“[W]hat it does bring home to us is that we can no longer pretend that marriage is the central organizing principle of society?”
– Historian Stephanie Coontz
There’s been a rash of studies and news articles lately on the declining marriage rate and the subsequent rise in single people. Two that I’ve seen a lot of include:
- NPR – When It Comes To Marriage, Many More Say ‘I Don’t’
- The Pew Research Institute – Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married; A Record Low
Looks like the rest of the country is finally starting to figure out what I’ve known for a long time: not only is being single not bad, it can be pretty good.
In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today, just 51% are. While many of those who are not married used to be –they’re divorced or widowed– 28% have never been married, which is almost twice as many as in 1960. Something’s happening.
When I first started writing my book, The Spinsterlicious Life, people would look puzzled when I would say “it’s about being happily single.” Now, just a short year later, that same conversation often ends with “that’s great” or, at least, “that’s interesting”; but I don’t get “huh?” as much anymore.
But this whole marriage-no marriage conversation is not a simple one. The Pew study also found that though 40% of Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete, 61% of those who’ve never been married say they would like to someday. It’s complicated.
And now, there’s a National Unmarried and Single Americans week. It’s September 16-22, this year. Yep, we have our own week.
And here’s a little ammo for the next time you’re engaged in one of those tedious “when are you getting married” conversations and want something new and different to say. An article in the New York Times reports that Singles actually make more of a contribution to society, their communities, and their families than married people do.
That’s right. A study by the Council on Contemporary Families found that Singles are:
- More likely to take care of their parents
- More connected to their nieces and nephews
- More likely to visit their neighbors
- More likely to attend political gatherings, and are
- More active volunteers in their communities. (When married people volunteer, it’s apparently more self-serving, e.g., coaching sports their kids are involved in, or being active in their own church, whereas voluntarism by Singles is more likely to focus on others, without it having a direct impact on their own lives).
Single people, especially those without kids, are often called selfish…for a reason I’ve never really understood. Selfish? Really? Well, we’re busy being good citizens. Nuthin selfish about that. And it’s about time we got a little credit.
So, in honor of National Unmarried and Single Americans Week, The Spinsterlicious Life is hosting a sweepstakes that encourages single women everywhere (or who, at least, read this blog) to add their voices to the conversation and tell us how they embrace being single. Details below:
- Tell us how you embrace being single, in an essay of no more than 400 words, by clicking here: http://eleanorewells.com/spinsterliciousgiveaway/
- You’ll be entered to win one of three fabulous prizes: (1) A 4-day/3-night stay (airfare not included) at the luxurious Secrets The Vine Cancun (courtesy of TravelSmiths Inc.), (2) a Pleasure Basket of adult toys and accessories from AdamandEve.com and a Cuff bracelet provided by A.Jaron Fine Jewelery, (3) Mind, Body and Spirit Relaxation Gift Package courtesy of GIVE and a 3 month fitness membership at NYSC.
- Every other day until the end of the month, we will feature a lucky entrant’s essay on how she embraces being single.