In any successful business, key people anticipate the future and make their plans accordingly. As chairman of the board of your life (not a bad way to see things), you're faced with the same challenge/opportunity — which means, of course, looking at the numbers dealing with your odds of marrying. Those numbers were so startling when first published that they made screaming headlines. But here, in a calmer setting, you and I can delve into their meaning minus the emotional charge. Here we go:
—The possibilities: You will marry soon, or you will marry later — probably later than you expected — or you won't marry at all (or again), or (and I wish it to you) you will marry and live to your last day with your partner, or you will marry and ultimately be divorced.
—The odds: A never-married woman of 30 has a 20 percent chance of marrying. A never-married woman of 40 has a 1 percent chance. There are 86.9 single men for every 100 single women, and according to one rough estimate, 44 percent of those men are gay. About 12 in 13 American women who will marry will eventually become widows. (Women outlive men by an average of eight years.) The current divorce rate is 50 percent. About 75 percent of divorced women remarry, and 83 percent of men remarry. There is a burgeoning trend toward lifelong singleness, more prevalent among women.
—The probability: There will be significant periods of singleness in your life.
—Action indicated: All but two of the possibilities put you back at square one — life on your own. (Only one of them keeps you partnered for life, and the possibility of that one is slim.) Besides, even the one woman who stays married to her last day needs to cultivate her autonomy; even she needs to live as if she'll always be single. That's right; even if you knew right now that you'll be married for life, chances are you'd still recognize the importance of owning your own life, because in the most fundamental way, we are responsible for ourselves. In that sense, we're all walking single file.
Don't make your life a waiting game, putting action on hold for some airy-fairy reason. You must know in your heart of hearts that life's bounty is only for the doers. Yet some single women sit waiting, praying for Mr. Wonderful to come along and jump-start their "real" life. They don't learn about finances and the stock market, don't even dream about a condo of their own or plan a career, because they don't think any of that is possible without a man. Well, ladies, he's not here. So it's time to stop waiting for him to present a life. You yourself had better start opening your present.
DEAR READERS: We've uncovered a treasure-trove of "Single File" paperbacks — in perfect condition, ready to read. Send $15 and your address to: Susan Deitz, C/O Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. I'll send you a signed copy.
Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected]