Okay, perhaps the New York Times article that graced the front page of the Style section recently deserves a little more parsing than that.
But really. Like that other scary statistic that turned out to be wrong—remember the one about women over forty being as likely to get hit by a terrorist’s bomb as to marry? That one had women running like banshees to get hitched to anyone they could or contemplating that perhaps marrying out of terror was pretty much the same as getting killed by a terrorist—I suspect this one will somehow be debunked in some way, too. Or perhaps not, as it hasn’t gotten nearly the play as the last scare tactic.
According to the Times, “the ‘remarriage gap’ for women is far wider than it is for men…the biggest gap of any age group.”
That may well be because men have a tendency to marry down, both in age and intelligence, while women marry up. Or it could be due to the simple fact that when a woman divorces in middle age, the very last thing she wants to do is get married again.
Of course that theory is never explored.
Instead, the Times interviews a very sincere woman minister (who is appropriately photographed with her hands folded as if in prayer) who spends much of her time cooking splendid meals for herself and calling her daughter to tell her about them. She tried the usual internet dating sites and has had only middling success; she is apparently too tall, too serious, and not willing to lie about her age.
In other words she sounds like a normal, healthy, middle aged woman; she’s not willing to play games just to get a date.
I divorced the first time at 49 and had a pretty good time dating. That might have been because I got in under the wire of the dreaded Five O. I’ll never know. But then, two-and-a-half years ago, I met a man with whom I fell in love. Rather than just going with that wonderful feeling, however, I accepted his proposal.
Looking out the rear window of being separated yet again and heading for my second divorce, I know full well I should have stuck with the relationship as love affair. I won’t go into my reasons for marrying, except to say that all things considered it seemed like a good idea at the time. But what I found out is that I don’t much like the married state any more than I did the first time. And I suspect that now I am not very good at it.
The first time I was not yet thirty and wanted children. I married and had them and tried my best to make the relationship work. It ultimately didn’t. The second time I don’t think I realized how much I need my own space and a certain amount of quiet and privacy every day. As much as I might love a man, I really really do not want him around 24-7. I don’t want to sleep beside a man who snores. I do not want to cook dinner every night. I do not want conversation when I want to read. I want nights out with girlfriends without explanation, I want alone time with my daughter in the house, I want to eat apples and peanut butter and watch HGTV.
I also, of course, would very much like a lover. A man in my bed. Sometimes. Someone to see a flick and catch a meal with. Someone to travel with. And definitely someone to rub my feet while we watch television.
But I don’t think at this point in my life that means marriage. And I know a large amount of single and married women in their fifties who feel the same way. They decry the lack of alone time, the bed wars, and the daily dinners. They are tired of not being able to just drop down on the couch after a long day and flip the remote themselves. They are very tired of not being appreciated for all they do by the men who promised—some long time ago—to do just that.
I married my lover and for a hundred reasons, some of which had to do with being married and many which did not, it all went to hell. It might well have gone to hell anyway—in fact I feel that it would have—but getting out of a marriage is a whole lot harder than getting out of a relationship. The pain and the guilt are worse, too.
When I divorced my first husband I said I would never marry again. But I did. Now both my lawyer and my therapist have made me promise to call them if I get a cockamamie idea like that again—at least in the next five years.
On the other hand, I don’t think I have to worry: According to research, I am now into my fifties and part of the statistical norm. It’s unlikely to happen which takes a load off my mind.