More Americans prefer "being single" than ever before, census finds
SIKESTON - Although Aunt Mary might disagree, living alone really isn't so bad. In fact, more and more individuals prefer it.
"I don't have any closet space to share with a husband," quipped "Sara," who asked not to be identified. "And I'm not making any room for one either."
And she's not the only one who feels that way. According to reports the 2000 Census shows that more than 27 million Americans live by themselves which is about a fourth of all households, nearly 10 percent of the population.
For the first time, the reports say, one-person households outnumber married couples with children.
"I believe some people are not getting married or are waiting longer as a personal choice as opposed to there 'being something wrong' or that a person is perceived as 'not marriage material,'" said Kyle Schott, a clinical therapist at Bootheel Counseling Services.
Although still there, Schott said the stigma of being single isn't as negative as it once was. He noted that careers tend to be more of a priority for people today.
"As long as someone feels as though they don't ever want to get married, then single they need to stay without any questions or 'encouraging' marriage words from family and friends," said Sara, 53.
"The social norm is to be married and have children," Schott said. "Family members and married friends may pressure unmarried individuals because of the belief that one cannot truly be happy without being married."
And like many never-been-married singles, that mind set infuriates Lynda Muench.
"It just makes me mad because it's like poor pitiful Lynda, she can't find anyone on her own. It's really humiliating," said Muench, 36. "And I am happy with who I am, I don't have to have a man to make me complete. I don't want people to try to set me up with someone and I don't want them to keep saying how I need to hurry up and get married. It gets really old after awhile. They're not getting what I'm saying, I like my freedom, I like things the way they are."
"I'm happy and I am not married," said Sara. "I feel as though I am a strong, independent and self-confident person who gets lonely at times but living alone does not make me uncomfortable with my life or unhappy. How can you not be happy when you can come and go when you want, eat what and when you want and watch the TV programs you want? When one says 'I do', the words need to come from the heart only when one feels like it is the right time and/or the right person."
Having been divorced for 16 years, Sara will be the first to say she liked married life, everything from having a family to sharing her life with someone she loved, right down to the family dog. That is, until she said she discovered she didn't know her supposed lifetime mate as well as she thought.
She admits going from marriage to being single wasn't easy, describing her life for the first few years after her divorce as being overwhelming, having to adjust to budgeting and raising children alone."Then I began gaining my independence back," she said. "I've raised two fine children and have accomplished a great deal in the past years - alone."
Neither of the women have ruled marriage completely out, by any means. They agree if they find the right person, then spending the rest of their lives with someone sounds great.
"I believe that happiness comes from within, married or single," said Sara. "I can't ever see myself married again but I don't know what God has planned for me. If he wants me with someone again, he will bring us together."