"Well PL, you keep asking to hear from others as you throw down the gauntlets. Maybe we should revisit the “Am I a curmudgeon?” post ha-ha. I enjoy this exercise because you do raise some good questions and come up with some brow raising conclusions that are predictably suspect. Here goes…
"What is the point of trying to argue single people are happier and better parents? Is this another, see look at me, I’m right once again! Is this just the 'Me Generation' getting the best of you? Did you think the same way when married all those years? Or did you, like me, enter a previous marriage that wasn’t based on long lasting principles?
"I have been single, married and divorced. I agree that being single has its benefits but to get to the core of the human spirit, I feel that happiness is at its greatest when shared. Married or not. I have been alone. I have served myself. I have been that non-committal, self-serving man about whom you write so romantically. On some level, I agree that there is a sense 'full permission living.' A sense of freedom. A sense of glorious invigoration. The difference is that whatever I did during those times only impacted me. There were no children or a spouse or even close friends who depended on me to help them live to the fullest. That sucked to have such 'success and not to be able to share it with someone close to me. Married or not.
“I now have a family to which I am committed to provide love, guidance, support and happiness. We may not always achieve those things and it may cost us tremendous sacrifice and pain, but at the end of the day, if I have a choice to take care of them or me, I hope to have the strength to choose them. Ultimately, my pleasure, self, life and love is inextricably linked to them. Their pleasure is mine. That is who I am. For me, and I'm sure to many of your readers, to share those triumphs and feelings bring about another level of happiness that you can’t obtain by yourself. Many years ago, I sat, alone free and fully permitted to live, overlooking the Venetian lagoon, drinking wine and eating cheese. I thought I was at in heaven. Many years later, when I was able to return there and share that with my wife, I knew I was.
"The convenient defaults for why people are not whole or act the way they do are too simplified and dishonest. I agree that marriage does not equal love nor happiness but it doesn’t exclude them as the blog suggests. You do give your cursory disclaimers but clearly they are throw aways to protect the flawed logic. You write: 'I know that there are fully self-actualized, married parents out there. I just haven’t met any yet.' If I am to be intellectually bullied, I would say, 'PL has so much couple therapy experience, and he writes with such conviction, it has to be true.' I would then bow, get on a knee and kiss the ring of the all knowing OZ. Sorry, I may be stupid but am certainly not so myopic to think there is only one way to look at things nor would I ever attempt to paint with a broad brush so many hold dear. Homosexuals, have fought so hard to obtain the right to marry. I guess PL and Bella both find the Gay Marriage movement ridiculous. Why would they fight for something so devalued by these writers? Using their logic, the thousands of married homosexuals are not happy and just crave the institutionalized qualities marriage gives them.
"Last point regarding 'studies show...?' Anyone involved in marketing and politics can easily give you the scientific “data” to support two opposing views. I’ve conducted sociological + political studies and know how easy it is to manipulate not just the conclusions based on “fact” but the actual collection of the data. I trumpeted Truth! Fact! Science! as a way of 'convincing' readers of my conclusions. How right I was! Sound familiar?
"I always keep a pile of grains of salt while reading conclusions from these 'studies.'
As always, Rick, your comments are thoughtful and from the heart. Thanks for that.
If you check out what I was saying in my post, I said I was just “spinning off” from the article about the upside of avoiding marriage by Bella DePaulo, not parroting it, and my main point wasn’t that marriage is inherently bad or good, but that because it is an institution to so many people who engage in it, it is not often connected to real love. It is treated like an obligation to fulfill, a role to play for social status, etc. My concern is that far too many people get married for reasons other than love. Same with having kids. And that’s why sacrificing becomes a necessary part of it, because if you’re doing something like getting married or having kids for reasons other than true love, you’re attempting to fulfill the dictates of your ego and of childhood images, etc., and you’re going to suffer. This is a recipe for disaster and dysfunction.
It’s not that being single should be essentially better for one’s mental, emotional and physical health. It’s that it may be so in our culture because people feel mandated to get married in a certain way, to a certain type of person, by a certain age, etc., and so enter into the proposition under great duress. That cannot be healthy for anyone involved, the couple or the prospective kids.
I’m not advocating here that one should live without commitment in one’s life. Not at all. I’m saying that one should be committed first and foremost to being true to one’s heart and soul, rather than to the dictates of societal prescriptions or archaic images.
The highest levels of love, enlightenment and self-actualization are to be found in that most intimate relationship between two human beings who are in-love, Rick. Of that there is no doubt. In isolation, no one can truly find the peak of what it is to be human. It is not a cliché to say that through loving another, we find our own true self.
But it can’t be faked.