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. 

Getting Married and Getting Sex (or Not)

The National Sex Survey was full of information about rates of sexual problems. Waite and Gallagher do not have much to say on that topic. Here's some of what they skipped over. With regard to some of the problems men might have, such as an inability to maintain an erection, climaxing too early, or experiencing pain during sex, currently married men have nothing over men who have always been single. When the two groups differ on those measures, it is the married men who are more likely to be having difficulties. Men who have always been single also report fewer sexual problems than divorced men. Among the women, the group most likely to be problem-free is not the currently married women.

The Case for Marriage is a Sham

The claim that "marriage is so good" is often based on a widely-cited, but massively flawed book, The Case for Marriage. Much of that book, and the case it tries to make, does not meet the highest scientific standards. Not even close. Getting married does not offer great benefits (except for financial ones, largely a consequence of marital status discrimination), so the finding that many people do not want to marry poses no paradox. 

Should You Marry that Rude, Stinky, Creepy Person Since You’re Not Perfect Either?

Once upon a time, a reporter for a major magazine declared, in all seriousness, that women should just get married already - even if it means settling for someone kind of repulsive. I wish I could say that it happened back in the Stone Age. In fact, though, the insolent story was published by Lori Gottlieb in the Atlantic magazine in 2008. Today, Gottlieb's regressive singlist, matrimaniacal essay, expanded to book length, appeared in print. Don't buy it - the book or the message. 

Shame on You, APA!

The Monitor, a publication of the American Psychological Association, should be a respectable source of accurate information about psychological research. It should also be professional. But in a recent brief report of a study documenting the strong psychological resources of people who have always been single, it humiliated itself. It characterized the state of the literature on marital status and emotional well-being in a way that was inaccurate. It gleefully disparaged single people. It ended the report with a more subtle example of singlism, implying that these successful single people were not living their single lives in a positive way, but instead "avoiding" marriage. Consciousness-raising about singles has a long way to go.

Amazon Pulls Thousands of Books

Since none of the other PT bloggers seem to have mentioned it yet, I thought PT book lovers and Amazon customers might like to know that Amazon has (temporarily, I hope) pulled thousands, if not tens of thousands, of books from its site over a dispute with one of the biggest publishers in the nation. Plus, what to wear on Valentine's Day.