It’s not. While I certainly could do this, as there is plenty to say along these lines, this blog is actually about the opposite.
Here’s the deal. I’ve been divorced now, what, some four plus years. There are lots of things I learned from this, and am learning. Here are a couple of observations that distinguishes the single life from the married one. I think these observations are summed up in the word lazy.
If you are lazy, then marriage is for you.
Now, I know that sounds unfair and it is to some degree. But, follow me on this one anyway.
Here are a couple of observations about human nature. One, we’re creatures of habit. Two, consistent with the first axiom, we tend to persist in a course of action until we are forced out of it. Call these features of human behavior the psychological equivalent of Aristotle’s inertia or Newton’s first and second laws of motion.
The bottom line? We develop ways of thinking and acting at quite an early age and continue to use these ‘tools’ as adults, and often well past their usefulness or effectiveness. It is done in the name of cognitive efficiency, but we could just as well call it laziness. We don’t really want to re-think stuff.
My ex and I stayed in a marriage for thirty years. I can make the case for the virtue of such an accomplishment, but I think there was less virtue in the actual living of the thirty years than I care to admit. You get into a relational rut that adds predictability to life, which is a real benefit. But, it also masks a lack of integrity of the people trying to exist in the relationship as it has evolved.
There’s no doubt that having a specific long-term someone for day-to-day living is easier to deal with than trying to figure out the nuances of a new person each week. There is a certain security about that, a comfort zone. However, it isn’t long until you don’t think you have to pay all that much attention to it – it’s on autopilot like so much of the rest of life.
That is good, and bad.
Within this comfortable ‘situation’ lay the seeds that can destroy it. It is natural and thus easy to have this happen. It is also pathetic and sad.
We’ve all watched relationships that are more a product of inertia than desire, of convenience than passion. You may be in one right now.
Because marriage is still an arrangement that has considerable legal and psychological permanency attached to it (though less evident these days), the bias in behavior is to stay in it. The tendency to become sloppy and presumptuous seems to increase with time, however.
We don’t ask our partner if it is okay if we get a beer belly or a wide butt, or don’t ‘clean up’ on weekends, or if it is okay if we become less thoughtful in our talk, dress, and behavior; we just do it and expect our partner to ‘accept us just the way we are.’ Do we allow such shenanigans to happen in the work place?
In sum, we become lazy. After all, it takes work to get in shape and keep in shape, physically, mentally, and spiritually. And this is especially so as we age. It takes effort to remain fresh and up-to-date and interesting – in conversation, appearance, and as sexual beings.
In fact, in more ways than we may be willing to admit, it was this lack of attention, this lack of commitment to continuous improvement, which contributed to the relationship’s demise. We got sloppy and the result is what we deserved.
One of the first things a newly-single person realizes is how ‘out of it’ they have become. They are aware that they sort of ‘let themselves go’ in the previous relationship and that now as a product back on the market, they need to clean up their act. If they wish to be valued in the singles market (not a very kind world to begin with), they realize that they have to invest in being the best they can be and even then, there is no guarantee that things will work out.
I gave attention to and spent money on my appearance first, it was the easiest. I looked at my hair (what was left of it), and style (not my strongest suit), asked for advice on the glasses I should buy to the best clothes for me to wear from a woman who seemed to have a pretty good sense about such things. I invested in anti-aging crèmes prescribed by my dermatologist and had a mole or two removed. I became more disciplined in getting in better physical condition. I moved toward eating better.
I spent time examining the inner man as well. It takes much more effort. I observed my relational style, my use of words, my emotions, and behavior around women. It is a work in progress, to be sure.
Why we have to wait until we are ‘on the street’ to do this is a bit perplexing. But we only know this when we’re in that reality. Many men will not invest in their resurrection – they more-or-less withdraw. It's too much work.
I want to be able to say that I have as a single man become much more attentive to the kind of man I am and am trying to become, and in communicating the kind of relationship I’m willing to have with a woman. Of course it is different for each woman. Sometimes it's just confusing. But I’m working at being less sloppy, presumptuous, and reckless with the hearts of others. While midlife singles are big boys and girls, we’re still very vulnerable to sloppy relational habits.
Staying in a relationship probably takes less effort than trying to make new ones. I guarantee it takes more effort ‘on the street’ than it does to take care of the one you already have ‘in the house’.
While there is no shortage of laziness among single men, the single lazy man really only hurts himself. That can’t be said for the same person in a marriage or long-term relationship.
About the Author: Master Hobbit