Dot alerted me to this eyebrow raising NY Times article observing that more women than not in the U.S. are now living by choice without a spouse:

For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results. // In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000. [read the rest of the article]

Some of the discussion reminds me of a conversation I had with a colleague a couple months ago about women we knew who got into and stayed in really bad marriages because they didn’t have much by way of education or workplace skills to make it on their own. To survive, they truly believed they needed to depend on their husbands, especially where children were involved. So while we were talking, I realized for the first time how blessed I am to have an education–blessed, because I get to enjoy large amounts of freedom; with the ability to be self-sufficient, I have numerous options about what to do with my life.

But based on observation of my networks of females, I don’t think this freedom is always consciously desired or gratefully embraced (e.g. I didn’t realize it until recently). Perhaps some of us don’t know any different and take it for granted. More likely, we are still brought up (and/or peer pressured) to believe that we are more of a person (i.e. not a loser) only when we have found a signficant other. I find the women who are the most at peace with being unmarried are confident about who they are. They also tend to be more experienced (and therefore, usually older) than me. Don’t get me wrong here: I do think that longing for a companion is natural and even spiritual (i.e. God made us that way). But oftentimes, the longing gets twisted into a measure of our worth, and that is a sad, crippling state to be in or see others go through.

What is interesting is that the article suggests the trend is happening largely by choice. The all-too-common complaint, “There aren’t any good men left out there!”, doesn’t express itself like a choice, but maybe it actually is, even if subconsciously. Maybe women in this day and age can (literally) afford to be more choosy in mate selection because we are in fact more free to be choosy.