Do a Google search on the health benefits of marriage and you’ll find countless articles on the topic. WebMD seems to have the most objective report, however. You’ll find statistics about how singles are more apt to be smokers, and are more prone to have psychological and social stress. Ok, that’s fair. They also reported, though, that married people are more prone to be overweight.
I’d like to see a different kind of report, because I think that single people can simulate some “married-like” benefits through close friendships and community. For single parents this is especially important. My most life-saving relationship since becoming a single mother is with my co-blogger, Missi. I was certainly lucky to find someone who lives a near parallel life. We are both single parents, we both work and we’re both graduate students in the same discipline. I know that might be hard for some single parents to find, but I would encourage that one make the effort to seek that out if at all possible.
Married people have the psychological benefit of having a partner, and in many ways I have the same. The following scenario is not uncommon:
Missi calls me: “Hey, I have to work this afternoon from 3 to 7. Can you pick the kids up today?”
Me: “Sure. I’ll make dinner and give Morgan a bath with Maddie. I’ll see if Raine has any homework.”
Missi: “Ok. If you bring them home, Maddie can just stay the night here. I’ll stop and get us a movie. I’ll get a bottle of wine. You can come over in the morning and pick Maddie up for school.”
Me: “I’m really stressed out. I have to finish this paper and clean my whole house tonight because I’m having company tomorrow. I have to start work at 5 a.m.”
Missi: “I’ll order pizza for the kids and come over and help you clean. I’ll bring a bottle of wine.”
The obvious difference between our friendship and a marriage is that we don’t cohabitate (yet) nor share incomes (outside of the occasional borrowing from each other), and naturally, we can’t meet all of each other’s needs (ahem!).
So no, it’s not the same, and a friendship isn’t going to have all of the satisfying elements of a love relationship. But the same can be said vice versa. I think that sometimes married couples get so immersed in “togetherness” that they neglect to build those important and valuable friendships that sustain us in ways that romantic relationships cannot.
When you have this kind of friendship, there can be formed a bond that affords a person the ability to be thoroughly her authentic self. It’s a pretty profound thing to find that person with whom you can share all of your deepest secrets, questions, doubts and judgments that sometimes feel threatening to a significant other. Oh, and someone with whom you can share a lot of wine.
Posted by: Jennifer