Monday, 25 June 2012

This Is Not About Finding Husbands

I fear I've been neglecting Serious Singles of late.

As you know, I mentally think of Singles as Searching Singles, Singles who don't want to be Single but Married, and Serious Singles, Singles who enjoy being Single, prefer celibacy and look forward to a long life of single blessedness.

The second group is usually more tranquil than the first, which is one reason why I don't think of them as often. However, it is wrong to neglect them completely. For one thing, they are often good role models for happy living of the Single life. And for another, they are irritated by the idea that there is something wrong with them for just enjoying being Single. They deserve support, encouragement and references to Saint Paul.

During one homily I've heard, a diocesan vocations director, a priest, complained about the various married people who had looked at him with big pitying eyes and said, "It's such a shame you can't get married." He didn't like feeling pitied, and he thought their attitude cheapened his celibacy and devalued his priesthood. He actually liked celibacy and never wanted to get married, but he found it very hard to convince these happy married people of this.

(Happy people are often unimaginative about happiness. Happy married people think everyone who isn't married must be miserable, and happy priests thinks every young man should think about the priesthood, and happy Catholics pity Protestants, and happy writers encourage young men at parties to write their first novel before they are 25 so as to get maximum publicity.)

I received an email from a reader working in some remote spot who just wanted permission to stay home and not have to go out and find a husband. There was
no-one eligible in town, and when people in town, eyes glistening with sympathy, asked her if she had found anyone, she would point out that there was no-one in town for her to find. And the townspeople would think about this and conclude that she was right. I cheerfully gave her permission just to stay home.

Even Searching Single girls can stay home and veg if that's what you want to do. My now husband found me because I spent quite a lot of time blogging and writing funny stories. I literally did not have to leave my room. And when I did leave my room, it was to visit readers in the UK, not to buy clothes and meet cute new boys, which led one of my best friends to conclude I didn't really want to get married, "and that's okay."

Listen, girls, if God wants you to get married, you'll get married. Don't go to that stupid party if you really don't want to go.

By the way, I'm talking to girls here. Searching Single Guys should be out there meeting girls. It's okay for Searching Single girls to slump in front of the TV and feel bad because they aren't wildly popular, but it's not okay for Searching Single guys. Most women make daily efforts to look more attractive; most of us, for example, put on lipstick. So it is not really all that much to ask when we ask Searching Single men to improve whatever it is that needs improving and get back out there. Girls like manly guys. Getting back out there is manly. And if you really, really hate "out there," think about marrying your slavishly devoted secretary.

But back to Serious Singles. Being married to a relatively young and healthy guy, it will probably be a long time before I am Single again. I hope so because I am rather fond of B.A., and it would suck if he just went and died on me. But trying to see life from a Serious Single perspective, I can see how good life can be when you make all the decisions and there is nobody there to tell you you can't have a pony or a pot-bellied pig or a pug. (By the way, I finally have a pet. It is a sour dough starter named Herman. Every day I get to mix Herman, and he eats only once every four days.)

For me, trying to imagine myself as a Serious Single, the most important factors in my life would be family and friends. Not all Serious Singles would agree, of course, as some are rather hermit-like, and for some much more important are work and prayer. But I would be conscious that the two great temptations for Serious Singles (and Singles in general really) are (A) becoming isolated and (B) doing everything for everybody out of fear that if I don't somebody won't like me.

Family and friends would thus be very important, both for company and for more-or-less unconditional love. I would be lucky in that I already have lots of Serious Single friends, and really the hard part would be convincing nervous confirmed bachelor friends that I wasn't merely hunting down Husband Number 3.

This blog, like my book, has never been about finding husbands. It has always been about appreciating and living the Single life as happily as possible, and the Single life includes friendships and dodgy old dating, which is why I write about them so much. But I honestly don't think it is a woman's job to go out and find a husband. I think it is a man's job to go out and find a wife. And therefore I am never going to write a book called "How to Find a Catholic Husband" even though my own Catholic husband would love the money it would bring in. Ka-ching!


Sarah said...

My priest and I had a long car ride to Ulm together this weekend, and vocations were pretty much all we talked about. Apparently, he also gets the "It's so sad that you can't get married!" thing, which doesn't so much annoy him as puzzle him, because he doesn't find marriage appealing at all, and jokes that he feels sorry for those who are married or hope to be married someday.

But then we got onto the topic of unconsecrated singles. It had never occurred to him that it might be a vocation some people would be happy in.

Father: Well, someday when you get married...
Me: You mean, IF I get married...
Father: 'If' because you're worried you won't find a husband, or 'if' because you don't want to get married?"
Me: No, I would like to get married. But I don't think it should be something taken for granted like it definitely WILL happen. Cause it might not. Lots of people just never find anyone, and they find other things to make them happy.

He ultimately agreed with me, but he acted as if he had never heard that point of view before.

BTW, I very much prefer Neuer or Mueller to Schweinsteiger. Neuer is still unmarried (there's still hope!) Not sure about Mueller, though.

Anonymous said...

But trying to see life from a Serious Single perspective, I can see how good life can be when you make all the decisions and there is nobody there to tell you you can't have a pony or a pot-bellied pig or a pug.

I finally have a pet - a cat, my furry bequest from my beloved grandfather. Good thing there isn't an allergic husband around to veto the presence of the PussPuss.


Mustard Seed said...

I thought Searching Single girls were supposed to try really hard to not slump in front of the TV, and that being slumpey over a lack of men around was the opposite of seraphicness. I'm not being sarcastic or anything, but sometimes the overwhelming feeling of resignation is difficult, so I'm wanting to know more about this (selfishly, as I know the topic of this post is Serious Singles). What about that writer who said "Ladies, unless you want to marry the UPS guy, you gotta get out there"?

Jam said...

I like the sound of Herman. Having lived with various roommates' dogs and cats, he sounds charming. Just my speed.

Seraphic said...

But you don't gotta get out there. You don't gotta get married. And you might want to marry the UPS man anyway. Is he a cute UPS man? Is he married yet? Does he have a girl in all the other offices?

Seriously, though. Just live your lives. Go to work, go to classes, got to Mass, go to events that interest you. Try to get your thoughts published. Try to see men as interesting potential friends first and as interesting potential husbands second. If you keep going to parties when you spend the whole time wishing you were home, stop going to parties. You don't have to be "on" and "out there" 16 hours of the day, every day.

Honestly, it's okay to take time out to just be you alone with you, or you alone with God, to be more accurate. If you never leave the house and are becoming agoraphobic, okay, then you have a problem.

I keep thinking of all the things I could have done instead of going on dates, etc., if I had known I would meet Mr McRight when I was 37. However, there's no point crying over lost time.

But on behalf of Searching Singles, I'm thinking up some fishing allegories since, you know, the fish kind of come up to the fishers. Not even the keenest fisherman stands out in the middle of a river 24/7 waiting for the fish.

Actually, if I went fishing, I would go only where I knew there were a lot of fish, and only at the time of day I'd heard they were biting, and I'd just sit on the bank with my very best lures and wait for the fish to come up to me.

I might avoid places where I knew there were a lot of other fishers, or where new fishers were in danger of being thrown in the water by the old, established fishers.

One thing for sure. I think it might be a good idea, when you are thinking about whether or not to go to a party, to go to the party of popular, pretty friends younger than yourself and stand around with a can of beer or premixed G&T and see if any older guys around talk to you. But if you don't wanna go, don't, don't, don't.

Hmm. Maybe I should start doing experiments... I could show up alone at various events around town in the same outfit, count how many men hit on me, and then report back. I don't know if B.A. would think this a really super idea, however.

MichelleMarie said...

The rub is: know thyself. Attaining some serious self-knowledge is one of the luxuries of being single for so long. For example, I KNOW that I usually feel better when I drag my butt out - to parties, rock-climbing, young adult groups, etc. I usually really really really don't want to go, but I know intellectually that it will, like a mathematical formula, spit out the result of me feeling a whole lot better then being slumpy in front of the TV. It's the whole connecting to reality thing that I personally need; also, maybe I'm getting more extroverted as I age or something.

But absolutely, the point of all my outings is never to meet men. It's to have fun, gain knowledge about myself and other people, connect, keep other people company, give the gift of myself.

But I know some rooted in reality, down to earth girls who do fine being "slumpy" in front of the TV. They knit, they bake, they do other home-oriented activities and in that way they give the gift of themselves. Those are things I can't do at the moment (maybe one day).

There is absolutely a danger of spreading yourself too thin - so this is just a long-winded way of saying that I agree, Seraphic. You really don't have to go to that party, do that volunteer opportunity, go to that young adult group - at least not EVERY time. Set yourself a limit, pare down to what you find fun and enriching. It is taxing to make yourself do things that you don't want to do, for no really good reason (even if you end up having fun or feeling good afterwards). That's why I limit those kind of taxing activities (the ones that I really really really don't want to do) to maximum one a week.

not a minx, a moron, or a parasite said...


n.panchancha said...

"Happy people are often unimaginative about happiness." - I love this; it sounds like the opening line of a slightly saucy 19th century Russian novel. :o)

Adam's rib said...

Seraphic, you have a sourdough starter? This is great! I am just about to begin my own starter no.2. Starter no.1 died and was buried by my housemates after long disuse. How is Herman progressing?

berenike said...

Anna Karenina, in fact :)