The Merry Divorcee

Two days ago, The Sunday Times Style magazine (not my usual reading fare) conducted a survey of over 1000 divorced men and women, and concluded in huge capitals:   MEET THE NEW BREED OF HAPPY DIVORCEE: WOMEN WHO ARE EMPOWERED, POSITIVE AND THRILLED TO BE SINGLE. While I have minor quibbles about the methodology and the slightly sensationalist way they presented the findings, I completely agree with the sentiment. Forget about Lehar’s Merry Widow, this is the age of the Merry Divorcee! Why? Mainly because it’s a bloody relief to be carefree and single again.

Well, who wouldn’t be merry if they were as glamorous as Lana Turner in
The Merry Widow?

It is surprising how little I miss being married – which probably shows that I had been getting very little out of that marriage for many, many years before it ended. I was responsible for all of the children’s medical appointments, school admin, payments, extracurricular activities, holidays, homework, shoe and clothes shopping, haircuts anyway, so in fact it is an improvement that occasionally they spend time with him and he has to organise days out with them or take them to the orthodontist twice a year.

How relaxing to have the whole bed to myself, to be able to switch on the bedside lamp to read when I suffer from insomnia, to not have all of his mobile phones and tablets flashing and beeping all night, to not see his blissfully unaware sleeping form on cold mornings when I need to get up early and get myself and the children ready for school, because he can’t be bothered to do the school run because he is not a morning person. I no longer have to remember the entire family diary (including his parents’ birthdays, his sister’s nameday, his nephew’s shoe size, his cousin’s promotion) or organise our entire social calendar only to have him moaning about the time, place or people involved, while I do all the cleaning, shopping, cooking, pouring out of drinks and conversation when we have guests, because his idea of small talk was usually something involving particle physics or berating of others for their political views. Oh, and how free will is entirely illusory. You’ve heard it seven times, you’ve heard it all. Do you know how much more interesting my conversations have become since I am by myself – even with my sons?

A Higgs boson for breakfast, lunch and supper, anyone? I have plenty of physicist friends who can talk of other things as well.

I can watch the TV I want instead of the droning of Formula 1 every second weekend. Or not watch it at all and read for hours before bedtime without someone sulking that I am not paying them enough attention. I can write a book review, or blog post, or scribble a poem or goof about on Twitter without constant questioning. Above all, I no longer get frustrated that my partner is not pulling their weight, because I know exactly how much I can do and when, rather than having any false expectations or relying on somebody else. I can get up and make a tea for myself without glowering that no one is offering to make me one. I can drill holes in the wall and hang pictures without a running commentary about how badly I do all those things. I can decide not to cook when I am tired and ask the children to either have toast with peanut butter or prepare their own pasta. I can make mistakes, be untidy, burst into giggles or be ignorant without a patronising sneer or far too earnest attempt to ‘teach me’.

As for loneliness, what loneliness? I’ve been going out much more frequently than at any point over the past 15 years (helped, of course, by the fact that the boys are older now and learning to fend for themselves). I keep in touch much more regularly with friends, whom I tended to avoid during the dying years of marriage because I didn’t want to deal with their uncomfortable questions or even sympathy.

Once a year, about this time of year, I do miss the masculine touch: I struggle to ‘bleed’ the radiators before switching them back on for the winter. But that’s an infinitesimal reason for marrying – I’m sure a handyman is less expensive in the long run and better for your health.

25 thoughts on “The Merry Divorcee”

  1. …Especially that handyman, Marina Sofia! 😉 – In all seriousness, I am very happy for you that you’ve created a life for yourself that makes you content, and where you are in a good place. And if you’re in a good place, that makes it that much easier for your sons, too.

    1. Thank you, yes, and the happiness spills over into my children’s lives as well. A more relaxed, even-tempered mother who doesn’t look over their shoulder all the time.

  2. There is a larger picture to what you describe. I think women have evolved–no longer willing to do all the domestic roles plus contribute to income, without being equal partners. But men, not so much. Maybe a few more generations?

  3. Haha – I’m making up a list of handyman jobs now! Glad you’re finding single life good. I’ve always enjoyed living alone for all the freedoms you mention, but would very much like them to invent a robot who could do all those ‘manly’ tasks around the place and then go into the cupboard and switch himself off until he’s needed…

    1. Now I wouldn’t like to give the impression that I am overwhelmed with handymen … in fact, I don’t think I’ve used one yet, simply because I’m not at home during the day usually!

  4. Thar certainly has the ring of truth about it ! C’est “le cri du coeur”
    So funny. Enjoy your new life to the full :-))

  5. As I told my cousin when she said she almost backed out before walking down the aisle, single is better. It took her a few years but now she is single again and loving it. 🙂 Nice post.

      1. “IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Jane AUSTEN :-))))

      2. Marriage is an institution. Shall I go into detail of what I think of institutions? I don’t think I need to because even in writing, you can hear it in my tone.

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