“There comes a point in many people's lives when they can no longer play the role they have chosen for themselves. When that happens, we are like actors finding that someone has changed the play.” ~ Brian Moore, Author of The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
Fifty-three percent (53%) of adult American women are single today. That’s rather shocking compared to the turn of the last century when that number was less than 20%. It used to be that most women were married by the time they were 20 to 22 years old; not anymore. Today, many women are putting off getting married until at least age 27.
As I was doing some research on this post, I started to think about all the information that I was obtaining about the benefits of being single – all of them are tangible reasons to be single, except the part of being free to do whatever we want, whenever we want.
One of the saddest books I have ever read is The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne. Why would a book have that sort of effect on the reader? I think that it has a lot to do with the aging process. When we are young and free to be whomever we choose, having someone to come home to at night or not isn’t really all that big of a deal. However, when we become women of a certain age, the play has changed and we actresses aren’t necessarily choosing our own roles anymore.
The apartment or house seems a bit bigger and emptier as the years pass. All the beautiful things that fill the home appear to be a bit less shiny than they once were. They seem to be of less importance than we once thought that they were or would be. We pass by the mantel, or perhaps trek up the stairs where the eyes peering out of the photos on the walls haunt our memories with thoughts of better days. Perhaps they are the eyes of our children, the husband long departed in a years-ago divorce.
I am most certain that every single woman in today’s world has known love or at least infatuation at one time or another. In The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Judith never had the opportunity to fall in love with anyone, while caring for her ailing aunt until the old woman died, leaving Judith with nothing. Judith was a 40-something year old spinster. Judith didn’t really have a choice in the matter; however, today women choose it. We are choosing spinsterhood over marriage at a rapid rate.
Several times every year, I am asked, why didn’t I get married. I suppose I have my reasons that are probably just as different or the same as any other who chose not to. Does that mean I will never get married? No, not at all, like Judith Hearne, I want someone who meets my intellectual needs just as much as other needs. I learned something from my elders, particularly my grandparents who were married 63 years, once you reach a certain age, you have to enjoy each other’s company or you really don’t have anything.
I watched the documentary Revelations on Netflix, and I couldn’t agree more with the men who were interviewed. Marriage is about the relationship first, and about love second. Love is a by-product of marriage or civil union, or whatever suits your fancy in this regard. However, no matter how far you get into your spinsterhood, don’t ever stop believing in the magic of love.
You just never know. One day you might be at the laundromat or the grocery store, where a simple conversation leads to dinner, and then movies, or football games or whatever is in the spark that feeds the relationship and whispers…my dear, there is more, so much more.
Through literature, we learn to live, to love, and to conquer!