By Marla Martenson for YourTango.com.
“Greener pastures is a phrase most of us pick up and think about fairly early in life. It is rather sad that many people spend so much time thinking of other pastures that they never properly appraise their own.” This quote from Bob Proctor makes me think about why single women are told their happiness will increase once they land a husband.
As a matchmaker, I have worked with women for over a decade assisting them in their search for a husband. Many single women believe that once they find their man, everything will be coming up roses. But having been on both sides of the fence, I will tell you that plenty of weeds manage to find their way into that rose garden as well. No one else can make you happy unless you are happy with yourself first, and the most important relationship that you can have is with yourself. Marriage isn’t a magic potion for a wonderful life, but it still somehow has the allure that once you will meet that special person, everything will fall into place.
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The fundamental problem with this mentality is simple. In our culture, around 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and most serious relationships don’t even make it to long-term. Need proof? Just think about the countless books written on the subject of relationships and how to communicate better with the opposite sex. We are clearly floundering in this area, desperate for guidance.
In their book, Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps, Barbara and Allan Pease say, “Women criticize men for being insensitive, uncaring, not listening, not being warm and compassionate, not talking, not giving enough love, not being committed to relationships, wanting to have sex rather than make love, and leaving the toilet seat up. Men criticize women about their driving, for not being able to read street directories, for turning maps upside down, for their lack of a sense of direction, for talking too much without getting to the point, for not initiating sex enough, and for leaving the toilet seat down.”
The brain structures of men and women have evolved and changed in different ways over millions of years. We think differently, and have different behaviors and priorities. It is our hormones and brain-wiring that are mainly responsible for these differences. For instance, testosterone — yes, that hormone that makes your man oh-so-irresistably-manly — can also make your head spin. In short: marriage to a hot-headed man can be just as annoying as feeling lonely as a single gal.
As a quick example of this in action, I was recently treated to a side of testosterone with my coffee the other day. Now, I had heard that high levels of testosterone increase one’s sense of pride and boost self-image. That made total sense as my neck snapped. Adolfo, my testosterone-fueled Latin “luh-vuh”, was slamming on the brakes while simultaneously muttering expletives into the rearview mirror. Translation: someone was tailgating us, a crime not to go unnoticed, (or punished for that matter), by the proud man driving our salsa-red Toyota Scion.
My Starbucks vanilla soy latte sloshed in protest — a splatter of hot liquid onto my lap.
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“WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON?” I screamed.
“That jerk is tailgating me!”
“Just move over, let him pass!” I pleaded.
“Shut up,” Adolfo bellowed as he continued pumping the brake, more coffee and screaming spilling out. All of a sudden, the tailgater darted into the left hand lane, accelerated at top speed, cutting in front of us and slammed on his brakes.
I screamed louder. “OH MY GOD! WE ARE GOING TO DIE!”
“Stop screaming,” Adolfo warned, hands flailing, middle finger communicating distain for his new enemy. Adolfo switched lanes and accelerated to the side of the culprit, yelling expletives all the way.
I saw my life passing in front of me. “You’re playing CHICKEN on the freeway?! Oh my God! What is the matter with you?! Stop it!” Adolfo assured me he knew what he was doing. I hyperventilated as I watched the tailgater take the next exit and disappear as quickly as he came: a tornado of fury, fueled by ego, pride and testosterone… his morning had certainly started off with a bang!
Now, if it were me in the driver’s seat (which will never happen, because — ahem — someone is of the opinion that “I don’t know how to drive”) I would have just moved over and let the tailgater pass, but hey, that’s just me. I do feel not only extremely fortunate, but I am sure that God has put me on the earth for a higher calling of some sort, because I am still above ground after three husbands-worth of testosterone-fueled car rides over the past thirty years.
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Humor aside, marriage can be extremely stressful. When I was growing up, all of the women in our neighborhood were stay-at-home moms. Their jobs were to raise the kids and take care of the house. Now, women are expected to raise the kids, take care of the house and be out there bringing home half of the bacon — all the while staying fit, sexy, and ready for romance at the drop of a hat. Many of us are running around like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to get everything done on our lists by the end of the day. That said, marriage is still the ambition of most women. What I find sad is the fact that so many single women are missing out on the deliciousness of their own lives because they are completely focused on finding a man to make their future brighter.
My husband is an entertainer and performs four nights per week at a restaurant in Beverly Hills. There are a lot of regulars that hang out at the bar and enjoy his music. Upon meeting some of these regulars that happen to be women, I would often get the same comment, “Oh, it is so nice to meet you! Your husband is so talented. You two make such a great couple! I want what you two have together.”
What?! These comments come from people that have never met me, and know nothing about our relationship. They project their idea of marriage onto us and automatically assume that everything is bliss, just because we’ve exchanged vows. I have decided the next time I am on the receiving end of such a comment, I will offer them a ride on the freeway with my husband.
Now, all kidding aside, marriage definitely has its perks. An article from Science Daily tackled the issue. Here’s what they found: “…researchers analyzed data for 4,802 individuals who took part in the University of North Carolina Alumni Heart Study, an ongoing study of individuals born in the 1940s. The authors were particularly interested in stability and change in patterns of marital and non-marital status during midlife, controlling for personality at college entry (average age 18), socioeconomic status and health risk behaviors. They found that having a partner during middle age is protective against premature death: those who never married were more than twice as likely to die early than those who had been in a stable marriage throughout their adult life. Being single, or losing a partner without replacement, increased the risk of early death during middle age and reduced the likelihood that one would survive to be elderly.”
When I was single, I enjoyed being able to do what I wanted, and when I wanted to without having to check in with someone. I could decorate the house the way I wanted, leave the dishes in the sink and not make the bed if I didn’t feel like it. But at the end of the day, I was longing for someone to snuggle with in front of the television — and my dog didn’t count. I also desired that feeling of safety, that someone had my back, and was there for emotional support and companionship. Now, my husband and I travel together, explore the world, share favorite foods and TV shows, and work out at the gym together. We have a lot of passion and romance, and my dear husband is also very handy around the house, as well as a genius with computers. If I weren’t married, the Geek Squad would definitely be on speed dial. We are there for each other in the good times and in bad, and that makes life just a little bit sweeter. But it didn’t mean my single life was unfulfilled.
There are pros and cons to both singledom and marriage, so I don’t think that one group is happier than the other. In the end, being happy in your own skin and loving the life that you have is the ultimate goal. Enjoy where you are now, because tomorrow is not guaranteed. And don’t step over the fence into someone else’s pasture, because you just might step into a big ol’ cow patty!
This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Are Married Women Happier Than Single Ladies?.