People don’t mind their business no more, all they do is this…
When they gave people access to the World Wide Web, they didn’t realize how creative, wild AF, and opinionated folks are. It gave us information at our fingertips, and unleashed the ability for people to espouse their most ridiculous shit publicly. So folks sit around with their meme generators and concoct ways to push their agendas and opinions into folks. And we share it and spread it so far, it seems to be supported as the only way to think. Nope. Nope. And more nope.
Yesterday and today I saw two posts, one about what being single is and the other about what it means to be married. Clearly the vast majority of people agreed with the posts… but regardless of what a legal definition might be, I disliked the premise of the posts. It reminded me of so many other things I see on social media that attempt to a) label people by invoking religion or the law and b) use loaded words in their simplest terms to prove the writers point.
Post #1 Snippet
“Until you are married, you are SINGLE.
1.We just got engaged😉😆(Single)
2.I live with my boyfriend😂😂 (Still Single)
3. We have been together for 15years 😢😅(Super Single) ….”
(The emojis and qualifiers irritated me the most.)
Post #2 Snippet
“Separated = Married
Estranged = Married
Married = Married
Sleeping in separate bedrooms = Married
Divorced = Divorced
Freshly Divorced= Emotionally Unavailable”
Legally, sure, a lot of this is true. But let’s keep it 100… very few people when they pick rings, dresses, deejays, cakes and photographers are thinking about the legal protections of marriage. People get married because of financial stability, societal expectations, love, because they don’t want to be alone, to raise a family, etc. Many married folks don’t even know the litany of automatic legal protections available to them. But folks are quick to invoke those protections when nonmarried people speak up about their feelings about marriage and more particularly the fact that it’s not a necessity for them. Some married women get upset by that. How dare you not want in on all this… bliss.
Outside of that legal framework, relationships are emotional, physical, personal, and spiritual bonds that are much deeper than legalese. There are laws that make wearing yellow on the third Sunday of the month illegal. There are laws that says non-free people only count as “three fifths” of a person… (Article 1, Section 2, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution) yep still there! So let’s just stop with the idea that all laws are good laws.
Beyond that though, the law creates labels. The purpose of the law is to regulate behavior… and one of the most difficult types of behavior to regulate is emotional behavior. And in the spirit of being real, this really isn’t about legal definitions. It’s about judgements and controlling people so other folks are more comfortable. Its about protecting our security, expectations, and boundaries because we aren’t owning our part in how those things were broken down in the first place. It’s easier to control people when you make them fit into boxes, it creates a social expectation, and the typical us versus them dichotomy. I can, without even knowing who made those posts tell you that a married person made the single post and a single person made the married post. I’d be willing to bet money on it. Ultimately those posts become a mechanism to deliver a message to other folks. Other folks who are likely NOT waiting on some Facebook post to tell them how to live.
It’s clear from the posts that these are judgements on the choices people make… “single” people acting married and “married” people acting single. Who defines what any of that really looks like?!?! And why did the writer care so damn much?
Single is legal term for unmarried but it also means free of encumbrances. Many women with children don’t consider themselves “single” as in singular. One may be legally single but not consider themselves single based on the responsibilities and loyalty they have pledged to a partner. One can be more responsible and loyal to their partner than another is to their spouse. Many people forego the automatic legal protections created by legal marriage to set up those same protections for financial, medical, and residential rights to their partner by choice. That is often a reason people chose not to marry or don’t find it a necessity, they want to be free to choose the parameters of their relationship and not have them dictated to them.
And ending a marriage, don’t get me started. First people label you a quitter, that you give up to easily, or as someone not willing to fight for the marriage. Then people tell you what you should or should not do while you are waiting to be allowed to divorce. How ready you are to move on, despite knowing nothing about the particulars of your marriage. Folks say well whatever stage you are in, you are still married… legally true but often as far from the truth emotionally and physically as you can get. If you chose not to involve yourself with someone in those stages, that I fully understand. But that is your choice. How they see the stages of the end of their marriage are based on thing you likely know nothing about.
Who cares how a person living with their mate, with their mate 15 years, estranged from their spouse for five years or in a legal battle for ten defines themselves or their relationship status? Chances are those people don’t label themselves as single or married. Shit, there are actually boxes under Marital Status that say Domestic Partnership or Separated, things other than Single or Married. For YEARS same sex couples who were as “married” as anyone else were denied the right to be married legally. So there’s that! When I was married I could have given two shits about what non married people called themselves or what anyone thought about mine. When I was divorcing, I gave less than two shits about what people thought about my lengthy ordeal. Now that I’m unmarried, the only relationship I have an opinion on is the one I’m in. And no one else’s opinion of it matters outside of the two people in it.
We already know what the law says, but let’s leave people to dictate their own descriptions of their relationships as long as they are being honest if they are involving others. So instead…
Engaged = Engaged
Cohabitating = Cohabitating
Together 15 years = Together 15 years
Separated = Separated
Estranged = Estranged
Divorced = Divorced
Newly Divorced = Newly Divorced
The bottom line is this… the particulars of anyone’s relationship are theirs and theirs alone. Legal definitions, your opinions, and society’s expectations are not in partnership with anyone… and as a result, should stay out of two people’s choices regarding the way they define and experience their relationship. If folks choose marriage, great. I’m a proponent. However, if people choose long term, short term, casual, open, or some other iteration of a relationship, that is their choice to make and trust that people are doing what best benefits them. Mind your relationship.
Just my interpretation of the situation…