New research out in the newspapers this week stated that women are happier being single when compared to men. To most of us women, this might come as a no-brainer, because hell, marriage is tough work and damn if we’re going to pick that wet towel off the freshly made bed over and over again until we’re living out a Groundhog’s Day redux.
Data from a study by data analysts Mintel, suggests that 61 per cent of single women are happy being single, versus 49 per cent of single men. Most single women perhaps know they’re onto a good thing, with 75 per cent of them reporting not having actively looked for a relationship over the past year compared with 65 per cent of single men. Interestingly, this research was not done in our country, where the entire extended extended family and biradari huddles into the war room in order to ensure that the happy singleton, is coaxed /emotionally blackmailed /gun to the head convinced gently into trotting around the holy fire, or to the marriage registrar’s office or to the qazi, whatever is applicable.
According to the research, being in a heterosexual relationship for women is “actually a lot of hard work and generally requires more effort and labour than men.” The research also adds that women invest more time and money in the upkeep of their appearance, when compared to men and put in more effort to resolve disagreements.
I would agree for most, but marriage also has its benefits. Where else except in a marriage, could I have the freedom of airing out my lungs at full decibel every other day or giving my eyes so much eye-rolling exercise that the world actually spins as I view it.
And it is only here, in the comfort of an old marriage that I can happily pin the blame for everything that ever goes wrong on the spouse and harrumph contentedly at my own “I Told You Sos.”
Having said that though, the fact remains, urban India has the privilege and the comfort of having domestic labour outsourced for the most, but the emotional labour of running a family still remains primarily a woman’s domain. This can be taxing no doubt.
While single women might not have the partnership of a marriage, they do have the support of a better network of friends. Women tend to have more close friends than men do, and are better at asking for emotional support when they need it. They have a close network of friends they can confide in, and are comfortable planning and coordinating social activities with friends with varying interests.
Men tend to rely a lot on their wives to organise socialising and can feel trifle lost when it comes to going out and meeting people.
The perceived horror of being a singleton, while still prevalent in parts of the country, isn’t as intense as it was earlier. Many folks are consciously choosing to stay single, more power to them. They are comfortable with their single status, and damn what anyone has to say about it. For women over 45, they are the happiest when single, unencumbered by a spouse and his midlife crisis when they were dealing with their own.
Conversely, other research suggests that married men are the happiest. Way back in 1972, sociologist Jessie Bernard stated that in most heterosexual marriages, the man was faring better than the woman. Over four decades later, things seem to be pretty much status quo on that finding. But while the man is happy, the woman isn’t and more often than not, women tend to become dissatisfied sooner than men in their marriages.
More women than men are likely to file for divorce, around 70 percent of the divorce cases filed in the US are initiated by women.
In case of the death of a spouse, women adapt quicker to their single status. Remarriage rates are twice as much for men than for women post the death of a spouse or a divorce. Older women who live alone, contrary to Bridget Jones’s fears of dying alone and being eaten by the dogs, do much better than elderly men who live alone. In fact, older women who lived alone had the strongest and most expansive social networks and friends were an important cohesive support system to them.
Other research found that women could pursue their own interests and hobbies when they lived alone, while men could pursue their interests more efficiently if they lived with a partner or a spouse. Women also enjoyed being alone, more than men did.
Younger men are able to take on roles that were traditionally demarcated to the ‘woman of the house’ with no hesitation, being products of the post-feminist era and have better support networks to keep them going.
Interestingly though, the younger men living alone seem to be doing just fine. So perhaps, this is a generational thing. Younger men are able to take on roles that were traditionally demarcated to the ‘woman of the house’ with no hesitation, being products of the post-feminist era and have better support networks to keep them going. So, should we stop getting married? Despite the death knells being sounded for the institution of marriage, perhaps what we really do need to do, it would seem, is to let the weight of running the marriage slide to a more equitable balance. Utopian perhaps, but worth aiming for. Wet towels on the bed and diaper changing battles apart.
Kiran Manral is Ideas Editor at SheThePeople.TV