Feature: Single By Choice

Single By Choice

I am single and happy. In our Indian context being single is a “stigma”. Many people think that marriage is the be-all and end all of life.

This is the reason why people save gold and cash at the birth of a girl. A single woman or a “spinster” (a word I don’t like) is looked down upon in society. My parents thought differently though.

My father was very much against giving and receiving a dowry. My parents told me to find my own life partner. When my mother asked me about “marriage” – I told her that if I married I would not work and vice-versa. For me, I felt that one had to give hundred percent to whatever one choose to do. I also believe that God had a will for my life and that I would do His will.

My father wanted me to be a doctor – to follow his footsteps. At that stage the sight of blood terrified me. I wanted to be a teacher as I loved being with children. Being the eldest grand-daughter on both sides, it was a pleasure taking care of my siblings & cousins. Till I finished college, my father was not sure about me getting into the teaching profession.

Soon after, I got admission into a Teachers Training College. When that happened, I knew that God wanted me to be a “single woman” and I told my parents. They were happy about my decision. Apart from working to give 100% to my vocation – teaching, my other decision was to look after my parents when they were old. My parents were very independent but they also said that I had to take care of my siblings – who were also independent in their own way.

I am glad I had the privilege of looking after my mother for the last 8 years of her life. She passed away at the age of 97. I have been in the field of education – both regular and special, for the past 46 years and I have no regrets regarding my job. Being single is not easy. There are temptations and problems that only singles face.

People get the idea that since one does not have a family one has a lot of free time. This is not true. We have our own responsibilities. As I look back, I thank God for the many children and grandchildren with whom I have been in touch. Some of them are still in touch and I feel like a proud “mother” when I hear of their achievements. I am also able to understand and empathize with other single ladies. Remember, being single is not by compulsion but it is a choice every single woman makes.

Singlehood has many shades
Most cultures, past and present, have viewed adulthood as synonymous with being married and having children, and being single as a transitional stage that preceded these significant and expected adult roles. Although singlehood is less stigmatized today than in the past, being married remains the typical and expected lifestyle choice and, therefore, the status of being never married remains some what ambiguous or marginalized. Peter Stein (1981) identifies four categories of never-married based upon attitudes toward this single status —

  1. Voluntary/temporary singles
  2. Voluntary/stable singles
  3. Involuntary/temporary singles
  4. Involuntary/stable singles.

Although individuals can move between and among these categories over their lifetime, whether singlehood is perceived as a choice or circumstance, or is seen as temporary or permanent, can inuence one’s satisfaction with being single, and one’s overall well-being. The voluntary and stable singles tend to be single by choice and generally satisfied with their decision as we saw in Shanti’s story.

The involuntary and stable singles tend to be dissatisfied with their singlehood, but feel it is permanent. This group includes many well-educated, professionally successful women for whom finding a suitable mate is often a problem of demographics — a lack of older, single, welleducated men. This category tends to be the most difficult for successful adjustment to permanent singlehood.

Stein’s foundational work highlights the diversity that exists within the nevermarried population, as well as the importance of choice in remaining single for life satisfaction. Research supports this diversity. Many never-married individuals make a positive and conscious choice to remain single (O’Brien 1991), while others look upon their singlehood as less desirable, resulting from circumstances beyond their control (Austrom 1984). The former group tends to be more satisfied with being single than the latter.

The Mixed Bag
Yes singlehood is a mixed bag. There are great oppurtunities to dedicate yourself to your passions and calling and also real challenges of desire for companionship and handling loneliness (not that marrieds are exempt from it). Sexual desires and how you meet them is also an area of challenge. Falling into unhealthy ways of handling it like pornography addiction and multiple relationships that harm our self-esteem and integrity are things we need to watch out for (again this applies even to marrieds).

Knowing what we believe and what we want is the key. Once we know that we can choose to intentionally live in a way that honors ourselves and helps us fulfill our vision. Take the mixed bag and make the most of it! Whatever your experience of singleness, make the most of it for as long as you have it.

Singles/Never Married Persons – Social And Historical Context Of Singlehood – Gender, Stereotypes, Family, Definition, Women, and Marriage – JRank Articles Never-Married-Persons-Social-Historical- Context-Singlehood.html#ixzz4mawFEe79

Contributed by Shanti Gnanaolivu

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