If You Have Ever Contemplated Marriage, This Site is for You

The main purpose of the site is to be a voice for those of us who are actually living the life of being happily never married (or single). (There are multitudes of individuals who have taken it upon themselves to speak for us.) If you have every contemplated marriage, this site is for you.  Whether you are single, widowed, divorced, [un]happily married or happily married, you will find essays on this blog that resonate with your experiences.  At the very least, you will find essays that are reminiscent of discussions you have had with friends and associates regarding relationships. Although the essays are generally geared toward women, both men and women alike will identify with some aspect of many of the essays. In addition, people of all ages will find some common ground on this blog site. And for the record, I continue to aspire to one day join the “authentically” happily married group.

Please explore the blog, contribute to the discussions, and share the blog with your family, friends, and associates.  I also invite you to follow me on Twitter, “HappyNevMarried” (note the subtle difference in name), and I encourage you to consider hosting a “Happily Never Married Blog Club” (book club style).  Enjoy!

Current Posts

  • Post this Week: April 25, 2014 – Summer Holidays and Family Reunions are Upon Us (Inspired by Derrick Davis)
  • A Woman’s Best Accessory? … (Inspired by Cynn)
  • Companionship: The Markings of a “Couple”?  (Inspired by Pamela Cheryl Higgins Harris)
  • Self-Maintenance Versus High-Maintenance (Eldridge “Roddy” Allen and Solomon “Irwin” Royster provided title and concept)
  • Online Dating:  # Patience and Pragmatism
  • Cutting Bait in 2014
  • Sacrifice Versus Duty: A Woman’s Burden (Topic inspired by a comment from Cassandra)
  • Her Children Would Have Hated Her . . . Said Oprah Winfrey
  • Setting the Record Straight: The Right to “Choose”
  • The “Too Picky” Fallacy
  • Holiday Companionship: A True Test (Topic Suggested by K. Woods)
  • 50+ yr Old Never Married Females:  Why We are So Happy
  • “You’re Still You” – Surviving the Pain of a Break-Up
  • The “Un”Engaged: A Secret Society
  • Upcoming Topics

 

Summer Holidays and Family Reunions are Upon Us (Topic Suggested by Derrick Davis)

In the afterglow of the Easter season and on the dawn of the onset of summer family gatherings, I am reminded of the fact that some single people (particularly women) have an ongoing dilemma with regard to these occasions.  Holidays can heighten a variety of emotions for a variety of people for a variety of reasons.  Certainly, the feeling of loneliness can be exaggerated at holiday time.  As summer approaches and the family reunion season gears up, these raw emotions will surface in some people.

During the holidays (or family reunions), individuals who desire to be in a relationship but are not in one, can be particularly sensitive.  Our world is filled with “couples.”  These individuals often have an outward appearance of being happy and content in their relationships.  Even if these couples are not happy, they are at least assumed to have some level of companionship, which for some single individuals, can bring on a sense of loneliness.

In addition, women often experience increased pressure during holidays or family gatherings from certain family members.  Family fellowships, subscribed by married family members and their children, often spawn conversations regarding the marital status of the single females in the family.  These single females can face a tribunal that fires questions at them regarding their desire to be married, their ability to attract a man who is interested in them, and their desire to have children.  Even if this layer of pressure (sometimes self-imposed) is absent, a single woman might still at least feel lonely.

The potential for feeling lonely during these times or facing an inquisition by family members can be some of the undesired characteristics of an impending holiday or a family reunion.  I recall that years ago I was anticipating an upcoming Valentine’s Day during one of those times when I did not have a significant other.  Although my preference would have been to have a “date” for Cupid’s Day, I had grown accustomed to surviving the day alone.  That particular year, a group of my girlfriends had the idea that we would all get together at one of their homes and cook dinner for ourselves.  This “arrangement” was far less than what I had in mind for the way I wanted to spend Valentine’s Day, but I thought that the proposed evening’s activities “beat a blank,” so I went along with the plan, albeit begrudgingly.

I must say that even to this day, that “girls’ night” out for Valentine’s Day” was an occasion that still resonates with me as being one that was quite favorably memorable.   I learned a number of lessons that night.  First, although having a date was my preference for the evening, being surrounded by good company in general was quite pleasurable.   Secondly, I realized being around people who reinforce and celebrate my strengths and my character is always a good thing, no matter the occasion.  Furthermore, I have come to realize that not all the “so called” happy unions we think we see are authentic in their bliss.  Some of these unions are contrived, just for appearances, especially around special occasions (the subject of an upcoming essay).

Although I would not want to spend all Valentine’s Days doing a “girls night” activity, and not having a date, the occasion on which I did just that, was a great lesson for me.  As we face the summer holidays and family gatherings, I urge women to take a page from the lessons from my Valentine’s Day experience.  First take inventory of the numerous ways you are a solid citizen and the tremendous potential you have for adding value to someone else’s life or simply being enjoyable company at an outing.  Go to those reunions and spend some quality time with older family members and/or peer family members (who do not judge), or children with whom you enjoy connecting.  (Children, adolescents, and some of the young adults in particular should have a limited, if not non-existent sense of “judgment” of your marital status.  Besides, they “need” you as a role model for demonstrating the many options they have for the ways in which they can live their lives in a fulfilling manner.) During special occasions, there will be individuals who “want” to enjoy your company, irrespective of your marital status. In sharing time with them, I challenge you to experience an “unanticipated” great time.

A Woman’s BEST Accessory? … (Inspired by Cynn)

One of this blog’s friends some time ago commented on the “Too Picky…” post.  One of the things she wrote was that when she bought her second house, a single family home (moving from her previously purchased townhome), one of her girlfriend’s husbands said that, “She must not want a husband.”

The sentiment behind that comment is indeed a sad testimony.  The sad testimony is that when a single woman does something that should be cause for celebration (e.g. purchasing a home), she is often viewed quite negatively by some.  This brought to mind the fact that some of the actions we make as women are often interpreted as our defiance of traditional male-female roles in relationships.

What is even more frustrating about the fact that some view a single woman’s house purchase as “negative,” is that conversely, many men complain that they do not want to be pestered with “gold diggers.”  So, let me see. ..  if I buy a house, I don’t “need,” “want,” or “desire” a man or husband.  If I ask a man how big his house is, I’m a gold digger.

This contradiction reminds me of a statement made by a female hosting a Saturday afternoon television movie feature.  She stated that, “A woman’s best accessory is a man on her arm.”  Although I interpreted that her statement was meant to be “tongue-in-cheek,” the aforementioned scenario says, maybe not.

It occurred to me upon hearing the television personality’s declaration, that if part of my desire was to someday be married, I had gone about my life completely wrong.  This “wrong” path started with my perception that my accomplishments and “would-be” symbols of building wealth would be viewed favorably by a potential male suitor.  I had always assumed that the better I prepared myself for thriving in this world (i.e. developing good character, pursuing higher education, developing and managing a career, building wealth), the more attractive I would be to a male.  It turns out that although some men appreciate my efforts, those efforts are a turn-off for other men.

As opposed to my assets working for me, they can work against me.  I had hoped that my accomplishments would demonstrate a desire to “pull my weight” when entering a union with a man.  I operated under the belief that, “the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.”  In other words, the better the strengths are for a man and a woman, independent of each other, the greater their combined strength.  The fact that my assumption is erroneous on some levels, to me, is a sad testimony.  Sadly, it appears that my premise of being fully capable of “pulling my weight” in a relationship, and bringing valuable resources to the relationship, is a premise that is diametrically opposed to many men’s philosophies and views regarding what is desirable in a woman.

It would appear that my positioning, relative to a man, is what’s most desirable for many men.  It starts with having “a man on my arm,” which shows that some “man” desires me, so therefore, other men’s interest in me is heightened.  Ironically, I recall that some married women and some pregnant women have expressed that same sentiment.  That is that married women and pregnant women are inherently displaying that some man somewhere found them desirable, and so therefore, [some] other men are drawn to them (and I do not mean platonically).  If that game is going on, it is no wonder that the state of marriage in America is in such disarray.

Companionship : The Markings of a “Couple” (?) – (Inspired by Pamela Cheryl Higgins Harris)

My likes and desires regarding a mate in some ways can present a bit of a paradox.  On the one hand, I live a very full and dynamic life (combining career, service, family, and social activities).  On the other hand, I thrive on consistent and authentic companionship or togetherness.   I am attracted to men who live similarly dynamic lives.  Unfortunately, two people who have very “full” lives do not necessarily have exceptional amounts of time to spend with each other. Clearly, some strategy and negotiation need to take place between two people who have dynamic lifestyles, in order for a relationship between the two, to peacefully (and more importantly, lovingly) co-exist.  That requires some honest and realistic consideration. In my case, because I am attracted to dynamic individuals, I have to understand that they, more often than not, will have activities that will not include me, thus impeding on our time together. The same holds true for my activities potentially infringing on a relationship. Therefore, we have to work together to ensure that we are spending a mutually acceptable amount of time together that is healthy for the relationship.  However, we both also need to be willing to make reasonable sacrifices with respect to our “outside” activities in order to honor the priority of our union.  Hence, if I am involved with someone who has a life that requires him to be heavily engaged in activities that don’t involve me, I need to be a priority for his “free” time, and of course I owe him the same courtesy.

I often think about the fact that if I am supposedly in a “relationship” with someone, but we spend minimal time together, what is the benefit of being in that relationship?  Additionally, if he does not engage in activities with me that I deem really fun (or he is unwilling to make a “sacrifice” on occasion to do so), again I ask, what is the benefit of the relationship?  In my view, in those instances, the relationship arguably lacks “togetherness,” which for me, is an essential aspect of a union.

Therein lies the rub.  When two people are leading “separate” lives and essentially are just “sharing living quarters,” this for me is not togetherness because they are not sharing their “time” with each other.   In actuality, in this example their individual “free” time is spent doing the things apart that do not necessarily incorporate their mate.  Examples include hanging out with the fellas (or girls), or even being home, but being anti-social, not interacting with their mate.

When I think about my experiences as well as the ways in which I have lived vicariously through others, I recognized that the concept of “togetherness” in a relationship has been a source of contention.  “Togetherness” on the one hand seems intuitive and straight-forward.  However, when its existence (or lack thereof) is dissected in a relationship, it is not uncommon to find that rather than being straightforward, it has a multitude of meanings, and invariably is different for everyone or at least changes over the course of people’s relationships.

I submit that when we think about the “glue” of relationships, the question of how a couple spends time with one another becomes a sticking point.  “Togetherness” has multiple dimensions that are exhibited through a variety of questions including;  How much time does a couple spend together?  What are they doing when they spend that time together? What is an acceptable formula for the amount of time one spends outside of the couple or the amount of time one spends alone, when they are in a relationship?  How does the enjoyment felt when time is spent with people outside of the marriage, compare to the enjoyment felt with time spent with one’s mate?  Does the relationship appear obvious to everyone around? (Are the nonverbals of a relationship [touching, hugging, kissing, admiring glances] readily apparent?)  What is a reasonable level of negotiation on these issues?  Of course every couple has the right to define these issues in a way that is mutually agreeable to them.  Although their formula might not work for all other couples, it must work for the two people who have a relationship.

It occurred to me that this issue was a consideration for me when I was in my early twenties.  I recall attending a party with some girlfriends when we noticed the arrival of a “couple.”  At our age, seeing couples  at a “party” was a bit of an anomaly.  The thing that struck my girlfriends and me about this couple, and thus, the basis for my remembering the scenario, was the fact that the “guy” was deliberate in introducing his date to a number of friends at the party.  It was noticeably apparent that the guy was the one in the couple who was familiar with the attendees at the party.  However, it was also obvious that he was on a “date” and he was proud to be with her. The striking and memorable part was the fact that shortly after their arrival, he took the time to escort her around the room and introduce her to his friends.  Again, at twenty-something, this behavior was not typical of my male contemporaries.  At that age, people in  general attended parties stag.  And, if they did bring dates, you could not tell by the body language of the couple.

Although this could be interpreted as benign or a non-issue, I believe the symbolism is quite poignant.  Many couples seem to exist as independent people who share a space, as opposed to united people who have come together to share a life.  These separate lives are exhibited through the fact that they either do not spend a lot of time together, or when they do spend time together, their interaction is limited, of low quality, or does not read, “couple.”

Self-Maintenance Versus High-Maintenance (Eldridge “Roddy” Allen and Solomon “Irwin” Royster provided title and concept)

A lot can be said regarding the topic of being female, over 50, never married,AND  happy!  There are two questions that have often been asked of me since starting this blog.  One is, “How on earth can I be happy?”  The other is, “What kind of standard do I have for the man I seek?”  These questions allude to common myths in our society.  One obvious myth is that a woman cannot possibly be fulfilled unless she has “Mrs” in front of her name.  Another myth is that if she is not married by the time she is fifty but is living a very satisfying life, she must be “high-maintenance.”  The fact is that many of us are the exact opposite of high-maintenance.  We are self-maintained.

What does this mean?  A woman who has reached 50, who has never been married, and is happy, has most likely filled her life with activities that make her content, and activities that have allowed her to fully develop who she is.  For me, the first half century of my life was filled with spending quality time with friends and family, pursuing higher education (all the way through to the doctoral degree) and having two different but related careers.  The first career was in marketing and sales in a major corporation.  The second career is as a marketing professor.  In addition, I have traveled fairly extensively throughout the US and have done some traveling abroad. I have also vacationed on one of the largest cruise ships in the world.  As for other “fun,” I thoroughly enjoy the “usual” activities, attending concerts and plays, going to the movies, going to live sporting events, and visiting amusement parks.  Because I thoroughly enjoy dancing, I have spent a couple of years taking line dance classes.

In my life’s activities, I have invested in me.  I have explored life’s offerings on my own terms, satisfying my appetite for developing myself while also responding to the curiosity I have had about the world around me .  Hence, I have not looked to someone else to make me happy. The ironic truth of the matter is that arguably, many of the women who have not done a lot for themselves are the ones who can be high maintenance because they need someone else to provide “things” that will make them happy.

Rest assured, my being self-maintained is not to be confused with not wanting or needing a mate. Our society has confused the ability to provide, with the ability to be an optimal mate.  If “provision” were the key criterion for my choice in selecting a mate, I would have surrendered myself to the highest bidder a long time ago.  I dare say a union based largely on material gain, is a troubled union that quite possibly suffers an untimely demise.

The difference between many who have gotten married and me, is that I have always been honest with myself regarding whether a particular romantic interest is truly an optimal lifetime fit.  That involves evaluating characteristics that go far beyond just being able to provide.  Spirituality, integrity, a spirit of generosity, and good old common sense top the list of qualities that are important to me.  Monetary status in any one’s life can change at any time.  Above all, timing and destiny are key factors as well.  Not all good people are necessarily good for each other.

To the ill-informed, I might appear to be “high-maintenance.”  Truth be told, I am self-maintained.  I want a man in my life to “partner” with me, recognizing that I am a person who is constantly striving to be a better me.  I do not need a man for the purpose of taking care of me or completing me.  Hence, the man of my dreams can continue to live his life in a way that is fulfilling to him, while we each benefit from our unwavering support of each other’s goals.  He will not be required to continually respond to my infinite need for “something,” which would be the case if I were high-maintenance.

Online Dating: Patience and Pragmatism

Good Morning America (the ABC network’s morning news show) reported that the first couple of weeks after Christmas are a peak time for activity on internet dating sites.  Hence, I thought this would be a good time to pen some thoughts regarding the subject.

I have experienced internet dating.  That is not because I have had a problem “meeting” men in general.  The issue for me is finding that “special” person.  That said, contrary to some stereotypes, an internet dating site is not a place inhabited exclusively by the misfits and near-do-wells of society.  As a matter of fact, I have come across the profiles of a few men I have known throughout the years from a variety of other affiliations, and trust me, these particular men are the polar opposite of misfit.  As a matter of fact, they are of good character, “exceptionally” well accomplished, and “easy on the eyes.”  In addition, a number of the new men that I have met because of these sites have been fantastic individuals.  However, there are some things to be considered when using these sites.

Although these sites help make our dating activities more efficient, patience is key.  My unscientific calculation is that I read in excess of 50-100 profiles on an online site before identifying 5 men with whom I wish to exchange phone numbers.  Out of those 5 men, I will perhaps meet one of them, face-to-face.  This is still far more efficient than the time and energy that is needed to meet a critical mass of men and then determine which ones are compatible enough to accompany on a date.  It would generally take several events to meet a few men that would be potential compatible suitors.  The time I have spent going through profiles on a dating site pales in comparison to the time and resources (hair, make-up, clothes, shoes, gas, cost of the event) it takes to prepare to go to numerous events, travel to and from those events, and spend time at those events.

Pragmatism and thick skin are also key when being on a dating site.  Not unlike interactions that take place during the course of our lives, there are going to be countless individuals on a website with whom you are attracted, but the feeling is not mutual. A dating site is not a “Genie in a Bottle.”  The prom queen might be on the site but she doesn’t go to the site with a heat seeking missile to unearth the guy voted, “Most likely to be a lifetime introvert.”

Most importantly, your “gut, intuition, and instincts” are to be keenly respected.  You can generally discern key clues regarding someone’s character through a combination of reading their profiles, looking at the pictures they have chosen to post, communicating with them in writing via the site, and listening to them on the phone.  If your gut gives you warning signs about someone at any point, you should absolutely listen to that intuition.  If you don’t feel there has been enough information provided in a profile for you to make a reasonably informed decision about an individual, that is a problem within itself.

During the initial phases of becoming acquainted with someone, you should treat them as a stranger, because, guess what?  They are! Irrespective of what they say or how comfortable you may feel, NEVER invite them to your house for an initial date and NEVER go to their home for an initial date.  Always have an initial face-to-face meeting in a neutral, public place, that is well lit and well patronized.  A location in a popular mall is a great place.  And always phone a relative or friend (preferably someone in close geographic proximity to the dating site) to tell them you are having a first date with someone you met online.  Give that relative or friend the name and phone number of the person you are meeting.  Also, have a specific time when you are expecting to be with your date for that relative or friend to phone you.  Receiving a well-timed phone call during the date signals to your date that someone cares about you and that if something is wrong, the person who cares about you knows it rather quickly and will swing into action immediately to determine if there is a problem.

I would characterize dating sites as the cyber versions of our dating experiences offline On occasion, we click with someone we meet.  However, we are not guaranteed to find the “one” in three quick key strokes.

Cutting Bait in 2014

A new year brings with it the promise of a life ahead that perhaps eclipses the year or years behind us.  We are often beaming with the possibilities of the ways in which life might just be a little more kind to us and that some of the discontent of the past can be washed away in that new year.  Romance often tops the wish list for what we want in the brand new year. However, we often want the benefit of the new possibilities while holding on to the ways [and people] of the past who have not served us well.  This reminds me of a fishing trip.

I have been fishing a couple of times in my life, and ironically, both times have been deep sea fishing.  If I recall correctly, at the time, this type of fishing required me to be anchored to a seat in the back of a boat by way of a special jacket.  The fishing rod I used was also “holstered” into that seat in the back of the boat.  I remember that on one of the fishing trips, I had caught a strong fish that was “running” and taking my line with it.  I, with the help of crew members on the boat “struggled” with that fish for a solid 20 minutes.  I am happy to report that we ultimately won, and finally reeled the fish to the side of the boat. One of the crew members had to club the fish a couple of times before it could be hauled into the boat.  Had we needed to fight much longer, we would have “cut the bait/line.”

Many men and women are “struggling” with a mate who is functioning just like my fish, running away from the boat, and taking my line (a tool I need to catch fish) along with them.  The fish was justified in trying to get as far away from the boat as he could.  Unfortunately individuals in some relationships exhibit behavior that is similar to that fish running.  Oftentimes their mate can manage to wrangle them back to the boat (relationship), but then the person who was running has to be “clubbed” (psychologically) to get them to cooperate in the relationship.

When we “hang around” in relationships with people with whom we are constantly finding reasons to complain and with whom we are consistently unhappy, and they are “running away from the boat,” it is time to make a real break.  It is time to “cut bait.”  (The exception would be when counseling helps.)  If you are spending, weeks, months, and sometimes years, complaining about the same person regarding the same behavior you despise, you are co-signing on your own misery.

Some men believe that moaning and groaning are simply a part of a woman’s DNA. Hence, if she is consistently griping, what he hears is very much akin to the adult dialogue in Charlie Brown’s episodes (i.e. wah, wah, …).  And truthfully, if a person is complaining about the same thing over and over, and not ending the relationship, their mate has no motivation to actually process the complaint and negotiate a solution.

We all must learn to make a clean “break” from a relationship that is not working well for us, hence moving on with our lives.  Staying in a bad relationship can signal that the relationship is not as bad as the complaining person makes it out to be.  Sometimes the egregious party does not “get it” until the relationship is truly terminated.

Sacrifice Versus Duty: A Woman’s Burden (Topic inspired by a comment from Cassandra)

One of my earlier essays in this blog states that never married females, age fifty and over, are the second happiest marital status group in our society.  A blog reader, “Cassandra,” responded to that post by commenting that single women and married men are the happiest among us.

This latter fact evoked my thoughts regarding what seems to be the “sacrifice[s]” that women are often expected to make in a marriage.  There is certainly the adage that men fear marriage because they do not want to “sacrifice” their freedom.  However, one of the outcomes of many marriages appears to be that somehow, women often draw the “short straw” in the overall scheme of making sacrifices in a marriage.  To that end, census data confirm that men are more likely than women to remarry.

From 1950-1989, the rate of “remarriage” overall declined.  However, without exception, a greater percentage of men remarried than women.1   A relatively recent article describing some women’s sentiment on this issue stated the following, “It’s fun being a girlfriend.  A wife? Not so much. Cooking, housework, juggling multiple schedules is exhausting — and many women feel they were doing it as a solo act giving 90 percent to someone else’s 10 percent.”2

It seems that very often, women are the ones who are expected to subordinate their goals, wants, and desires for the sake of their husbands and their families.  Although healthy marriages are characterized by ongoing mutual sacrifices and continuous negotiations, in countless marriages, women are making exceptional sacrifices.  For example, women often put their education and careers on hold.  Women are generally the “trailing spouses” deferring to their husbands’ career advancements.  And women are the ones who more often experience “skill set atrophy“ because the education and talent they possessed going into a marriage, aren’t always leveraged to their fullest ability within the marital structure.  Hence post-divorce, these women must find a way to re-tool, in order to re-enter the workforce.  Seldom, if at all, do you hear of men who have had to re-assess their skills or get retrained as a result of divorce, in order to become employable.

These issues brought to mind an experience I had many years ago as a “newly minted MBA” fresh out of a top ten Business School program.  I became acquainted with a would-be suitor who asked the proverbial question, “What do you do [for a living]?”  I proudly described my Fortune 500 corporate position in sales and marketing, to which he replied, “When I start my business, you can be my secretary.” I must sadly add, he was not joking.

Let me be very clear that I recognize that society overall has come a long way in just the past 20 years with respect to respecting a woman’s talents, and that the  level of ignorance described in my experience, fortunately does not apply to most men.   I also recognize that the issue of divorce is a complicated one that cannot be reduced to a single factor.  However, the ongoing vestiges of some of the archaic ways in which women have had to “sacrifice” to keep their marriages in tact, I believe, are part of the reasons why many women who make the exodus from a marriage, are not interested in repeating those nuptial vows again.

KUDOS to those men who have recognized the holistic value in their wives, and have worked to make their marriages as reasonably equitable as possible for their families as a whole.  And bravo for those women who have created a formula that optimizes both the professional and personal aspects of their talent.  Both roles take hard work and concerted effort.

                                                             

1Kreider, Rose M., “Remarriage in the US,” (2006), Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal, Canada

2Brooke, Jill, “Marry Again? Nine Reasons Divorced Women Choose Not To,” (2012), More.com, web, retrieved 12/10/13

 

 

Her Children Would Have Hated Her … Said Oprah Winfrey

Approaching her 60th birthday, Oprah Winfrey recently said that had she had children, they would most likely have hated her.  She made this statement based on the fact that she has led a professional life that has been exceptionally dynamic and demanding. She believes that the focus and attention that has been required for her to achieve the type of success she has achieved, has meant that some things have had to suffer.  With respect to her thoughts on having children, she stated, “They would have ended up on the equivalent of the “Oprah” show talking about me; because something [in my life] would have had to suffer and it would’ve probably been them.”1   Note:  I draw a distinction between living the kind of life Oprah has had, versus having a professional life that has a fraction of the demands on Oprah’s life.

Oprah’s sentiment spurred thoughts I have had across the years regarding having children.  Like the desire I have always had to be married, I have always had the desire to have children.  The ways in which I have contemplated having children have followed a similar pattern of critical thinking that I have applied to the idea of getting married.

Years ago, a professional working married female made a comment that would become a lightning rod for my thoughts on the subject of having children.  This female had two minor children (a girl and a boy) at the time. The two children were contemplating their extra-curricular activities (outside of school).  Her directive to them was that they had to choose one activity that they could both share.  This was a requirement based on the fact that she did not have time to chauffer them to two different activities. Note: She was in a middle class family.  This was not a case of two parents working two jobs to make ends meet.

My immediate thought at the time was that the requirement to “share” an activity was woefully inequitable to her children. I think of the countless individuals who have risen to extraordinary heights with their skills, based on development of those skills in their youth (e.g. Michael Jordan, Beyonce, Michael Phelps, Dakota Fanning, Ron Howard).  Furthermore, given that the woman had a boy and a girl, I thought that her requirement that they had to “share an activity” posed an even greater complication.  What if each child liked activities that were stereotypically gender based (e.g. football versus ballet)? Honestly, my thought was, if she did not have the time to support her children in this basic way (shuttling the children to one extra-curricular activity a piece), was having more than one child a wise choice?

These sentiments also raise for me the ongoing issue of the degree to which all too often, the person largely responsible for the welfare of the children in an “intact” marriage, is the wife. The female in my example was married, and still with her husband. It seems to be the case that irrespective of how intense a woman’s professional life is, she is assigned the lion’s share of responsibility for the children.  All too often, whether a woman is a stay-at-home mom, or the Chief Financial Officer of a major company, she has chief responsibility for the “second shift” (post work, domestic and childcare duties).  I salute those working moms who work tirelessly to make life reasonable for all their loved ones (and hopefully themselves as well).

 

1 Rothman, Michael, “Oprah Winfrey Reveals Why She Never Had Children,” (2013), ABC News Blogs, Web, December 12, 2013, Retrieved 12/12/13