Does Marriage Civilize Men?

The Atlantic magazine published claims that men become happier, healthier, and harder working after marrying. The men, it is said, thereby become more "civilized" when they marry. The claims do not hold up well when measured by scientific standards. So who's the barbarian now?

Reason, Season, or Lifetime, Plus Inspiration from Blogger Who Wants to Marry

Are you single for a reason, a season, or a lifetime? Also, in what may be a first, I recommend a blog post by a single person who wants to be married. 

If You Have a Community of Friends, Are You Still Single?

The word "single" can seem to suggest that you are alone, and of course, I don't like that at all. Empirically, it is just not true; most single people are not alone.

“Single at Heart” – Is It Quirkyalone’s Naughty Cousin?

Quirkyalones have especially high standards for coupling, they value friends and not just romantic partners, and they are not at all insecure with their single status. Ultimately, though, they want what everyone else believes they should want - The One, that perfect match, the love songs, the romantic miracle. 

Really? Marriage Reduces Depression?

What does the 2007 synthesis really show about the link between getting married and getting depressed? See for yourself. Also, a glimpse at the long list of topics I am planning to get to in this blog.

David Brooks + Sandra Bullock = Matrimania

See if you can recognize what David Brooks gets wrong in his column in today's New York Times. 

What’s Wrong with Black Marriage Day?

These initiatives are often targeted at poor people. But as scholars such as Kathryn Edin and her colleagues have shown, the poor already DO value marriage. They value it greatly and have high standards. They don't want to marry until or unless they find a partner who is already set economically. And they want a partner they can trust and confide in and depend on for the long term. Their concern is that marrying someone without a job and the money for, say, a small home and a car, is a divorce risk, and that's worse than not marrying at all. They are absolutely correct in their belief that getting married and then divorced is a greater financial burden than staying single. 

Upcoming Singles Talks

Two upcoming singles talks are open to the public - one is a solo talk with a book signing afterwards and another is part of a panel discussion. Be sure to say hi to me if you can make it to either one - I'd love to meet more Living Single readers in person. 

Are You Single at Heart?

To be single at heart, I think, means that you see yourself as single. Your life may or may not include the occasional romantic relationship, and you may or may not live alone or want to live alone, but you don't aspire to live as part of a couple (married or otherwise) for the long term.

Should the Spouse of Clarence Thomas Get to Form a Political Lobbying Group?

The question of whether the spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should get to start her own lobbying and political-organizing group is not a political one. It is much bigger than that. The basic principle at stake is whether getting married should limit your rights as a citizen in any way. I don't think it should. But here's the thing: It shouldn't automatically qualify you for any special benefits, either.

On Tax Breaks, Emotional Commitments, and the Myth of the Transformative Power of Marriage

Instead of generating reasons why getting married makes you lastingly happier (since it doesn't), let's see if we can figure out why, despite all the matrimania and the singlism, the vast majority of single people live happy and healthy lives filled with sustained emotional connections. (Yes, studies show that.) 

Single, No Children: Who's Your Family?

If you are single and have no children, who counts as family to you? That's the question I was asked to address in a chapter I will be writing. I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions. 

The Meaning of 'Relationship': Notes from a Party

If you have a friend, a sibling, a parent, a child, a cousin, a coworker, a neighbor, or just about any other person in your life, and you maintain a connection with that person, you have a relationship. You are in a relationship. 

What Would You Do?

Suppose you were at a meeting during which a speaker talked as if you and the others like you weren't even there, or didn't really count. How would you respond? 

A Sermon About "Singled Out" (Seriously)

In her sermon about "Singled Out," the Reverend Ann Schranz told her Unitarian Universalist congregation, "The changing nature of family is not something to be feared; rather, it is something to be affirmed and celebrated."

Read These in Blissful Freedom from Matrimania

Oscars and Razzies, move over. It's time for the Singles Book Awards. For this great suggestion, I owe my thanks to Laurie in Ithaca. She sent me this query:"Hi Bella, I would love to read some fiction, contemporary or otherwise, that gloriously depicts the life of someone who is enjoying themselves, fully engaged, life full of people, and not focused on getting married or saving a marriage. Perhaps it could even have the theme of how marriage can work to limit a life by closing down opportunities to really get to know many different people. How without the consideration of a deeply tied in partner someone might be freer to pursue a path than they otherwise might. Stuff like that."

Oscars and Razzies – Singles Category

It's awards season. No need to limit yourself to movies. Living Single readers offer Oscar and Razzie nominations for fitness clubs, gyms, restaurants, hotels, car insurance companies, grocery stores and supermarkets, employers, and neighborhood shops and businesses. Add yours. 

The Publication of “The Case for Marriage” Kicked Up an Ideological Storm

When a book called The Case for Marriage was first published a decade ago, there was much controversy because Harvard University Press rejected it. Conservatives said this was just another example of liberal media bias. I think the focus on liberal vs. conservative media bias and ideology obscured the more fundamental point: The book misrepresented the science. 

Avoid Stroke by Marrying? A Case Study in Misrepresentation of Marriage Findings

Two recent posts to the Psych Today blogs provide a case study in the perpetuation of myths about the implications of getting married. It's almost enough to make me have a stroke. 

What’s Wrong with the Claim that 90% of Married People Say They’d Marry Their Spouse Again?

A PT blogger recently seemed quite impressed with a CBS poll showing that 90% of currently married Americans said that they would marry their spouse again. He called those results "remarkable." He titled his post, "And they lived happily ever after." PT featured this question from him at the top of the blogger page: "Would you remarry your spouse?"So what's wrong with that? 

Even More Than Single Life, This Is About Authenticity and Choice

My most basic wish is that you can acknowledge to yourself how you would most like to lead your life, and then pursue that path that is most meaningful to you. Secondarily, if you are up for it, I hope you will admit to the life that works for you. The latter is more difficult, because too many people are stuck in mental ruts when it comes to thinking about the ways to live a full and meaningful life, and they will let their disapproval show. But if you can stand up for your life choices, especially when they are not the most conventional ones, then you will have stood up for everyone else who thought they were alone and could not say (for example) that they like their single life just fine. 

TNR Asks: Why Assume Marriage Is Better Than Single Life?

One step forward and two steps back. Forward: The New Republic asks, Why assume that marriage is better? Backwards Step 1: CNN describes single women as "stomp[ing] their feet in defiance." Backwards Step 2: Smartmarriages, referring to a book telling single women to "marry him", tells all their listserv members, "Buy [it] for all of the single ladies in your life." Because, of course, married people know best, and one of the things they are sure they know about singles is that we all want to be married. 

From More Magazine: Single and Loving It

More magazine calls itself the place "for women of style and substance" and "smart talk for smart women." Look at the cover of the most recent issue (March 2010) and you will find this boldfaced tease: "SINGLE AND LOVING IT: No ring, No regrets."  

Super Smart But Wrong About Singles

Nancy Folbre is a brilliant economist. But in a recent post to the New York Times blog, Economix, she said, "Women who don't marry or have kids earn about the same as men with the same qualifications. Going without a family life seems a rather steep price to pay for equality." Fortunately, three of the first ten readers to comment have already called her on it. 

Is It Okay to Have a Couples-Only Club?

A meet-up group is recruiting couples only. Proof of coupled status is required and the announcement explicitly says, "No singles, SWINGERS, or business solicitation." Is this okay? 

Want to Critique This Claim Published in the Atlantic Magazine?

A sociologist again makes the claim for what Katha Pollitt once called a "barbarian-adoption program." The deputy managing editor of the Atlantic magazine printed it as fact. Living Single readers: Explain to the sociologist and the editor what's wrong with their claim. I'll post the best critiques.

We Need Same-Sex Couples – in Figure Skating

The Olympic figure skating pairs shimmered with grace and talent, but I just couldn't help it: Every time I saw a man hoist his partner with one hand or toss her forward, I thought not of Mikhail Baryshnikov but of Fred Flintstone. 

Sharing the Quirky Love

Insightful, enlightened perspectives on single life are popping up all over the web. A new singles advocacy group seems to be in the works, too. So let's share our quirky love with all of them.

“Friendship in the Time of Love”

From Yasmin Nair, on friendship in a time of love: "I realise that I've learnt, after several past missteps and perhaps several future ones, to look for and nurture relationships with friends I care about and who care about me: coupled and uncoupled, married and unmarried, floating in between continents and couplings, leaving and arriving, writing and not writing, forgiving or not forgiving, or forgiving without a word, returning wordlessly, messy interlocking circles that move and shift and friends who surprise me out of the blue with words of care that leave me stammering in surprise and pleasure." 

Unfathomable Even to Brilliant, Kind, and Open Minds: The Securely Single

I've been studying singles, single life, and perceptions and stereotypes of singles for more than a decade. One of the most resistant myths is that no one can be truly secure in their single status. Even the most brilliant, kind, and open-minded thinkers get tripped up by their inability to appreciate that single people can be happily and securely single. A recent Psych Today post describing single people as fragile, bitter, vibrator-clutching, porn-watching, and resentful of happily coupled people is a telling example of this. Also, I offer advice for couples on Valentine's Day.