All the single ladies

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

The Single American Woman

This is a long article about the influence of single women on the
political scene. On the Totebag we have several members who hold strong
opinions about single mothers, for example. This article addresses why
remaining single often seems to be in women’s self-interest. It looks at
affluent single women as well as lower-income women. Totebaggers, if you
found yourself single tomorrow, would you look for another partner? Or
would you say “BTDT” and forge ahead independently?

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171 thoughts on “All the single ladies

  1. “Today, only around 20 percent of Americans ages 18–29 are wed, compared to nearly 60 percent in 1960”

    This statistic surprised me. If I found myself single tomorrow, I would not get married again. BTDT. I’d focus on myself and my kids, and perhaps date casually, if I felt like it.

  2. Widow here. I will NEVER get married again. FWBs only. Don’t see any upsides of marriage, but do see a lot of downsides.

  3. If I found myself suddenly single tomorrow, I seriously doubt I would date or remarry with young children still at home.

    Of course, I can’t imagine having time to date with 3 kids under 5, nor can I imagine what type of man would want to marry a woman with several small children.

  4. “Today, only around 20 percent of Americans ages 18–29 are wed, compared to nearly 60 percent in 1960”

    Of my cohort of friends and colleagues (men and women), this does not surprise me at all. For family, marriage in one’s mid to late 20s is more typical.

  5. “nor can I imagine what type of man would want to marry a woman with several small children.”

    My best friend from high school married a woman with twin 2 yo daughters NOT from a previous marriage when we were 24. He adopted them and they had 2 kids of their own. Still happily married after 30+ years.

  6. I wonder how they capture people that live together in very long term relationships, but are not married. Until recently, this would have included same sex partners too. I lived with someone for many years in my 20s, but we ultimately never got married. My mother lived with someone for over 40 years, but they never got married. The reason was that they went through very bitter divorces, and they never wanted to be legally married again. NY does not have common law marriage so this creates a lot of problems if the other person gets sick or dies.

    I was single for a long time, and I did keep meeting other single people because it was the source of my social life and friendships as my friends moved on to the burbs and babies. Most of these women and men had political leanings that were formed in their childhoods. I only have one friend that I can really think of that swung from Republican to a Sanders type. The rest remained Republican or Democrat even when they remained single. Some of my friends never married, and they really don’t seem to have changed their political party.

  7. “This article addresses why remaining single often seems to be in women’s self-interest.”

    It does so by focusing solely on individual earnings and completely ignoring combined household earnings (and support resources, etc.), which would make paint marriage a lot more favorably in economic terms.

  8. I think many women in the past were much tougher and more independent-minded than we give them credit for now – but it’s really tough to run a livestock farm or plow and harvest grain on your own as a woman. Sometimes remarriage is a practical solution, even now.

  9. Milo,

    I think, as others have pointed out before, that marriage benefits are much stronger for middle-class and above women.

    If you are a poor woman and the best partner you can reasonably attract has limited education and poor job prospects (maybe due to prior incarceration?), you probably are making a reasonable decision if you choose to go it alone.

  10. I don’t think I would remarry until the kids are older and out of the house, and even then I think the chances of me finding someone to marry would be low. I would probably move closer to some of my siblings so that my kids could have some men in their lives on a stable and regular basis (assuming I am widowed).

  11. I don’t know if I would remarry either until the kids were grown. My parents divorced when I was 10 and my mother married a total jerk (they divorced about 15 years ago). It was a tough environment for my sisters who lived with her most of the time (my dad had them on the weekends). I’d like to think I have better judgement but you never know. I would probably move back to my hometown to be near grandparents.

    I think marriage has value for women but think it’s a good thing for women to live on their own before getting married in general.

  12. I probably wouldn’t remarry. My MIL (widowed late 50’s) is BTDT and her sister (widowed early 60’s) has re-established a close friendship with a former military colleague of her late husband whose wife died of cancer but they would definitely not marry for legal reasons. My dad is seeing a close friend of my mom’s. Mr WCE would probably remarry and that’s part of why when we discussed affording childcare/housekeeping, I consider my situation so different from his.

    I think it’s wonderful that women can choose a happy, single life. I strongly hold the opinion I could not parent as well solo and that most people parent better with a partner. Women who think through the decision to become single moms before getting pregnant and choose to parent solo are usually good parents, for the same reasons that people who choose to homeschool are usually good teachers. Selection bias.

  13. Like Cordelia, I would marry again if I met someone similar to DH. I was happily single and independent through most of my 20’s and would never be with some just for the sake of having a boyfriend or husband. I can be quite happy on my own. But I am happier with DH than I would be on my own.

  14. I’m hoping to get alimony, so I will certainly not get married until that runs out! :-) But seriously, I can’t imagine marrying again while my daughter is at home anyway. Maybe, if I have a long-term, live-in relationship with someone later in life, I would consider getting married if the laws around medical care and death have not improved for non-married partners. But can’t you cover all that with powers of attorney, living wills, etc. anyway?

  15. One point the article seems to miss is that I think most single women don’t necessarily intend to be single their whole lives — they may not find the right someone, or they may not in the end be willing to make the tradeoffs, but I think most single women still *think* that in a perfect world, they would be married someday. Which makes it hard to consolidate political power or a specific political worldview, since many women see being single in their 20s or 30s as a transitory state.

    @Milo — I think you are perhaps seeing this too much from your own perspective, as a reasonable guy and supportive husband in a pretty equal marriage. To be blunt, you are the exception, not the rule. And even with a fully supportive partner, it is *hard* to have two gung-ho careers, and usually the wife is the one who cuts back. As your experience and my own show.

    From my perspective, the reality of marriage for men looks like a net plus (except for that “not able to sleep around anymore thing,” unless of course you luck into someone like the lady from Friday): you add either a second income or someone to take care of the home/kids (or both). From the perspective of the young woman who wants to work, OTOH, you either find someone who doesn’t want kids, send your kid to full-time daycare and still be mommy-tracked at work (and get the “bad mommy” social pressure as a bonus), or assume you are going to need to cut back somehow or quit entirely to take care of them, because someone has to handle the calls from the school nurse/get dinner on the table/put the kids to bed/get the kids to/from practice/etc. Not that these are all bad/horrible things — but it is a tradeoff that women, not men, are expected to make. And one that many men aren’t willing to make anyway (DH is awesome and firmly believes in theoretical equality and covers his share at home, but he would *never* go part-time to be the primary caregiver).

    Of course these are all massive generalities. But I think classic economic theory would tell you that the proof is in the numbers: if marriage, as most people experience it (including double incomes/shared expenses), were such a great deal for women, then you wouldn’t see so many women choosing to remain single.

  16. +1 to what WCE and LfB said.

    Likewise, I think DH likely would remarry in the event of my untimely demise. The calculus is totally different for men, IMHO – I suspect he (nice guy, good looking, well-educated with Totebag-level employment) wouldn’t have much trouble finding a woman like WCE’s sister who had wanted children but hadn’t married early enough to have them biologically, and who could save him from needing to remember which week we need to bring snack to the preschool class.

  17. LfB +1

    When I got divorced my life got easier, not harder, entirely because I chose the wrong husband and I am fully able to support myself and my kids. I was definitely feeling BTDT for 5 years post-separation, but I have a wonderful boyfriend now and if we were to get married or live together I think both of our lives would be easier with someone to share the load, but that will not happen while the kids are still in school. I do not think we will get legally married for tax/financial reasons and because I don’t “need” to be legally married. However, perhaps when we are older if it is better to ensure our wishes are carried out, we might – even with power of attorney etc. if there are grown children involved I can foresee issues.

  18. Hmm. If I were widowed, I think I would probably wait until all the kids were out of the house to cohabitate or marry again, and that would be iff I found someone like DH – until then I might date but probably would wait for a while before doing that. I can’t imagine us getting divorced so I won’t. :)

  19. To add to LFB’s list, a wife also ends up taking care of the husband. Cooking dinner, cleaning, managing the house, doing laundry, planning vacations and social activities, etc. DH is an awesome guy, but I take care of him 90% of the time and he takes care of me about 10% of the time. This is why widowers are much more eager to get remarried than widows.

    Maybe other families are different, but this is how it works in our family and the families of my friends.

  20. Also anecdotally, the MEN who are divorce clients here tend to remarry pretty quickly, as 11:14 notes.

  21. Ummm….The conversation seems to be a little harsh on husbands. Yes, I do most of the cooking, grocery shopping, laundry and kid scheduling. DH does most if not all of the really nasty, necessary work. E.g plumbing issues, icky unpleasant stuff. It’s not a fair tradeoff, but until he complains, I’m going with it.

    I am pretty sure everyone here married by choice, and stays married by choice. What unpleasant tasks that are necessary to the partnership does your partner undertake that you would just as soon not do?

  22. “Also anecdotally, the MEN who are divorce clients here tend to remarry pretty quickly, as 11:14 notes.”

    Then why is that, if LfB’s economic theory suggests that we’re bringing a lot less to the table? That, and the gender disparity in libido WCE noted, should suggest the opposite.

  23. Maybe, if I have a long-term, live-in relationship with someone later in life, I would consider getting married if the laws around medical care and death have not improved for non-married partners. But can’t you cover all that with powers of attorney, living wills, etc. anyway?

    Depends on what you want to cover. My mom and her boyfriend got married after 20 years of living together. He died less than two years later. Because they were married, she got half his pension after he died and access to his retiree health insurance benefits. There was absolutely no way she could have gotten that without being married to him. The insurance ended up being huge when she was diagnosed with cancer a few years later.

  24. “If you are a poor woman and the best partner you can reasonably attract has limited education and poor job prospects (maybe due to prior incarceration?), you probably are making a reasonable decision if you choose to go it alone.”

    It depends. Even a former convict can easily add marginal value to the household, assuming he wants to (and I realize many might not). It doesn’t take a good job to do that, just *some* job. And not spending all his paycheck on hooch.

  25. Until we had kids ~9 yrs into marriage, DW worked full time. Then she cut back to 80% with kid 1 and to 60% with kid 2. It’s been that way ever since, even though she could have gone back to full time if she wanted to at any time. Now, even with just 1 at home she likes having a midweek day for errand crap and Fridays for fun with friends (mostly other moms who work similar 50-60% schedules).

    DW has said she probably wouldn’t remarry. I don’t know what I’d do. I’m thinking I’d want to be in a relationship. We’re beyond the stage of needing “someone who could save (me) from needing to remember which week we need to bring snack to the preschool class”…maybe just well-trained at this point…but having someone else around seems desirable at this point.

  26. Cordelia – I can’t really think of anything that DH does for our family that I can’t do and vice versa.

    Over the past few years I’ve started to not volunteer to take care of some things (e.g., making dinner), to see if DH will. And its worked – we now share cooking far more equally and DH’s cooking has improved.

  27. Ummm….The conversation seems to be a little harsh on husbands.

    As a husband, I agree with this statement :) LfB’s and Houston’s comments seem to be so opposite of what I see among our friends, for the most part. Obviously you never know the inner workings of someone else’s relationship, but based on what we see and what they say, most of them seem to be a lot closer to 50-50.

  28. I would date and maybe have a serious relationship, but I don’t think I’d want to live with anyone while my son is young

    DH is great at cooking and cleaning btw

  29. From the perspective of the young woman who wants to work, OTOH, you either find someone who doesn’t want kids, send your kid to full-time daycare and still be mommy-tracked at work (and get the “bad mommy” social pressure as a bonus), or assume you are going to need to cut back somehow or quit entirely to take care of them, because someone has to handle the calls from the school nurse/get dinner on the table/put the kids to bed/get the kids to/from practice/etc. Not that these are all bad/horrible things — but it is a tradeoff that women, not men, are expected to make.

    But this has nothing to do with being married, it’s in regards to having kids. A single mother would face the exact same issues. Why wouldn’t she be better off with a husband who handles even 10% of the household/parenting stuff, plus is bringing in a second income?

    And if a woman is married and doesn’t have kids, then none of this applies.

  30. “be blunt, you are the exception, not the rule. And even with a fully supportive partner, it is *hard* to have two gung-ho careers, and usually the wife is the one who cuts back. As your experience and my own show.”

    Fred brought me to this point, because LfB’s presumption that DW would choose to do more than part time is erroneous.

  31. Cordelia, our household division of labor breaks down similar to yours. But we don’t have very many things in the icky category we need to work on other than the occasional toilet clog, or checking the basement mouse traps. Except for simple maintenance, I am smart enough to call a professional and get it done right the first time.

  32. Regarding icky chores–We hire out for plumbing, electrical, car mechanic, painting, major and minor house repairs, pest control, etc.

    What does DH bring to the table? DH is my biggest fan. Whatever I want to do, he is behind me 100%. He is also an awesome father. He is supportive, but demanding of the kids. We make a great team. He is also very appreciative for all that I do.

    However, the question is, if I find myself single tomorrow, would I stay that way? Yes. I have my kids. They are awesome and almost grown. I can support myself, and my family. And I won’t find anyone else like DH. He is one in a million.

  33. Our division of labor is pretty fair and is probably proportional to how much we work. DH cleans much more than me, i just handle the day to date running of the household. I wouldn’t want to work more than part time either if I didn’t have to, although DH would certainly be happy not to be the breadwinner if I was.

  34. “But this has nothing to do with being married, it’s in regards to having kids. A single mother would face the exact same issues. Why wouldn’t she be better off with a husband who handles even 10% of the household/parenting stuff, plus is bringing in a second income?”

    Yes. It seems that being single may work out better economically for the majority of women who do not want kids. Bur for the majority of women who want kids, marriage is a better deal.

  35. Being a single woman is one thing but being a single woman with a kid/kids is another. Being honest here, apart from income, the most value DH adds is being the second parent in the kid’s lives. I have the household and kid responsibilities and had to scale back at work to manage it all. I would not get get married again. Just this weekend, surrounded by a bunch of cranky family, I was thinking how good it would be to come home to an empty house, put on some music, not worry about everyone’s schedule for tomorrow, change and head to yoga class.

  36. Having to take care of my husband as cited above and clean up after him was a great deal more work than he what he provided to the family. But again, I know now that I chose poorly, partially because of the men on this blog and because of the view I have of both my brother’s marriages. I think I have chosen better the second time around, but still don’t need the legality of marriage at this stage in my life.

  37. I”m in the BTDT camp right now. The man would have to be perfect for me and whatever family dynamics I have. Currently, that would be 1 child, a mom, 2 dogs, and an extended family (including DH’s because DS would need to know them too) out of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Seriously, no man would sign up for that. But who knows. I do know that as a single mom, everything in my house would continue to swim – and I like that. I like security of working full time, knowing that I choose DH. A lot of women don’t have that security.

    On the article, one quote stuck out to me: “that the marriage rate for these women [women who voted for Romney over Obama] was a greater influence on vote choice than any other variable.”

    I have a lot of friends like this. Prior to marriage, they political views were not as defined, or they were very pliable. Once they were married, their views changed to match the husband’s views. And this didn’t limit itself to politics. I have a few friends who loved their jobs, and then, upon marriage (kids weren’t even in the discussion yet), said, “I’m going to be a SAHM when the time comes.” It never seemed like a fluid process, but a binary decision. I know for one woman, her husband definitely made that decision for her.

    One other thing about Clinton – the author mentioned how single women don’t flock to her. I know it’s because of her politics (or her realistic versions of the policies that could be passed), but I also wonder if Clinton’s history and age are factors. She’s a “sunflower” – a woman who’s finest hour comes after her husband’s career and her kids are grown. That’s Clinton – she was backstage during her husband’s show, raised her daughter, and now is coming into her own. What if young, single women see this as “the path”? The path of – support hubby’s career and when he’s done, you can have your won. Why would they want that, when they can lean in? Or support Sanders’s, whose idealism plays into their own?

    I have a lot of single women friends. They are mostly in Sanders’ camp, but, seemingly, not in self-interest. They are a group of altruistic minded people. The few who aren’t, are definitely more center than left or right.

  38. If I am to get divorced or widowed, I would not remarry! I would love to be in a relationship but not marriage. My DH is like Houstons DH and I am really ticked off at him nowadays. So, I will certainly not choose someone like DH if you are asking me right now.

    IMO, for women in such situations, if they have a very close cohort of friends and some great guy FWBs, marriage has very little upside.

  39. I probably wouldn’t remarry *because* my husband is awesome. He would be a very tough act to follow and I can’t imagine a step-dad would be that much of a benefit for my kids that it would outweigh the problems that come along with blending a family. Plus, I met my husband when I was younger, skinnier, more carefree and without kids. I don’t bring as much to the table now and I am not interested in a guy who is looking for $. 😄

  40. I have been married to DH for about 2/3 of my life, I cannot imagine life without him although statically is quite possible that might happen. Should he predecease me unexpectly or heaven forbid we divorce , after a period of serious morning I would want to remarry in a NY minute. I cannot imagine living without someone to share my life, someone with whom to do everything and share the hours of nothingness. I met DH at a young age by totebag standards , we were both astute enough to recognize our fit, (we wrote out wedding guest list on the second date) married before college graduation . We both attended, graduated and survived grad school, professional school , fellowships , post docs and child rearing ( although the youngest is 11 so we are not quite done) Frankly I cannot imagine life without DH , so maybe I would be like my Grandpa who “failed to thrive” and died a year after Grandma.

  41. For the single women I know in long-term relationships, the best thing about cohabitation is splitting rent in our relatively high COL area. For them, marriage doesn’t bring anything to the table.

    Nor should it. We shouldn’t have to abide by these social conventions in this day and age. Marriage should be a choice – much like cohabitation is a choice. I”m not trying to boil marriage down to cohabitation, but why should so much hinge on one’s marital status?

    ” But for the majority of women who want kids, marriage is a better deal.”

    COC – why is that? Is it only for the joint parenting? What if the parents just lived together? Is it the assumption that a single mom doesn’t have a “village” to help her out?

  42. Milo – like LfB says, for men it is a plus: you add someone else to take care of the kids, house, household scheduling, and affection, companionship, and easily available s*x. Plus if you are divorced, you can have your new spouse handle the logistics of passing off the children mid-week.

  43. “I have a few friends who loved their jobs, and then, upon marriage (kids weren’t even in the discussion yet), said, “I’m going to be a SAHM when the time comes.” It never seemed like a fluid process, but a binary decision. I know for one woman, her husband definitely made that decision for her.”

    Or maybe they just didn’t love their jobs as much as you think. Because thinking of the typical guy’s perspective, when they’re well before kids, he’s more likely thinking that of course DW can keep working (because two incomes is nice) and the kids stuff will just sort of take care of itself. Unless your friends all married Duggar types, of course.

  44. “Milo – like LfB says, for men it is a plus: you add someone else to take care of the kids, house, household scheduling, and affection, companionship, and easily available s*x. Plus if you are divorced, you can have your new spouse handle the logistics of passing off the children mid-week.”

    Yeah, but you’re missing the point. Why is it so much easier for them to get remarried if it’s such a better deal for them?

  45. “so maybe I would be like my Grandpa who “failed to thrive” and died a year after Grandma.”

    Anon – this is something I think about often. Fundamentally, I know I could survive – I’m built like that. But I’ve been with DH for half of my life. We just fit. If we are lucky enough to get to ripe old ages together, I see this situation – one of us would just go right after the other. The house would be too lonely. I think, now, though, I’d have to go on – I couldn’t abandon my child because his dad isn’t there to hug the crappy day away.

    The thing that would suck the most – not having the shared knowledge with someone. Not being able to say a 2-3 word phrase that invokes my exact feeling/thought because it’s an “inside joke.”

    I think that’s why my parents became friends ~10 years after they divorced. They were together for 25-26 years – neither of them had someone in their life with the same cultural knowledge, who knew them

  46. I probably wouldn’t remarry *because* my husband is awesome.

    Studies have found that people who were happiest in their marriages are the quickest to enter new relationships after their spouse dies because they want to get back what they had.

  47. Yeah, but you’re missing the point. Why is it so much easier for them to get remarried if it’s such a better deal for them?

    Because they’re marrying younger, still-single women who don’t know what they’re signing up for?

  48. DD – there just aren’t that many great guys out there who would want to marry a middle-aged woman with 3 kids and a dog. Plus I don’t want any more kids and I don’t really want step-kids. So, I have to find a guy who doesn’the have/want his own kids but would love mine plus we have to be compatible and he has to meet a bunch of other criteria that I want? It is like finding a unicorn…

  49. My MIL tells the story of how my FIL showed up at *her* job and asked her manager to tell her to quit. This was after they were married but before they had kids. Her manager responded that he could not do that, she would have to quit on her own. Till today, MIL had a LOT of resentment that she became a SAHM and FIL didn’t go on to earn enough, so she never had a break from the manual household tasks. She says she had no idea how much her life would change after she married.

  50. milo – I think it is both a scarcity and a biology problem. I have a few late-30s/early 40s acquaintances who would like to marry and have children, but the window for having biological children is growing small. I suspect the widowed version of you or my DH would be very appealing to some of these ladies.

    In contrast, the single 40 year old men I know would not want to date or marry the widowed version of me, because they still have the option of marrying a younger woman and having kids with her.

  51. I am reminded of a line from Friends — Monica says, “Society tells women we should be married, and by ‘society’ I mean ‘my mother'”.

    I proved to my mother that I could get married and therefore am not worthless and pathetic. Well, at least along that dimension. So I don’t have to get married again. But I’d have a really hard time being FWB. I’d want to know where my friend was, and is he dating other women, and when is he going to call, etc. I’m just not good at being casual.

  52. DD – there just aren’t that many great guys out there who would want to marry a middle-aged woman with 3 kids and a dog. Plus I don’t want any more kids and I don’t really want step-kids. So, I have to find a guy who doesn’the have/want his own kids but would love mine plus we have to be compatible and he has to meet a bunch of other criteria that I want? It is like finding a unicorn…

    So it’s not that you wouldn’t want to remarry, it’s that you don’t think you would be able to find someone suitable. These are two completely different things.

  53. Right – someone suitable for my stage in life probably doesn’t exist. And I am not really interested in lowering my standards now as I don’t see that much benefit to marrying again.

  54. “because of $.”

    Cat, I agree. Not to paint (too many) women incorrectly, I think they’re looking out for #1 (and their kids as applicable), whether that’s to simply survive, or survive in a manner to which they have become accustomed. It’s well documented how hard it is to rejoin the labor force after time out to raise kids, or to ramp up hours in some cases, or to change from a “pin money/keep busy” job to a higher earning one.

  55. “Why is it so much easier for them to get remarried if it’s such a better deal for them?”

    What Cat and Rocky said. Plus the numbers are in their favor. Plus the kids are out of the house, which makes it a different deal (and most people are probably underestimating the effort that will be involved in caregiving).

    But I’ll turn it around: if marriage is such a good deal for women (and especially for those with kids, because you have two parents to share the burden), why are most of the women here saying they don’t plan to remarry, and certainly not until the kids are out of the house?

    Me, I’d remarry if I found the right person. I just think the bar would be set really pretty high. Which is sort of the point: I don’t need to remarry for economic security, so I can hold out for a guy who brings other things to the table, like someone who respects me and really wants to be a partner.

  56. I think you are comparing totally different situations, Milo. I know a few people who are on marriage #3. They marry, have young kids, and find that whole responsibility thing to be tough. They divorce. The men remarry, have family #2, and again find that whole responsibility thing to be tough. Someone is, for whatever reason, signing on to be wife #3. Usually someone younger, who sees the financial stability, and who thinks they will be the one to “change” said partner.

    I completely agree with LfB. I am married *because* my DH is awesome. There are some great men out there, and I think women marry them. But I think there are a lot more overgrown children out there who want to marry who don’t bring as much to the table. I have a friend who is a SAHM and her husband makes a good living. They have two kids, and she does that quasi-professional amount of volunteering. He plays video games after work until 2 a.m. and sleeps away most of the weekends. She runs almost a separate household for her & the two kids, and he buys and re-heats various frozen meals that he prefers for food and runs nearly independently in the same household. It works for her (I imagine), but if that were my option, I’d rather be single. It’s all what we’re comparing.

  57. Me, I’d remarry if I found the right person. I just think the bar would be set really pretty high. Which is sort of the point: I don’t need to remarry for economic security, so I can hold out for a guy who brings other things to the table, like someone who respects me and really wants to be a partner.
    …….
    I completely agree with LfB. I am married *because* my DH is awesome.

    This is my point. All of the women who are saying they wouldn’t want to remarry really mean you don’t want to marry a putz. But if you found another really awesome guy who accepts your kids and doesn’t want kids of his own, does his share of the housework, etc, you’d be thrilled to remarry. All the reasons given for not wanting to remarry come back to the point that you don’t think you would find someone good enough.

  58. And I am not really interested in lowering my standards now as I don’t see that much benefit to marrying again.

    What was the benefit to getting married the first time?

  59. “But I’ll turn it around: if marriage is such a good deal for women (and especially for those with kids, because you have two parents to share the burden), why are most of the women here saying they don’t plan to remarry, and certainly not until the kids are out of the house? ”

    This has always been a board of outliers, although I kind of agree with the “until the kids are out of the house” part. Also, what people say they’re going to do can be different from what they ultimately do.

  60. DD – I think that is the case for *most* women in almost all socio-economic groups. Most women don’t have a problem with marriage. They have a problem with potential partners. And as women get older, gain more assets (or don’t, but handle themselves and their kids on their own), and get on with life, marriage looks less appealing.

  61. I believe Cat referred to those men as “unicorns.” They’re out there, but I don’t think the great catch is in vast supply. I feel like the legal protections of marriage are useful for childrearing. But I’m done bearing children. If something were to happen to my DH tomorrow, I’d still probably want to be in some sort of long term relationship if I met the right person, but I wouldn’t want to deal with the risks of being connected to another person legally. I don’t see that piece of paper adding a whole lot to a relationship at this stage of my life. I fully accept that if this were to happen I might feel differently though. It’s really hard to predict how I’d react to something I haven’t experienced.

  62. What was the benefit to getting married the first time?

    I knew I wanted to be a mother and wanted to do it the traditional way, in a marriage

  63. I have been surprised by how many of my friends in the home country are single. At the time we were growing up there was the expectation that all of us would get married. That hasn’t been the case. Now, in the extended family, there are cousins guys (not gay) who for whatever reason are single. At first my parents’ generation was trying to match these people with partners but they have given up.

  64. DD – for me, sharing a (family) life together. Been there, done that. Can’t really replace it and start fresh.

  65. “What was the benefit to getting married the first time?”

    Legitimate children.

  66. DD– When I met my DH I was young, we both had no assets, and we were taking this leap together. I figured we’d either be a great fit and help one another, or this thing would be a colossal failure, and I would at least know I’d taken the risk on this fantastic relationship. I didn’t have much to lose. If I were to be back out on the dating market as a single mother of 3 kids, I wouldn’t want to give someone else the legal power to take on significant debt in a way that would affect my kids’ future, the right to half my income/retirement, etc. The list of risks is much higher now, *and* it affects my kids, not just me. The plan has always been “until death do us part.” If that ends up not reflecting reality, I think I’d be a bit jaded about thinking the paper meant anything other than, “hopefully forever, but if not, this is going to be really expensive and complicated.”

  67. This is my point. All of the women who are saying they wouldn’t want to remarry really mean you don’t want to marry a putz.

    Sure. And I will speak only for myself here. I think the odds are really long that I would find someone as good as DH. You know why? Because marriage is a marketplace, though most people don’t want to accept that fact. I’m not as young, thin, or sexy as I was in my younger days. So my market value is diminished. So who would have me? Someone with lots more drawbacks than my DH.

    Someone posted this video to her FB timeline today. I thought Uh huh, you just keep telling yourself that, sister. And maybe the tooth fairy will put a dollar under your pillow when your crowns fall out for the second time.

  68. “I suspect the widowed version of you or my DH would be very appealing to some of these ladies.”

    Well, I won’t be looking for any on this board, that’s for sure! ;)

    If I became a widower, I wouldn’t be in any rush to get remarried, just focusing on my kids. And I suspect I’d be seeing a lot more of my Mom and MIL, as I’m rather clueless about the gender-specific aspects of raising a DD.

  69. “This is my point. All of the women who are saying they wouldn’t want to remarry really mean you don’t want to marry a putz.”

    Widow here, Putz or Poldark:

    I don’t ever want to bury another husband.
    I don’t ever want to deal with another set of in laws.
    I don’t ever want to be a stepmother.
    I don’t ever want my kids to have to deal with a stepfather.

  70. “It works for her (I imagine), but if that were my option, I’d rather be single.”

    What Tulip said.

    I don’t think you can generalize too much, because it’s all about the individuals and the relationship. But even the best relationships have tradeoffs — we all have so many different parts of ourselves, and when you’re in a relationship, you tend to gravitate toward the parts that are closer to your partner’s. So you inevitably drift away from some parts of yourself, and you need to enjoy the other parts enough to make it worthwhile.

    To make a superficial analogy: I love Art Deco, DH really hates it; DH loves anything wood, I hate generic oak-and-brass matched sets and beige (his apartment decor). After some initial, umm, discussions (the word “butt-ugly” might have been involved), we discovered that we both love Craftsman. So now it is very easy to find house styles and décor that we both love, and it makes me happy to be in a space that makes both of us happy. But sometimes I see an Art Deco piece and think, damn, that’s *gorgeous*. I still wouldn’t trade DH for all the Art Deco in the world. But if someday he’s not here, I will go redecorate at least one room with pretty Art Deco things and enjoy the hell out of being able to have them to enjoy.

    And then if I meet a new guy, maybe he loves modern, and all my Art Deco stuff looks awesome, but now my Craftsman pieces look all fuddy-duddy. So he’d really better be a special guy to be worth giving that up. My biggest hope would be that he is. But I had an *awesome* 20+ years of Craftsman with DH, so the bar is set really high.

  71. What I’m missing now, and was really missing for the last few years of my marriage, is companionship of a sort that my girl friends cannot provide. Not just the physical, but someone who wants to hear about my day, who will just relax on the couch and watch TV or a movie with me, who can occasionally take care of the dog and make dinner if I’m tired or busy or not feeling well. But I don’t need or want to get married for that. And I’ll never intermingle finances with anyone again. Also, I hope & pray that my DD will not want to get married before she’s 30. I think my marriage ultimately failed because I got married too young instead of taking the time to get to know myself first.

  72. And I suspect I’d be seeing a lot more of my Mom and MIL, as I’m rather clueless about the gender-specific aspects of raising a DD.

    Ha ! This part has not dawned on DH yet. He’ll find out soon enough.

  73. I would totally want to remarry, if I could find a guy like my DH. He does the DISHES, every night! I hate doing dishes. And he takes the cars in for service, breaks down all the recyclables, fixes weird broken things around the house (the switch on DD’s ceiling fan light broke recently, and he got it going again) and deals with the tradespeople when we do outsource those jobs. I can also talk to him about stuff like hockey and computing issues in the evening while we eat dinner.

  74. My dad is seeing a close friend of my mom’s

    How do you feel about that, WCE?

  75. On a serius note, there is another reason I would want to remarry, or at least “shack up”. That is companionship. I have only lived on my own (no roommate, no kids, no sibs/parents, no boyfriend/DH) for 2 years of my life and I honestly hated it. I had a cat, but chatting with a cat isn’t the same.

  76. Am I the only one who finds it interesting that there’s a bunch of women talking about how few “good men” there are, yet most of you claim to be married to one?

    For those who say you wouldn’t get married again (which seems to be every woman here), would you date? Would you enter into an exclusive relationship? Would you cohabitate? How far would you go into a relationship?

  77. MM – that is why I think I might get remarried once the kids are out of the house. Until then, I think my kids and extended family life could keep me busy enough that I wouldn’t be too lonely. And once the kids are grown, my standards can be much lower; basically we have to like each other and be able to cohabitate together. I wouldn’t need someone who could be a good dad and I wouldn’t commingle money.

  78. ” I have only lived on my own (no roommate, no kids, no sibs/parents, no boyfriend/DH) for 2 years of my life and I honestly hated it.”

    I did for only seven months, and I felt the same way, even though I was hardly ever in my apartment (I recall the realization that I’d gone over a month without once seeing it in daylight). On Saturday afternoons, I’d do my laundry at a friend’s apartment just to have someone to talk to. And this was after I’d gotten settled in to the work/school program. I had actually moved in about a month before it started, due to a scheduling mistake, so I didn’t know anyone there yet and had nowhere to be every day. I could go three/four days without saying a word to a single person; I started hanging out at the pool in the hopes of finding someone to talk to who wasn’t either a waitress or a cashier.

  79. It is infinitely easier to find a good man when you are late twenties/early thirties and the men are single. Once you are late 30s/early 40s, the good men are snatched up. Every now and then one might be single. But they become unicorns.

  80. But they become unicorns.

    Picky unicorns, too, judging by my friends who are dating them. They’re just not sure that they’ll ever want a commitment again. And why should they? They’re surrounded by excellent options.

  81. For those who say you wouldn’t get married again (which seems to be every woman here), would you date? Would you enter into an exclusive relationship? Would you cohabitate? How far would you go into a relationship?

    Yes, I’m actually ready to date now (~1 year after the decision to separate), but not so much that I want to do the online thing. I’m just open to going out if a nice guy comes along or a friend wants to fix me up, not actively trying to find someone.
    Exclusive relationship – maybe
    Cohabitate – probably not until my daughter goes away to college

  82. Denver – all the good guys I know, including my DH, are married. Or 27! :) All the divorced guys I know are not prizes.

  83. Also – even my husband who is awesome isn’t nearly as awesome for wife #2. She has to either deal with a dead first wife/memory of me/our happy little family that is now devastated or divorced guy with an ex-wife. Either way more baggage, kids are involved and he is going to have to spend a lot of time/money on them. I am not sure I would marry that in round 2.

  84. “Am I the only one who finds it interesting that there’s a bunch of women talking about how few “good men” there are, yet most of you claim to be married to one?”

    I think there are many “good men” out there, but many of them are not the right man for me. I knew many really, really good guys in law school, who I am sure made someone a fantastic husband — but they had specific expectations about how life should be that did not coincide with my own wants (i.e., they wanted to be the sole provider and have a SAH wife).

    I also think we are talking past each other. I think that good marriages add to your overall happiness, and bad marriages take away from them — but “good” is defined by how well it meets the specific needs of the two people involved. My criteria for “good marriage” include someone who wants to share the load on both home and work fronts, who is proud of my accomplishments and who loves me because of who I am, not in spite of it. My impression here is that a *lot* of the men here feel *exactly* that way about their wives. Honestly, y’all would be an awesome dating pool, if you weren’t already hitched. But based on my prior dating experience, my criteria match about 10%-20% of my actual dating pool — and those guys would also have younger/more attractive models to choose from. I feel incredibly lucky to have found one I meshed with so well, and I doubt lightning would strike twice.

    So I would be very unlikely to remarry, because I am not willing to settle for someone who doesn’t meet my fundamental criteria, and I do not need to remarry for other reasons (economics, social acceptance, etc.).

  85. On MM’s point, I was talking with DS1 last week, discussing his living options when his lease is up at the end of May, and he said he might just get a studio apartment and live by himself. I said I wasn’t so sure that’s the best idea (although he’s not really ‘alone’…there is plenty of family within a 30 minute drive). I told him the longest I had lived alone was NEVER (always with a parent, at least one roommate, or fiancée/DW).

    And, although I currently usually outsource the dinner cleanup to DS3, I know I’ll be the one gladly doing that once he moves out in exchange for DW doing the dinner prep. I can do that, too, but she’s choosier and a better cook.

  86. All the guys, I knew who wanted marriage and a family, had already met their future wives in their 20s. They didn’t get married right away but we’re in commited relationships. My BIL was waiting for a girl to say yes – she didn’t. He was into his thirties when he made another attempt. My SIL was unmarried in her thirties at the time.

  87. “I think there are many “good men” out there, but many of them are not the right man for me.”
    “So I would be very unlikely to remarry, because I am not willing to settle for someone who doesn’t meet my fundamental criteria, and I do not need to remarry for other reasons (economics, social acceptance, etc.).”
    agree with lfb

  88. “Am I the only one who finds it interesting that there’s a bunch of women talking about how few “good men” there are, yet most of you claim to be married to one?

    For those who say you wouldn’t get married again (which seems to be every woman here), would you date? Would you enter into an exclusive relationship? Would you cohabitate? How far would you go into a relationship?”

    1) – we snagged them already, and, if they all died, then the pool of good men would deplete faster than it would replenish, based on the widow’s age, family status, etc. Unlike a lot of people here – I found my guy very young, and even after dating around a bit in college, realized no one else would put up with me. Or my aspirations.

    2) I would date. I would date exclusively, and would eventually cohabitate if that’s where things went. But, all this would happen at the speed at which DS would dictate (until he’s out of the house), and I would have to make sure that my finances remained separate. I wouldn’t want to mix finances with anyone again – DH and I have worked too hard to build what we have. Don’t think I want to share that. The guy would have to be very special to live with and/or marry. I just don’t think after 17+ years with one person, I would be ready for that any time soon.

  89. And, I would need someone to teach me how to be single again. Seriously, the last time I was single, we were dealing with George W running for president…

  90. I imagine that I would be incredibly stressed and lonely as a single parent. My life is infinitely easier having DH as my partner in child-rearing and household-keeping, and he is my main companion as well. We have grown together and set up our lives as a team. If I was suddenly responsible for everything as a parent and an adult running a household, it would be a huge burden and very stressful. For companionship, I have close friends, but it’s not the same as sharing your life with someone as a spouse. For male companionship, well, with working and raising a child on my own, I don’t know where I would even find the time. (assuming that this is not a divorce with joint custody) If I were widowed, I suppose DH’s family would probably help me out to a point, but not in the nitty gritty everyday.

    So, I suppose, I would want desperately to be married and have that partnership and companionship again, but like others, I fear that as a middle-aged single mom, it would be really hard to find someone. Guys my own age seem to be primarily looking for women 10-15 years younger than me, and I don’t know that I would want to marry a guy 10-15 years older. And I don’t think that I would need to settle out of financial necessity. I hope that I wouldn’t settle out of loneliness.

  91. I would want to remarry if I could. It’s seems unlikely – hard to imagine an intellectual peer, reasonably employed, likes small children. That part is not so rare – but he would also need to be looking to marry someone with three Small kids and not expect more.

    I lived alone for one year of my life. It was more than long enough. I much prefer a house full of clatter. DH is not the caregiver, and I think he would struggle without me. But he is engaged with the children, an excellent partner, and someone I choose every day. I hope he would remarry if I were no longer around. I agree that, in general, kids do better with two parents.

  92. I have a neighbor who moved in after a divorce with her two kids (who both have issues) and she is dating a guy pretty seriously now just a couple of years later. In fact, my other neighbors and I were just talking about how we never see her anymore and it seems like she’s sleeping at his house most of the time (she has the kids half the week and her ex has them the other half). For what it’s worth, he seems like a nice friendly guy and he seems good with her kids from what I’ve seen (who are definitely a handful). It will be interesting to see if they get married. No idea of his backstory (if he’s been married before, etc.). Anyway, if she can find a man in middle age that’s decent, I suspect there are more out there than you’d think.

  93. Atlanta – it just seems like so much energy to expend when you have children who could probably benefit more from it. I don’t think I want to worry about. I don’t want to worry about how my kids feel about him (and maybe his kids) and making sure the kids don’t feel left out or slighted and that he really has their best interest at heart and is going to stick around for the long haul. And I don’t want to stay somewhere else half the time. I am too old and lazy and set in my ways.

  94. On the flip side, I think the right remarriage is an awesome thing. It’s a pain to work through the combining families, etc. But my life was so much richer with my stepdad in it, and I can’t imagine not having my step-sibs and my niece and nephew. And as much as my first stepmom was, umm, a mixed bag, my half-bros and nieces and nephews are totally worth it (and, hey, I only had to be with her a few weeks a year). It makes the circle of people you love and who love you a little bit bigger.

  95. A lot of my single neighbors (by divorce) do eventually meet someone and get married again. I think that many of the women and men that I met when DD was in K/1st grade are already remarried or in a serious relationship. Approx 5 years later. I don’t think that most thought they would meet someone, but eventually they did. They all have young kids because I know them through DD, girl scouts, bus stop etc.

    We recently went to a wedding of two 50ish people, and it was a first wedding for both of them. They were in serious relationships with other people before they met, but they never married. They met and got engaged within a year because they just knew. I don’t think that either of them ever expected to get married at this point in their lives, so you really never know.

  96. ” But for the majority of women who want kids, marriage is a better deal.”

    COC – why is that? Is it only for the joint parenting? What if the parents just lived together? Is it the assumption that a single mom doesn’t have a “village” to help her out?

    For the joint parenting and the financial benefit.  It sounds as if you believe that for most children single parenting works out as well as having two parents in a committed relationship.  The data indicates otherwise.

  97. On MM’s point, I was talking with DS1 last week, discussing his living options when his lease is up at the end of May, and he said he might just get a studio apartment and live by himself. I said I wasn’t so sure that’s the best idea (although he’s not really ‘alone’…there is plenty of family within a 30 minute drive). I told him the longest I had lived alone was NEVER (always with a parent, at least one roommate, or fiancée/DW).

    This is the introvert/extrovert thing at work. I lived alone for about 7 years and I loved it.

  98. For the anon who said that you married to have legitimate children, I’m honestly wondering, why?

    I do not have the same name as my husband. Two of my children have my name, and one has his last name. I’m sure to many casual obsrvers, we are some kind of blended family. However, all my children are “legitimate”. Unless people are checking public records to see if we are legally married (we are), my children might appear illegitimate. I can’t imagine how that could ever matter. (Separate from the religious implications, but legitimacy is all about the law).

  99. I didn’t marry until my mid 30’s and my husband is great so he would be a hard act to follow. However, I too would want to remarry if I could but expect that may be hard to find someone who would meet all the right check-boxes for me and for me to meet all of his. I have small children, probably couldn’t have anymore given that I’m in the twilight of my fertility years and do not have the rocking body I had as a twenty something (though part of that is controllable in the sense that I could step it up in the gym) But I would be out there looking as life is lonely and can be hard without someone to share it with and though friends and family would fill some parts, they wouldn’t come close to that intimate relationship you’d get with a spouse. Yes it would be hard to blend a family but I see with my single parent friends that it can be harder alone and having all the responsibilities and no one to lean on.

    The issue with living together and not having a legally recognized relationship could be a factor. My FIL lived with his now wife for 7 years but when he went to update his will she was identified as a “friend” as that is how the state of Massachusetts legally saw her. It really got to him that she would only be recognized as a friend and they were married within a year.

    I would not do the FWB route. At the risk of being crass, the benefits I want would be all emotional and I could reach the other benefits on my own or flit off to Nevada to visit a professional who could prove they were “clean” and would have a better chance of knowing what they are doing!

  100. A lot of my single neighbors (by divorce) do eventually meet someone and get married again.

    This. I know a lot of people who remarried in their 30s and 40s and are extremely happy. There seem to be an awful lot of unicorns out there.

  101. I think there are many “good men” out there, but many of them are not the right man for me. I knew many really, really good guys in law school, who I am sure made someone a fantastic husband — but they had specific expectations about how life should be that did not coincide with my own wants (i.e., they wanted to be the sole provider and have a SAH wife).

    Besides the values, there’s the “spark” the makes day to day living with someone enjoyable.  And I don’t mean strictly sexual, but the “lovableness” and the other elements of compatibility.  I don’t think I’d want to marry or even live with a person unless it was the whole package.  IOW, I’m probably very picky.  And an introvert who lived alone and liked it.

  102. CoC – no. No assumptions. Just questioning the data.

    Single parenting is hard. And most single moms/dads are far worse off than married counterparts. But how does the data deal with cohabiting parents? I mean that 2 people never marry, but have kids together. In theory, the data treats her/him as a single parent (depending on who claims the kids). But that’s not the case.

    Are the cohabiting households worse off than married households?

  103. “For the anon who said that you married to have legitimate children, I’m honestly wondering, why? ”

    To break a family cycle.

  104. I would be hesitant to remarry because I would not want to take on the legal responsibility of providing for the long-term-care needs of my new spouse. Taking care of my current husband is one thing — we’re spending the best years of our lives together, we’re raising a family together, and we’ve made a home together. I feel like I really want to do as much as I can to make sure he is comfortable throughout his life, even if that means spending down our assets to do so. Taking care of a subsequent husband, however, would feel different to me, I think. And you can’t waive your obligation to provide for your spouse’s long-term care needs (to the point of reducing your assets to the point where your spouse would qualify for Medicaid) in a prenup.

    I have LTC insurance on both DH and me, but if DH died, his policy would die with him — it of course would not transfer over to a new spouse. DH and I are not wealthy enough that I am confident that I could provide long-term care for a subsequent spouse, and also take care of my children the way I want to take care of them.

    Unlike many of you, I spent many years living alone, and I really liked it. I’m not someone who gets lonely when I’m alone.

  105. “Are the cohabiting households worse off than married households?”

    The data I’ve seen indicates that a strong commitment is needed, so it’s more than just cohabiting. In some European countries marriage rates are low, but two parents committed to the family make for successful outcomes for the children.

  106. Well, I did get married again, but after my kids left home. My 4 kids were aged 11 to 19 when we divorced after a long period of marital deterioration, no assets to divide, and I was in my third year at Big 6 firm after 15 years out of the workforce. The work and family kept me busy enough, but after the youngest went off the college I got a new apartment, new furniture, started traveling all over the world for work, and did a little dating. I was not ready to be alone at age 48.

    We got married, and did not just live together even though that is financially more advantageous, because it had to be for keeps for me to feel right about it and secure. I know the saying that remarriage is the triumph of hope over experience. The ladies at the bridge club said, don’t get married, he’ll just get old and then you can ship him back to his children. (I do understand some of that thinking, now.) My daughters said, Mom, you’ve already been married, and added that they worried I would lose my lost and regained self again in a marriage. Of course my standards were “lower”- a handsome fit 58 year old attorney doesn’t need a chubby opinionated 50 year old wife with four kids (even grown ones out of the house) who wants to work at a 55 hour a week career for the next 15 years. But DH could carry his own bags financially, I didn’t need him to support me, just himself, and he said thank you every time I so much as made him a cup of coffee. That counts for a lot with me. And he does the dishes (new Miele dishwasher installed today). And we were like teenagers for many years. I never expected anything else out of my second husband on the shared work front. I grew up in a single parent household so learned to do all sorts of household tasks very young, and other than the years I didn’t earn money as a housewife I have always been responsible for everything. I was looking for a consort, not a co-sovereign, the second time around.

    My two girls are single ladies. My younger son is in a long term relationship complete with jointly purchased home. He is 33 and ready to be a father. His partner is 31 and clearly they are suited to be life mates. But she has things to do and places to see, at least for now. They would marry if they chose to have kids. He said, I don’t buy that not having kids is just as good as having kids. He was saying, it doesn’t seem that any promises I make about being the primary parent carry much weight. I had very gently to explain to him that women have a lot of contrary evidence on that point. I hope it all works out – he would be a great father.

  107. There seem to be a bunch of people on this site that are in successful second marriages too.

  108. I thought the data suggested that co-habitating is just as beneficial for kids as parents being married if (and this is a big if) the two parents act as though they are married (man gives lots of $ to kids, is around a lot, etc).

  109. “if (and this is a big if) the two parents act as though they are married”

    We may be making the same point, but just wording it differently. If the parents act as if they’re in a committed relationship (a marriage?) then it’s better for the kids.

  110. I don’t think dislike of living alone is soley an introver/extrovert thing. I can be pretty introverted, but I don’t like living alone. And I have a friend who is incredibly, totally introverted and who has lived alone most of her adult life. She has told me that she is very lonely and feels trapped – she doesn’t think she could deal with a relationship but she also has gotten to the point where she wishes she were not living alone. She has told me it gets harder and harder as you get older because people are dealing with their own lives and families and don’t really want to socialize a lot with the 55 year old single lady who lives with her cats.

  111. 2:28 was me. Sorry.

    COC – yes. I think we are saying the same thing. I read yours after I had posted.

  112. And here is today’s depressing thought: though many of us dislike living alone, the reality is that it is likely that many of us will end up living alone, in a phase of life when that becomes harder and harder. It makes me wish that close relations with extended families were more the norm. DH’s mom is 90+, and lives “alone” now that her husband died – but she lives in the same town with most of her kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and various cousin’s kids. She also still has good friends around from her working days, amazingly (many are 10 to 20 years younger). They are very close, and socialize with her constantly. She is rarely alone during the day – people are always stopping by or going out with her. I think old age in this country would be much more pleasant if we lived like that.

  113. “I don’t think dislike of living alone is soley an introver/extrovert thing.”

    I agree. It can be easier to be an introvert if you share a home with a compatible person who lets you be an introvert. And I sense that it may actually become easier to live alone as you get older if you’re around a lot of other single old people who are available for friendships and socializing. I’ve seen that.

  114. “there’s the “spark” the makes day to day living with someone enjoyable. And I don’t mean strictly sexual, but the “lovableness” and the other elements of compatibility.” — yes, exactly.

    I am an inveterate smart-ass who grew up with a lot of wordplay and irony and (good-natured) insults. With DD, two years go, any sort of comment directed to anything even tangentially related to her degenerated into a fight (e.g., we are watching Scorpion, DH cracks a joke about their realistic portrayal of science, DD yells that we’re “ruining” it and stomps out of room). It was total misery; we had polite chit-chat, how was your day, everyone walking on eggshells not to hurt feelings, etc. Today, a smart-ass quip on our part is met with either a “good one, mom,” or an even better reply, and we spend dinnertime laughing and having a blast.

    Me + the wrong guy = the “before” picture.

  115. Denver Dad, both sets of my graphdparents were in retirement communities. In both cases, the grandfather died first, and things became more lonely for the grandmother. A lot of those places are more set up for “younger” retirees who are still a pair.

    One grandmother ended up in an assisted living place which had activities and such. But it still seemed like a lonely place. I think DH’s mother is living a better life right now.

  116. I lived alone for 5-6 years (not all in sequence). I’d say that good roommates > living alone > neutral/separate lives roommates >>> unfriendly roommates. And it’s easier to have a good roommates situation when you’re around enough to plan things together, eat together, talk, so if you’re going to be a baby lawyer working long hours, you’re likely to have neutral roommates at best and it’s easier to be able to come home and have the place to yourself rather than come home and feel like you’re intruding.

  117. I should add that the ‘lived alone’ time doesn’t count the ‘lived with roommates’ time, which would be another 2-3 years.

  118. I think liking living alone can change over time, I loved living alone for a few years after college, but I had a busy job with lots of travel. Now after being married and having kids in the house all the time, weekends when they are at their dad’s are hard after the first day.

  119. I think I would love to live in a retirement community. I loved living in the dorms and a sorority house in college, I love when my mom, MIL or best friend visit and they tag along on errands and my least happy living situation was when I had a roommate who spent almost all her time at her boyfriend’s apt. I would love to have some sister wives now.

  120. I lived in student dorms with roommates as an undergrad, and in grad housing as a grad student (you lived alone in your own room, but shared bathrooms and tables/kitchen in the basement). When I took my first real job, I had a roommate who I got along with pretty well. I was working long hours, but when we were in the place together, we always liked to chat. After that, I did 2 years on my own in an apartment. Then I moved in with then-BF, now DH. Eventually, due to job changes, we ended up in a weird long distance relationship. We rented a house together, and I spent 4 nights a week there, and 3 nights a week closer to my job – but living in a room in a house filled with people. It was kind of the house-of-the-odd-people-between-relationships. I didn’t especially like any of them, but I liked the noise and chatter in the house. Eventually, jobs changed again and DH and I ended up in the same locale.

  121. I LOVE living alone! What gets me through Sunday nights with DD is knowing that she goes back to her dad’s house on Monday. I clean on Monday nights, and then enjoy a whole week of no crumbs, wrappers, etc. all over the house until she comes back the following Monday.

  122. SWVA – Friday nights when the kids and beagle are at their dad’s I do a mad clean up and relish the clean house for the rest of the weekend – but by Sunday morning I am missing the bustle of the kids in the house.

  123. As we have children together, but have not married, my perspective:
    1. No tax marriage penalty – two head of households.
    2. The pre-tax reimbursement account for day care was $5K per FAMILY, not married, we could each do the $5k
    3. He is significantly older than me and already showing some potential chronic health issues when kids came along. If married, we’d have to spend down all our money to get him medicaid covered. I’d be living off kids or in poverty for my retirement years.
    4. Honestly, if we were married and then divorced, he’d get more out of the divorce than I would.
    5. As we live together as a family – no one looking at us would see us as any different than a married couple.

    Regardless of the relationship type, if you are sharing household and transportation duties with another person it is easier. I know people who have kids and live with their parents because the parents have a larger house that they can’t really afford without a lodger, but don’t want a stranger and child needs lower cost housing or child care or child transportation, etc. It is a mutually beneficial relationship.

  124. Agree with HM’s prioritization. I had one good roommate match, 3 fine, one bad, and @ 7 years of living on my own (DH moved out here only @3 mos. before we got married). I did get lonely long-term, but in the short-term it sure is easier than navigating food choices/cleaning/etc. with other people.

  125. It has been over twenty years since I lived alone. Last summer DH and the kids were gone for a weekend. It was awful. By the second night I invited people over for dinner because the house was empty and sort of scary. I really didn’t like it.

  126. “She is rarely alone during the day – people are always stopping by or going out with her. I think old age in this country would be much more pleasant if we lived like that.”

    But would you have been willing to live forever in one place so that you would be near all of that family (assuming that they did the same)? DS married into a large family and recently moved to the small city where DIL grew up. Her parents, both sets of grandparents, siblings, most of the dozen aunts/uncles and dozens of cousins all live there. They can’t imagine even WANTING to live anywhere else. (Just as I can’t imagine wanting to stay in the place where they live, and greatly admire DS for being willing to move there.)

  127. No one in DH’s family moves away. We are the furthest, at 1 hour 45 minutes away. It is a big reason we stay in this area – DH would simply not be willing to be further away from his family. And I agree with him. I have barely any family left on my side so it is fine.
    When my mother was still alive, she was living on her own but with very close friends and BF who were around all the time. I was aleady looking into the future, and we had a plan that she would move up here when she got older and retired, since she loved the NYC area. Sadly, that never happened since she passed away before she ever retired.

  128. Cat hit the nail on the head – Sorority, cruise ship, if you thrive in that environment, you will like assisted living as a widow/elderly single. My mom loved being alone, and far from her family of origin. She was one of ten, 6 sisters, 2 rooms, 3 or 4 beds for the 6 of them. She was fine until 90 or so when frailty and cognitive decline became too much for her. She coped with assisted living, but never made friends. She didn’t really have friends, ever.

    I have been spending more time with women, single, widowed, long married. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I am not a fool. I need to build a circle now of under 75’s, and keep an eye out for people younger than I am as they retire.

  129. “I lived alone for about 7 years and I loved it.””

    Ditto, for close to the same interval.

    Were I suddenly single, I wouldn’t go out and try to find a new spouse/SO, but I would be open to meeting potential mates. My kids are old enough that they’d be out of the house in the time it would probably take me to get seriously into a new relationship.

  130. RMS, I’m happy for my Dad. He and his friend went to Florida for three weeks (and saw some other friends from church there) and at least for now, they like having their own residences. I don’t know (and I don’t think they know) whether this is a romance or a deep friendship, as my Dad deals with his grief. It came about because he and his friend’s sister had spouses who died within a month, and Friend talked a lot with my Dad and her sister about her own transition to widowhood about 7 years ago. My Dad has known Friend and Friend’s sister for ~40 years and they aren’t “exclusively dating” in the sense people are talking about today. All three of them may go out to dinner or a concert together, and that’s fine. His Friend is taking my Dad to his physical therapy appointments until he can drive after his hip surgery. My Dad would probably help both Friend and Friend’s sister with “manly” household tasks that they need help with. I don’t know if Friend and her sister might someday choose to live together.

    I think late-in-life relationships are different than divorce/remarriages early in life, because you have your grown children and grandchildren and that aspect of your life isn’t going to change. Sexuality is often a less important part of people’s human experience.

    All the people I listed above would choose to go to their own grandchildren’s high school graduations and let their partners go to their grandchildren’s graduations in the event of a conflict. That’s the sense in which first family loyalties never go away. But if there were no conflict, they’d probably cheerfully go along to the high school graduation.

  131. For all of you women lamenting the short supply of unicorns, I will reiterate a suggestion I’ve made before: engineers.

    I’ve gone over many times how engineers are good potential husbands and fathers. Many of them are single in part because of their nerdliness as well as going to college and working in environments with poor male/female ratios (from the male perspective).

    Over the years, I’ve known quite a few engineers with successful first marriages to wives on their second marriages, with kids.

  132. Over the years, I’ve known quite a few engineers with successful first marriages to wives on their second marriages, with kids.

    All the male engineers I know are married. So the singles ones are still unicorny.

  133. Finn, your comment reminds me of the last “potential engineer husband” analysis I did in detail, for my matchmaking project.

    I suggested my friend to Him via Facebook, and didn’t communicate with Him again till the wedding. He had asked me out in college (I declined) and we did ballroom dance together and were engineering partners. He knew I considered him a Good Friend.

    I warned her (divorced in a situation where her husband had an affair and wouldn’t end it) that He is intelligent and would be loyal and kind, and He would likely try to be a good father, but that He is NOT going to handle half the housework/kid stuff, despite his best intentions, because He has limited focus and work will always come first, unless He is facing a crisis like cancer or divorce.

    It turned out that His mother wants to move to the Bay Area with them, and will help with occasional babysitting for their hoped-for one child and She will have to run their household on top of her (scaled-down) career.

    She is happy with the plan, because after finishing her PhD and working for a few years (she was fast-track, he was slow-track and recently finished his PhD), she realized she was satisfied with a low/mid level MIT PhD career that she could balance with being a mother.

    But to LfB’s point, he’s no unicorn.

  134. Finn– To be fair, we aren’t exactly lamenting the lack of unicorns. I’m pretty happy with my DH. Just reporting that, having taken a look around, I feel like I have a fabulous spouse, and the bar would be pretty hard to find another one if something happened.

  135. I grew up in a nuclear family but we had all my extended family near by, some next door. Our house was a bustling place. However, as I grew I felt a lot of responsibility for this or that thrust upon me as a result of so much family around. I wanted to get away. DH is the opposite, he likes a house full of people but then he doesn’t have to take care of them.

  136. My husband and I were just discussing our desire to be near family and friends earlier today. His brother had another heart incident, and we need to go up there and help him get things sorted. He’s only 60, no savings, in bankruptcy after ugly divorce, so cannot possibly stop working. We have no ties here at all – the various good friends we’ve had over the years have moved away. I would love to be able to help my parents as they age, but we have jobs here and the economy there is bad. If DH gets laid off from his oil industry job, though, I think he’s through with Houston.

    OT, I think I would eventually like a partner again if I were in the circumstance and found a good match. I’ve had a happy life with my husband, and could presumably create a happy life again in my future. For reasons others have mentioned, I’m not sure if that would include marriage with prenup or cohabitation. I also like living alone, so the “right” person for me is someone who has hobbies he pursues. I’m not making somebody lunch and dinner every day in my retirement.

  137. MBT said
    “I’m not making somebody lunch and dinner every day in my retirement.”

    In contrast, the right person for me would let me make him dinner every night, or at least cook along with me. One of the things I love most about living with my family is being able to cook for them. I would miss that so much on my own

  138. I’m not sure that I would remarry, but then again I just don’t know how many prospects I would have. Men my age (early 50’s) could go out with women 40-50. I could date guys a few years younger to 10 years older, but I had kids at a relatively young age (for my city), so mine are 21+, but many people my age still have tweens and teens. I can’t imagine being a stepmom to teenagers! Of course, if I met the right guy, I’m sure I’d figure out how to make it work.

    If I did remarry I would have to make sure that all of my assets (the ones we have right now) would go to my kids and not to my second husband if I were to die first. I guess that is pretty easily managed with trusts and prenups?

    I enjoyed living alone, and have only had two roommates in my life (besides siblings): one all through college, and then DH. I lived alone for 3 years after college and loved it. I had a job that involved a lot of talking and many people all around – and it was lovely to come home to a nice quiet apartment. If DH is out of town now (no kids at home) I am fine for the first few days, but then I have to start writing down all of the things I need to remember to tell him when he returns!

    Louise – that would drive me crazy! What would happen if you “took a trip” the next time you have a houseful of your DH’s family?

  139. When DW and I first married, she went to a couple evening social events for the officers’ wives organization (since submarines were not yet integrated, and DADT was still in effect, Wives it was). From a few of them, especially older ones, (but certainly not all, I should note) she got the not-so-subtle impression that their marriages very much relied on the frequent separations and deployments. She came home in tears saying “I don’t want us to end up like that.”

  140. MBT – DH is pretty much retired, and when he is around he is always wondering what we are going to have for lunch! I am used to a pb&j sandwich or leftovers (that aren’t to be used for dinner) – I am not making another meal!! He seems a little puzzled by this!!

  141. “he likes a house full of people but then he doesn’t have to take care of them.”

    Funny how there seems to be a correlation between these two things. :-)

  142. Milo – Growing up in DC I knew a fair number of naval officer’s wives, often from navy families themselves. That is exactly how they felt. They enjoyed the autonomy of being allowed, actually expected to run everything, make key decisions, and in that day have the independence of action usually only permitted to widows with money, while still having the status of wife and being home to supervise the kids – the key skill was letting him run (or think he was running) the household when at home. They advised women who were not happy with that sort of independence or not competent to handle money matters, know when to fix things and deal with tradesmen, etc., not to sign on for that life – it was not good for the family if she was lonely without her husband or unable to function without support/direction.

  143. So my best shot for finding a unicorn is to find a single engineer? This just confirms that I will never remarry. I have never even been asked out on a date by an engineer or engineering student. I can’t remember the last time I ran in to an engineer. If this comes to fruition, I shall live as a spinster and join the retirement community as soon as I qualify.

  144. I used to work with lots of software engineers (that was the title used), who were virtually all guys – but they were also all married or in committed relationships. Many had kids

  145. ssk – easy enough to set up if it ever comes to that. The assets that come into the (re)marriage are maintained as separate assets, especially important to specify in a community property state, over which you maintain control. That’s how my mom has it set up. Certainly not a unique situation.

  146. Meme – speaking of Conroy, that sounds like “The Great Santini,” even though it’s more of a boy’s coming-of-age story.

  147. You can’t do the Hokie Pokie and turn yourself around in my town without bumping into an engineer. I’m happy to host any widowed or divorced totebaggers who would like to try to meet one!

  148. Happy Pi Day. MIT has announced admissions decisions today, as is their tradition. Decision season will be in full swing soon.

  149. If I did remarry I would have to make sure that all of my assets (the ones we have right now) would go to my kids and not to my second husband if I were to die first. I guess that is pretty easily managed with trusts and prenups?

    Yeah. DH and I have it set up so that when one of us dies, the other one can’t squander all the assets on the new spouse, but must leave whatever we’ve got to DSS. Sometimes…I wonder if that’s really what I want. But it’s close enough. I can be an idiot and would be likely to piss money away on a ne’er-do-well in an attempt to “save” him.

  150. I had to protect DSS so that he gets his fair share of DH’s (a musician by temperament and secondary vocation) assets, including eventually half the value of the marital home, which still allowing me to live there as a widow as long as it pleases me to do so. DH has no clue how these things work. I have too many descendants for any one to get more than fun money when I die, but that is okay, too.

  151. I’ve waited all day to reply here (and have been fascinated by you all’s comments.)

    Losing a spouse who you happened to love is a total bitch. For me it was devastating. I think I was emotionally catatonic for years. I will still tear up when I talk about my wife.

    I do not like being a single parent. My son has given my life purpose, but I cannot be a mother to him as much as I try. A mom is a mom, kids, and a good one a godsend. I feel guilty that my son doesn’t have a mom– he did once– but he doesn’t now. Many years ago, when this site was new and curated by Whole Frilly Corset, or whatever her name was (I still adore you Laura!), I wrote a post asking if any of us would remarry. I said I wouldn’t, not while Junior is still around because he became my one and only priority, which he remains. I still wouldn’t remarry while he is around.

    But over the years I’ve become quite compatible with a woman who unless I do something, I suspect I will ultimately marry. I am not sure that would be good. I also currently have a crush that I am sure will embarrass all of you. (I think I know you all well enough by this time that I can tell you about it, red-faced as I may be, so you’ll probably see a post from me soon.)

    But I remain wounded. I miss my wife tremendously. I may have glorified her in my own mind beyond any reality whatsoever, but you’ll never get me to believe that.

    But my point is that no matter how much advance notice you have, losing a long-time spouse is tough. For those of us who get to that bridge, who knows what our future holds?

  152. PTM,

    Thank you for your willingness to share your perspective on this board. Your posts are much too infrequent, but always worth reading. Your wife was surely every bit as wonderful as you say, and your current compatible woman no doubt regards you as the mensch you clearly are. And so would your crush, if she only knew….

  153. PTM has moved on from dying on a yacht in a cloud of blow with skank hooker.
    Progress, indeed.

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