Two articles on marriage in this weekend's New York Times have cheered me up enormously.
The first, published Saturday, says that the right-wing attack on gay marriage is losing steam. Part of the reason is that voters are more interested in other issues -- like the Iraq War and the ethics problems in Congress -- but another reason "is that supporters of same-sex marriage this year are likely to be as mobilized as the opponents."
Despite the state laws and constitutional amendments defining marriage as "between one man and one woman," I think it's only a matter of time before gay marriage is legally recognized in this country. We are moving in a direction where we recognize that there are many ways of setting up a household, and gay marriage is one them.
The other article that pleased me ran in Sunday's Times and proclaimed: "To Be Married Means to Be Outnumbered." The gist of the article?
49.7 percent, or 55.2 million, of the nation's 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples -- with and without children -- just shy of a majority and down from more than 52 percent five years earlier.Taken together, these stories tell me that more and more of us are recognizing that there are many possible ways of living in the modern world. You no longer need to feel like an outcast if you're not part of a traditional marriage.
I'm single. Since there are a number of ways to be single, let me clarify that: I live alone, I'm not involved in a relationship, and I'm not looking for a spouse or a lover. I am, in fact, a spinster, an old maid, a maiden aunt, though the term I like best is the old one used in law, a feme sole. And I'm happy.
I also have the good fortune to be part of the first generation of women for whom living as a single person is not considered a major liability. Even in my parents' generation, people made fun of unmarried women, and of course, divorce was considered shameful up into the 1960s. Widows were objects of pity.
Today, though, we all have choices. And many of us do choose to live alone.
According to the same Census data The Times used, 27.1 percent of US households consist of single persons.
The decline in the percentage of married households means that more of us are choosing other ways of living -- alone, with roommates, in group households, with other family members, and in non-traditional relationships. In time, I hope, the law will catch up with us.