Put a Ring on It? Maybe Not!

Beyonce with Justin Timberlake and SNL cast members parody Single Ladies dance: https://pin.it/f4rgczckaexise

Do all the single ladies want a ring on it?

In Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” she sings about her ex, who is  jealous because she was with a new man. She tells him it was too bad for him because “if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.” The snappy song and accompanying  video went viral. It was even hysterically parodied on Saturday Night Live with Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.

The song became almost an anthem for single women. Or did it?

There is a rise in the single population, and not just because millennials all want to live with mom and dad forever. They don’t. What they want is to be happy – and don’t see marriage as the only way to be happy.

A new report from Mintel’s Single Lifestyles UK reveals that “61% of single women say they are happy with their relationship status, compared to 49% of single men. Overall, it appears that unattached Brits are in no rush to find a partner. As many as 70% of singles in the UK say they have not actively tried to find a partner in the last 12 months*, rising to 75% of women.”

Why??

Maybe those women watched too many friends and colleagues trade in their careers and carefree and happier ways to become wives. Maybe they are learning something I learned after seeing so many of my girlfriends leave their personalities at the altar: as those women settled into marriage, they weren’t particularly happy with the direction of their lives. They realized that the “happily ever after” stuff we hear is the stuff of fictional and advertising.

Also, today’s smart and savvy women have more opportunities and choices. They can get credit, buy a house, and easily travel alone – often resulting in amazing adventures.

That doesn’t mean single women don’t want marriage. They do. For several reasons, once of which is the fear being lone and dying alone. More importantly, they also know, from an economic standpoint, two incomes pays the rent and the utilities much more easily than one.

At the same time, today’s single woman – especially if she’s a bit older – used to making her own decisions, She comfortable doing things her way. She isn’t interested in giving up her “SELF” to become an appendage to someone else. She also has no interest in being told what to do or having all the household responsibilities dumped on her.

Instead, today’s single wants to be with a partner – someone who will split the responsibilities and leave her some space for the freedom to grow into her own bigger picture. It isn’t a easy expectation or a stress-free choice to make.

How do you know marriage will be a better choice than single?

I must have been ahead of my time! Like today’s single ladies, I really wanted to have a love relationships and a partner. I was ready for it. What I wasn’t ready to do was give up my hard-won independence. So, when Joseph said he wanted to get married, it was a really hard decision.

First, I came up with the Five-Year Marriage®.

Then, I launched a dirt-simple “formula” for safeguarding my SELF. It’s one basic question: “Am I happier now than when I was by myself?”

I use this question to assess just about everything in my relationship. I ask it sometimes in a meandering way, like while enjoying a long walk. Other times it would be after Joseph and I had a fight and I was trying to calm down and sort things out.

If the answer is “no” then I figure out why not. Then I bring it to a Family Meeting and discuss it. Sometimes I don’t even wait for the Family Meeting.

That’s a measure I use, and it might be one you like too. If you do, get into a habit of using it.

If that question doesn’t work for you, find another simple but overarching question that’s meaningful to you. It should be short and sweet but powerful enough to push a couple of your internal buttons. The more you know how you  feel and the faster you recognize and articulate it, the better chance you have a fixing it – and doing it before it festers into a serious problem.

Before all the single ladies put a ring on it, get some safeguards in place for your SELF.

Learn more tips in The Five-Year Marriage®: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm.

Worried About Being an “Old Maid”

Last spring I read an interesting article by Cooking Light’s Amanda Polick about being older and not married. It’s what old timers would have called an “old maid.”

I thought about it today. A colleague introduced me to a smart and savvy victorious woman. She wanted to know more about the Five-Year Marriage™. We talked for a short while. Then she asked me what advice I have for single women who want to get married.

I understood her anxiety from my single days. There were so many weddings! And I was a bridesmaid seventeen times!

During the reception, invariably someone asked why wasn’t I married. Sometimes they made me feel like there was something wrong with me.

Of course,  when I answered, I put on a brave face. Sometimes I explained that I hadn’t found the right one yet. Other times I laughed and said, “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t date. I did, but not a lot. When I did, I couldn’t seem to make the connection last long enough to even wonder if he was “the one” for me. Friends told me I was too picky and too fussy. They said I had to make compromises.

However, as time marched on, many of the people whose weddings I attended started getting divorced; they were the lucky ones. Too many friends didn’t get divorced but should have. That wonderful man who was once the man of their dreams turned out to be a nightmare to live with every day…year after lonely year.

Over time I started to realize that marriage wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. My focus changed and I decided to work on being the best me, without a man. I developed a new attitude (thank you Patti LaBelle).

So, when the younger woman asked for tips on getting married, the first thing out of my mother was, “Remember it’s better to be an old maid than wish you were one.

That wasn’t all. Here is the rest of my advice:

  • Be who you really are. Like attracts like and, when you work on being your best self, you will attract the best person for you.
  • Find your personal happiness. For me, coming from a strict and old-school Italian family, it took a very long time for me to touch into my personal power. Step-by-step, for years, I worked on feeling empowered within myself (versus seeking validation from others). A ”shining star” moment came when I bought my first house. I was the first woman in my generation to do that without first being married. It was a BIG deal.
  • Take a deep breath of gratitude. I was engaged to a guy, Jimmy, when I was twenty-two. I broke it off, but I was devastated. A few years later a heard he married. A year or two later I ran into his brother and his posse in a bar down the shore. They were ebullient when telling me I should be so glad I didn’t marry Jimmy. Apparently he was a serial cheater.
    When I heard that, I was so grateful. All I could think was “but for the grace of God go I.”

So, whenever you feel frustrated because you haven’t yet found “the one” yet, be grateful. Think about the guys you dated that you didn’t marry and remember: It’s better to be an “old maid” than wish you were one.