watched you sacrifice emotionally, physically, and financially because you hold a high value for being present, engaged and operate as a supportive role in the lives of your family members. And for the hard-working stay-at-home and homeschooling mamas out there…though there are times you are tired…you are bold, fierce, and full of SO much joy. I admire you! You are worthy of respect and honor.
2. Marriage Misery
Marriage is one of my absolute favorite subjects to study in scripture. I love that God instituted marriage as a covenant. I’ve never been one to fantasize about an elaborate wedding, but I have been preparing my whole life for covenant marriage. I recently spoke about this in the Q+A Session @ Ignite Youth on 5/26/19.
Many people don’t know this about me, but I have read like a zillion marriage books in my life because I believe it’s wise to educate myself and prepare for marriage. I wrote about this quite a bit in Premarital Education, Writing the Family Code, Evaluating Godly Standards for Love, and The Why and How of Adam & Eve. If we’re willing to invest time and money into learning and preparing for our career (which often changes), why wouldn’t we want to put effort into educating ourselves about the covenant of marriage?
It pains me that so many people curse the blessing of marriage. Especially from my Christian friends. Beyond my own personal feelings, I believe it hurts the heart of our Father. Marriage is a covenant. It’s not a contract or a business deal. The problem with divorce is often a result of a marriage that was never endorsed by God in the first place.
Single sisters, let’s trust God with our love story. Please, don’t buy into the lie that marriage is miserable or that in order to maintain your happiness you must divorce yourself of the desire to marry.
3. Living Longer
According to this Fox10 News article, “He (Dolan) said men showed more health benefits from getting married as they tended to take fewer risks. Conversely, women's health was mostly unaffected by marriage, “with middle-aged married women even being at higher risk of physical and mental conditions than their single counterparts,” according to The Guardian.“
Take it from me, a single woman and a representative to countless other single women I know:
I would rather die earlier with a genealogical legacy than live longer lonely.
This part of the article really fired me up:
“You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children – ‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner,” Dolan said.
What is wrong with you, Paul Dolan? Perhaps it’s a festering case of MGTOW ?
I’ve admittedly lived far too many years with heart sickness due to hope deferment. The chatterbox in my mind constantly feeds me with fears about being alone or settling for less than God’s best for me. I have to push back the fear of not trusting myself (based on past bad relationship experiences) and trusting God.
Single Sisters….don’t bow at the feet of fear, that spirit is NOT your Lord. The devil is a liar. You hold on to the hope that’s in your heart and you pray and prophesy your promise.
5. Census Reports
Okay so “Census data also showed that Americans are marrying later in life, and the number of people who have never married has been rising in recent decades.” according to the article.
Married friends, I know you mean well by stating this fact to us single gals with the intention to comfort us…but it’s dismissive and it’s not comforting at all. We want you to know it’s okay to not know what to say if you can’t relate. Just BE with us in our moments of emotional meltdowns when we come to you expressing the deep longing in our hearts to be married mamas.
Single Sisters: Not everyone understands. But I do. Let’s keep each other lifted up, encourage one another in our moments of doubt, pray for one another when we’re experiencing assaults against our hope like this article that tries to convince us to kiss our hope for a future with a family of our own goodbye. Let’s stand together, armored up and ready to slice through the lies of the enemy and any voice, “expert” or article that partners with hopelessness.
I mean it when I say, I’m ALWAYS just a message away!
Don’t hear what I’m NOT saying:
I’m NOT saying marriage doesn’t have moments of difficulties
I’m NOT saying having children is always easy
I’m NOT saying women are wrong, bad or less-than for pursing lucrative careers
I’m NOT saying there’s anything wrong with women who feel called to be single and don’t desire to have children.
I’m NOT saying women should be devalued, suppressed, dismissed, marginalized, discriminated against, overlooked, disrespected,
Let’s Continue the Convo in the Comments:
What is your reaction to this article?