Choosing to stay single may not meet others’ expectations, but for me, it’s for the best.
“It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him,” Genesis Chapter 2: Verse 18.
Once again, I endured another Valentine’s Day. This so-called holiday continues as my big sister’s birthday and nothing more. Dear God, I want to remain single forever. As Billy Joel sang, “I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life. Go ahead with your own life and leave me alone.”
For a Southern guy, to stay single into his forties is simply unacceptable to his family. As a guy without a wife, I may as well be an alien from outer space. While visiting family while in college, I received a not so subtle message from my mother when she said, upon my arrival home, “Grandchildren now!” Marriage is right of passage that my relatives expect when making the transition into adulthood. It is an important element of our society’s cultural DNA.
Families serve as the cornerstone of our country’s stability. The research regarding the benefits of marriage has inundated the popular media; there seems to be an endless number of scientifically proven reasons why we should marry. Studies have shown that getting hitched is good for men’s health. Married people outlive their single counterparts, and married men earn 10 to 40 percent more than similar unmarried ones. The facts overwhelm me and I cannot stand to look at another report or paper. The road to romance has advantages because romantic prowess leads to survival of the fittest.
Love is a Darwinian minefield. For some of us, there is no happily ever after or harlequin storyline. Like any other conflict, there are victors, villains, and victims. For some of us, it is very rare to hear the romantic bells and whistles. There is no one plucking a harp or playing a saxophone to set the tender mood. There is no lady in my life frolicking through a meadow like a ballerina from the Washington Ballet. Life strips away all of the dreamy, starry-eyed delusions that can cloud one’s mind.
I do not want to elicit anyone’s pity. I wish I possessed talent as a virtuoso in wooing women. Regardless, pity is the last thing I want. Pity is 95 percent contempt and five percent sympathy. I would rather have your indifference. Nothing substitutes for a woman’s comfort or company. And yet, I will gladly surrender to my solitude, before being bombarded with pity. Anyway, I find this whole situation very suffocating. I need my sphere of personal space.
Speaking of transitions, I am alone but seldom lonely. On a daily basis, I put up with enough noise pollution and rude behavior that seclusion becomes a sanctuary. When I get home and close that door, I decompress from the insanity that takes place outside. The combination of reading, eating red meat and listening to classical music provides solace and great amounts of therapy. I just want to stay in a safe place, so I can be myself.
Marriage is not for everyone. And despite my skepticism, I am the greatest witness to the power of love, marriage, and relationships. Beyond the flowers, cards, and candy, marriage binds a man and woman forever. This most remarkable institution encourages essential values: courage, patience, commitment and unwavering devotion. Beyond the romantic melodies, relationships involve supporting and challenging that special someone with all of their good and bad attributes, through all of their ailments. Marriage requires selflessness and sacrifice.
As life moves on, I can work on becoming a better son, brother, uncle, and friend. When I feel overwhelmed, I can always call upon family and friends. They have forged my community, which provides supportive camaraderie. In life, calm and blissful survival is about finding the beauty in the darkness. Sometimes, you can find the sublime in both the shadows and the sunlight.