Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Marriage: It's Only Going to Get Worse" by Jeanna Bryner: A Singletude Response

The title of this Singletude post links to a perfect comeback the next time a busybody accosts you at a party and asks why you're not married. Just grin and say: "Because I can irritate myself just fine, thanks." You certainly don't need a spouse to do it for you, but that's what this study from the University of Michigan suggests he or she will do.

Eight hundred participants ranging in age from 20 to over 60 were asked to rate how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the statements "my spouse/partner gets on my nerves" and "my spouse/partner makes too many demands on me." As the age of the respondents increased, they were more likely to rate their marital partners as irritating and demanding. However, the researchers found that the opposite was true of how children and friends were perceived; they were seen as less irritating and demanding over time.

The researchers theorized that the results were in part due to the cumulative effect of constant exposure to a spouse's quirks and bad habits. They also implied that married couples feel more comfortable airing their grievances with each other than with friends or children, adding to the miasma of tension. In addition, the study noted that people tend to be more selective about their friends as they age, "weeding out" bad apples, while relationships with children tend to improve as they reach maturity.

The bottom line, though, is that you have some ammo whenever your smug married friends wonder why you haven't joined them in connubial bliss. Just remember that although they may not let on when they invite you over, presenting the united front of his and hers monogrammed towels and heart-shaped picture frames, when the last guest leaves, they're irritating the heck out of each other.

Okay, so we all know there are plenty of positive aspects to marriage that weren't covered in this study. But what the study emphasizes is that romantic relationships aren't the gateway to happiness. The "singletude" philosophy has always been that a strong social network comprised of many different kinds of relationships is greater than the sum of its parts, that no single relationship, including marriage, holds the key to personal fulfillment. The University of Michigan study supports the value of non-romantic relationships and even compares them favorably to marriage.

Singles, take note: you now have scientific evidence to prove that your social life is just as glowing, if not more so, than that of your irritated, put-upon married friends. Read it, learn it, quote it. But just don't be irritating about it. :)

When you've been in relationships in the past, did you perceive your partner as becoming more irritating or demanding as time went on? How about your friends and kids if you have them? Have they seemed more irritating or demanding over time?

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