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Home > Q&A DON'T SAY I DO

DON'T SAY I DO!
Why Women Should Stay Single

Interview with Author Orna Gadish

Don't Say I Do! Why Women Should Stay Single by Orna Gadish

1.            DON'T SAY I DO! is unique in the way it presents the decline of marriage in the modern world as a revolution rather than a problem—as  a cultural change brimming with options, opportunities, and marriage alternatives for modern women. Why do you believe that today's women should ponder their status in a relationship, family, and career and opt to remain single or unmarried?

More and more women in the U.S., Europe, and around the Western world are shunning the institution of marriage today. It's a sweeping cultural change embraced by millions, which can't be ignored. To put it simply, it is happening because women today do not need marriage in order to have money, or have sex with a guy, or cohabitate with him, or share finances, or create a family, or even to have and raise children. Furthermore, women do not need to walk down the wedding aisle in order to be socially accepted and respected by their community and society at large. Women today do not even need physical contact with a man in order to conceive. In the past, marriage offered all such benefits to women, but not anymore. What is it, if not a revolution?

2.            Your contention in DON'T SAY I DO! is that it is a welcomed revolution though.
 
It certainly is a welcomed evolution and revolution, I believe, because modern women are way more independent today than in the past. They don't actually need men to support them financially. Women participate equally in the workforce and earn more than in the past. They compete against men on even grounds and in many cases exceed men. Many ambitious women aim high in education, and later on, successfully focus on their careers. Also, women have a stronger social standing today that allows them to nurture themselves and follow their passions in life. All such things were impossible, or quite limited opportunities, for women in the past. But the fact is that today, for most women marriage is no longer the epitome of a happy life.

3.            What are the most dominant factors that turned the cornerstone of marriage upside-down since it was the epitome of achievement for a woman in the past
?

In the past centuries marriage was reinforced by business interests, such as creating alliances, paying off debts, and passing along wealth. It was also a way to control sexuality in a predominately patriarchal world, where premarital sex was out of the question and women were expected to marry at their late teens and immediately reproduce. But this is no longer the case for our society, where women are financially, emotionally, and also sexually independent.

In the past it was marriage that allowed women to be sexually active with a man; without marriage women were shunned by society. In past generations, women who did not marry young were disparaged and labeled as "spinsters," and women who had sex before marriage were considered "whores." But today, with the sexual revolution and contraceptives in place, women have fully reclaimed their sexuality. Today's women can decide for themselves about their bodies, lovers, relationships, pregnancies, and also family matters. In the past women relied on marriage to inform their decisions and regulate those, but not anymore.

4.            So your claim in DON'T SAY I DO! is that marriage might not be the ultimate path for today's women?

Exactly. Marriage is just one of the choices for a woman today, certainly not the optimal one, and not an essential rite of passage like in the past. Many women who live in today's world already understand that they should not be "doomed" to marriage like in the past. The "coverture" days where a woman lost her personal identity, and social and legal rights upon marriage are long gone. In DON'T SAY I DO! I encourage women to think for themselves and weigh the alternatives to traditional marriage, and not be blindly led by the nose into any artificial social and cultural construct. Today's women assume more rights and powers than ever before, which allows them to choose. Freedom of choice is key to every woman's prosperity in the modern world.

In the book I discuss why a woman today does not necessarily have to put a ring on her finger in order to be happy, successful, and respected. Today's woman does not need a husband in order to be in a relationship, create a family, and even to have or raise kids. Times have changed and people have changed since our mothers and grandmothers said "I Do!" without asking questions.

5.            Which leads us to your assertion in DON'T SAY I DO!  that the notions of true friendship, love, and also sex outweigh the commitment of marriage. Can you explain?

It appears that postmodern relationships are based more on the notions of true friendships, love, and sexual bonds, which means fewer "strings attached," for instance, financial. But the culmination of such genuine, natural, and stronger bonds is not necessarily marriage today. Marriage might not be the ultimate expression of love or faithfulness (as can be demonstrated by the skyrocketing infidelity and divorce rates); nor does it offer a guarantee for happiness or success. The sooner women realize that, the stronger and more empowered they will become as individuals.

6.            On the same note, some unmarried women still feel today that they are "not worth anything" unless they are part of a couple in marriages. Why is that?

Because society might still be socializing women to believe they need a husband to be happy and fulfilled, and this is no longer the case for today's women. In DON'T SAY I DO! I challenge the concept that a woman needs marriage to be content and whole as an individual. I also challenge the concept that a woman needs a "special someone" to be complete.

In the book, I encourage women to believe in themselves and recognize that only they can be responsible for their own achievements, fulfillment, and happiness. An optimistic and take-charge approach is the key to creating lasting happiness and success in an unmarried woman's life. Sometimes a woman who buys into the concept that only marriage will make all her dreams come true might not be aware of all the options and opportunities available to the unmarried and single women by choice  today. Likewise, some women might not be aware of the various alternatives to marriage.

7.            So basically you are suggesting that the revolution is in the various new choices, options, and opportunities that are available today for the single, unmarried, or divorced women?

Absolutely. In DON'T SAY I DO! I urge single, unmarried, divorced and even widowed women to embrace their status as single and unmarried— to recognize and take benefit of all the amazing options and opportunities in moving forward with their relationships, family, and career matters as liberated and self-reliant women. The various relationship and dwelling options that I present in the book, as well as the alternative family structures were unimaginable a few decades back, and some of them are certainly worthwhile substitutes for marriage.

In the book I address the various relationship opportunities, alternative family structures, options for conception and motherhood, ways to raise children alone or with a partner, and other alternatives for those staying unmarried and single by choice. I encourage women to forget about the old-fashioned patterns, molds, and rules of past generations that are no longer relevant to today's world. Women can and should live their life to the fullest without regretting anything or apologizing to anyone!

8.            Along the same line, what should be the best choice for an unmarried woman in a relationship who loves and trusts her partner?

Not marriage! At least not for the millions of couples both in the U.S. and throughout the Western world who opt out of it. Marriage today is in sharp decline. The percentage of young adults who have never married is at an all-time high of 46.3 percent, with sharp increases in the number of singles in big cities in the U.S. and in the industrialized world. This is actually the first time that the number of unmarried young adults exceeds the number of those who are married. As I mentioned, some of the options opened today to women serve as good alternatives to marriage. One example is the dwelling arrangement of cohabitation. Cohabitation is the living arrangement of choice for millions today. Many women decide to move in with their partners, with or without sharing finances. Long and short-term cohabitation has become acceptable with millions preferring this option to marriage itself.

9.            Can long-term cohabitation and other options that you mention such as the Living Together Apart (LTA) dwelling arrangement answer women's needs today?

Absolutely. Even long-distance relationships, open relationships, and "friends with benefits" can answer the needs of some unmarried women who want a relationship,  either a short or a long-term one. It is also okay to be single by choice today without a relationship. Single women have the freedom and the time to do everything they want, plus a whole lot more than women who spend time on their partners within relationships. There are plenty of benefits to remaining single, which I discuss in detail in the book. Being single without a relationship is one option for a growing number of women I focus on in the book.

10.          What other women groups do you focus on in DON'T SAY I DO! ?

First, there is the group of the unmarried women in relationships: those women who have a partner but are reluctant to marry him. For such women the book helps them understand how they can benefit from their unmarried state without proceeding toward marriage.

There is the subgroup of unmarried women in unhappy relationships: those women who are disappointed in their “unofficial” commitments but are reluctant to break up with their men for various reasons, such as those related to social pressure, obligations to extended family, or community or, financial, physical, or emotional dependence.

There is the group of single women not in relationships, who are either after marriage, or after long-term commitments, and the single-by-choice group of women without relationships. Such women can find support and inspiration for the self-reliant choices they have made or may make to remain single.

Another two important focus groups are the unhappily-married women and the divorced women who are presented with a breakthrough in the book in the form of working alternatives and substitutes to marriage.

Women who belong to the groups focused on in DON'T SAY I DO! get practical advices that guide them through their situation and toward making the best decision, without wavering or being afraid of change. Even if that change seems impossible at first, women owe it to themselves to consider the alternatives to marriage on offer to unmarried women today.

11.          Your book inspires millions of single, unmarried, and divorced women to find fulfillment in life without committing to marriage, at the same time you don't come out against the family unit. Can you elaborate on that?

In DON'T SAY I DO! I show the unmarried women all the new relationship options and alternatives in the way that the family unit is defined and perceived today, which make it necessary for them to think outside the constraints of marriage. Fact is that the family unit has changed its definition and structure in today's world. For example, a single woman with a child is a family. A lesbian couple with a child is a family. Two gay fathers are a family. A couple who lives together apart, even long distance, with a child is a family. And couples who live together without children are also a family. 

In DON'T SAY I DO! I go through all the alternate family paths that women can choose while staying happily unmarried, such as the nuclear family with cohabitation, extended families, LTAs, single parents, and GLBT structures. I also discuss the ways to conceive or adopt and become a mother which interests many women who choose the single path today.

12.          Basically you are saying that unmarried, single, and divorced women today can have it all in motherhood, family, and relationship matters without committing to marriage?

Absolutely. Unmarried women today hold the power in their hands to live their lives to the fullest without marriage, taking advantage of all the relationship options and alternative family structures that serve as great substitutes for marriage. Today's women can choose to be successful and respected without being lawfully committed. Women can choose to have kids without a man by their side. Women can choose to enjoy profound relationships rooted in an unconditional love, while avoiding all of the legal hassle and constrictive implications of the archaic institution of marriage.

13.          Does that imply that women today, like men, are less willing to commit?

Undoubtedly, today's relationships have become fragmented, imaginary, and virtual way more than real. In our postmodern time, contingencies and an endless variety of options to communicate, mingle, and also mate have become a living reality. Lengthy commitments are history. People are not bound to the same physical space any more. They are constantly on the go, on the fly, and can try their hand virtually anywhere, from the office to the globe, through their computers, i-Phone, and i-Pads. For instance, a man at his desk in New York can flirt virtually with a woman from San Francisco. Two days later, that same man might find a business reason to head west, get clearance from his boss, and meet his virtual find at an undisclosed location in the middle. Welcome to the digital age! Among many factors, modern technology has been a key one in bringing on this change. But rather than ignoring it, we should be wise enough and acknowledge that. The ideal of marriage to a large extent has lost its ground as a powerful pillar of modern society and stability.

14.          Can this postmodern effect explain the high divorce rates and infidelity rates which you present and analyze in the book?

Of course. In our digital age, more and more couples get divorced, because marriage can no longer be the ultimate answer. Marriage is old-fashioned and cannot answer the need of the hour. The rules of the game have changed dramatically. Our lifestyles have loosened and became hectic and pretty much diverse. Science and technology accelerate our pace and improve our standard of living. Limitations of time and place play minor roles or are not relevant at all. The world has become fast, flat, and overly global. And in such a constellation, marriage as a solution can no longer help.

Cheating is one of the characteristics of impaired relationships and marriages. There is a full chapter in the book that I dedicate to cheating: why it happens and what women can do about it. The high infidelity and divorce rates attest to the failure of marriage in the digital age, and conversely, to the success of alternative relationships and substitute family structures.

Women owe it to themselves to break free from the relationship practices and old-fashioned rules that are no longer relevant for the way they want to live their lives today. It is ridiculous that a twenty-first century women will strive to fulfill some outdated ideals! In light of all the alternatives, modern women should ask themselves: can a commitment for life be relevant at all? For millions of women who walk down the single path as happily unmarried women the answer is clear.

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