Women without husbands
By Tom Purcell
January 26, 2007
All right, ladies, the gig is up. It's time for all of us to get married, including you.
I refer to The New York Times' recent report. After sorting through U.S. Census data, The Times determined that for the first time in American history the majority of women, 51 percent, are living without a husband.
The story tore through the media like a lightning bolt. A slew of "I am woman, hear me roar" stories hit the airwaves. The storyline was clear: Women are finally free and independent now, and the last thing they need is some sloppy spouse who leaves his socks lying all over the house.
Well, nuts to that. Look, ladies, deciding not to marry for your own well-being is one thing, but it is we you're not marrying in the process. Your decision is killing single men — literally.
Single men partake in more risky behavior than married men. We eat badly, smoke more, and avoid doctors' offices. We die younger. And we're far more likely to wake up in a pile of crumpled newspapers still clutching the tequila bottle we began sipping from two days before.
The reason why is not complicated. We are social animals. Men and women are very different creatures, but we were made for each other. The Catholics call it complementarity — a man and woman, in union and harmony, round each other out.
Men need to be rounded out, too. Take dust. Because our brains take in less sensory detail than a woman's, we don't notice dust the way women do. Thus, married men tend to live in orderly, dust-free homes, whereas single men, says P.J. O'Rourke, clean up their place about once every girlfriend.
Though it's not like single women are faring much better.
The Times article quoted independent women raving about their freedom and flexibility. A 32-year-old woman had already lived with two boyfriends and said that if she ever did marry, she might opt to keep her own place. Another said she likes being able to sleep on either side of the bed.
Oh, just admit it, ladies. You need us, too. Sleeping next to a burping, snoring lug of a husband may not be the stuff dreams are made of, but it sure beats sleeping alone. And when you hear a prowler rattling the door knob in the middle of the night, whom do you send to investigate? Your cat?
I know The Times is eager for a more progressive society to take hold — one in which the stodgy traditional marriage is kicked to the wayside — but the fact is marriage, imperfect though it is, is good for us.
Married people are happier, says the Pew Research Center. They enjoy life more — they enjoy sex more, too. Children raised by married couples fare better. Society fares better. Successful civilizations are built on the stability that traditional marriage brings.
But despite these simple and obvious truths, we keep trying to reinvent our nature. We keep trying to prove there are better ways to fulfill our simple needs — keep trying to leave every option open, so that we can be "free" and "independent" forever.
And we end up alone.
I can't imagine what old folks homes will be like 40 years from now. There will be an unprecedented number of elderly single people living alone. No children or grandchildren will visit them — no spouse will care for them. I wonder if The Times will do a front-page piece on that trend, too.
All I know is that my life would certainly be better if I woke every morning in a full home in which my children are laughing and my wife is smiling, rather than the way I often wake now — with a throbbing noggin' because my single friends and I over-enjoyed our freedom and independence at the pub the night before.
As I said, it's time for all of us to get married.