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Happily Unmarried. Happily Divorced.
Written by Orna Gadish   

Happily Unmarried. Happily Divorced.

Why "single/unmarried/divorced" is the new normal for today's woman

By Orna Gadish

Marriage is on the decline today with nearly 47 percent unmarried young adults, and more single, unmarried and divorced women than ever. The "single scene" is booming throughout the Western world, where more and more women are postponing marriage, divorcing more, and now, there is also a new trend—millions of women are forgoing marriage altogether, remaining unmarried and single by choice.

The happily unmarried, happily divorced, or single by choice is a sweeping cultural phenomenon that can't be ignored. Many women today are taking advantage of the cultural changes that allowed them tremendous freedom of choice and the option to live unfettered by the marriage chain.

Can this really be the next revolution or new evolution of a modern woman, the one who is successful and independent in her own right, and, unlike in the past, does not need a husband
to make a living, have sexual relations, have a live-in partner, have a family, or even have and raise children? For millions of woman who walk down the unmarried path the answer is YES!

While social stigma around single and unmarried women has relaxed over the years, along with strengthening of the social and political stance of women, women increasingly feel they don't need to say I Do! in order to attain fulfillment, or serve outdated ideals that no longer fit their needs.

Like it or not, many modern women do not need marriage as a rubber stamp on their way to financial, psychological and sexual autonomy, social acceptance, respect, or success. No longer is marriage the epitome of a happy life for a woman, nor can it guarantee eternal love, faithfulness, financial stability, or health benefits—given the 50 percent divorce rates and high rate of infidelity. The magic pill of traditional marriage, the same one that doped millions in past generations is losing its powerful effect.

Beyond the sociocultural, psychological, and financial factors that opened women's minds to challenging marriage – science and technology also played a key role in making it happen. Women now can opt to conceive without the physical presence of a man or, at least, without marriage. While in the past, marriage offered all such benefits to women, a growing number of women today believe that they can really have it all without immersing themselves in contrived and unrealistic commitments.

Undoubtedly, marriage ceased to deliver the goods in today's modern and global society. I believe that the sexual revolution turned the cornerstone of marriage upside down. In the past, marriage was a method to control sexuality in a predominately patriarchal world, where premarital sex was a disgrace, and unless women married young and reproduced immediately, they were shunned or labeled as "spinsters" or, conversely, "whores." But that is no longer the case for a society where women celebrate recreational sex and "bitch" is a positive word.

With the sexual liberation and contraceptives in place, today's women have fully reclaimed their sexual authority to decide for themselves about their bodies, lovers, relationships, pregnancies, and also family matters. Today's women find contentment within themselves, and even unmarried women who make a special someone their choice often question marriage as culmination of their love life and relationships.

Thus, for most women today marriage is just one of the options, not necessarily a golden path. There are various alternative relationships, dwelling, motherhood, career, and family settings which have become worthwhile substitutes for marriage. I encourage women to believe in themselves, take charge of their lives, and embrace their single/unmarried/divorced status as if it were the best thing that could happen to them.  

In a world where cheating is the norm and divorce rates are sky-high, it is quite natural for women to doubt marriage, its legal hassles in case of divorce, and the constrictive implications to prosperity and personal fulfillment. Marriage is no longer necessary for women to achieve all the benefits and freedoms that women could only secure in the past through marriage. Today's woman can choose to be successful and respected without being tied down. She can choose to enjoy profound relationships rooted in an unconditional love without the commitment of marriage. She can choose to cohabitate, live alone, or have kids without a man by her side. Times have changed and people have changed since our mothers and grandmothers said "I Do!" without asking questions.  


Orna Gadish is an award-winning writing professional, journalist, translator and author of DON'T SAY I DO! Why Women Should Stay Single (New Horizon Press, 2012). In addition to her far-reaching research on the virtues of single life, she has written two books. Gadish has an Honors MSc degree from NJIT, USA.

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