At Thanksgiving one of L.’s uncles made a comment/short-ish monologue about how marriage is the quickest way to break you of your selfish habits. And while his assertion may be true, that conversation made me think of the many ways we shortchange single people. Because yes, living with L. means sometimes I put his needs before my own (like when I do his laundry so he doesn’t have to, or walk the dog before he gets home, or tell him of course it’s okay if he wants to spend eight hours on Saturday playing Bloodborne). And sometimes he puts mine before his (like when he accompanies me to DI or Target and waits patiently for me to finish, or when he cooks dinner because I’m finally making progress on the diss and don’t want to stop, or takes the bus so I can have the car). So yes, I guess it does teach you kindness and patience and all that stuff. But I wish we could stop talking about single people as unattached people who do whatever they want, whenever they want. In my experience, if you’re an asshole, you’re an asshole even if you’re married/partnered, and the reverse is also true.
When I think about our move to California, a couple conflicting emotions crop up. I actually kind of resent the fact that I’m the trailing spouse in this move, giving up my friends and the job prospects I had so that L. can further his career. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything in it for me (sun! more people like me! ultimately better job prospects, even if my contacts are all here! living closer to my dad!) but just that while we both have to rebuild our lives, L. gets to do that with a direct purpose, while I have to find mine again, if you get what I mean.
And yet I am also grateful that I didn’t have to make the decision. I just had to sign off on it. Moving to Germany and Utah were not the hardest things I’ve ever done, but there is a mind-boggling amount of loneliness and drudgery involved in building a new life. (At least if you’re an introvert.) My point is that as a single person, I had to do that all by myself, right? What I mean, I think, is that as a single person, I couldn’t rely on anyone else for my happiness. I had to make all my own decisions, invest in myself, design my own future, support myself emotionally and financially while still being open to love and a relationship. That is simply not true as a partnered person: in my experience, sharing responsibilities and worries and joys completely changes the dynamics and lightens the load dramatically. In many ways, I do think it’s “easier” to be partnered than single, if only because you’re meeting heteronormative societal norms. Plus, Thanksgiving might contain a loaded question or two about (the lack of) your childbearing plans, but at least no one can imply you’re wasting your life because you’re not dating anyone.
Novel idea: how about we stop talking like it’s Paul vs. Mormonism, single vs married? Life happens, and sometimes you meet someone, sometimes you don’t. Let’s stop categorizing people based on their relationship status and put the Thanksgiving focus back on turkey and pumpkin pie, where it belongs.