It is June 13, 2016. The year is not even halfway over, but Time magazine just published its 37th story about marriage. Below is the letter I sent to the editor of Time, at email@example.com. I also wrote two much more extensive critiques as blog posts: (1) At Psychology Today: “What’s wrong with telling married people to stay married?” (2) At Psych Central: “Why is Time magazine shaming single people and their children?”
[This post was originally published at Psychology Today. I just discovered that it disappeared! I have no idea why, but I thought I’d just republish it at my own site where I have control over what appears and disappears.]
In my previous post, I explained why no study has ever shown definitively that getting married causes people to become happier – and no study ever will. Here, I will critique the research (an unpublished working paper by Grover and Helliwell) that set off the latest round of matrimaniacal claims that we single people would be happier if only we would get married. The claims the authors are making are unapologetically causal: They think their research shows that getting married causes people to become happier. It doesn’t. The very premise of their claim (that married people are happier, and we just need to figure out if marriage is causing married people’s greater happiness) is undermined by some of their own findings – not that you would have read much about those results in any of the many media stories gleefully declaring a win for Team Marriage.
I have been scrutinizing the research on single parents and their children for more than a decade. I’ve learned lots of things, but perhaps the most important one is this: all those predictions you hear about how the children of single parents are doomed are grossly exaggerated or just plain wrong.
Some years back, there was a time when I was getting so many comments and emails from single people who were not feeling welcome in their places of worship that I started a series of posts on the topic. I wrote an introduction to the series, and then each post after that began with the question, “Which religions are welcoming to singles?” and continued with the answers from a particular religion. I didn’t write anything but the introduction – I don’t have the expertise. Instead, I invited people with expertise in different religions to answer some of the questions that readers of my Singled Out book and my Psychology Today blog had been asking me. As you will see below, I got answers from people with expertise in Judaism, Christian ministries, and Catholicism.
“White privilege” and “male privilege” are familiar concepts in our cultural conversations. There is, however, another vast swath of unearned privileges that have gone largely unrecognized, even though they unfairly advantage about half of the adult population in the United States. We’re talking about marital privileges. People who marry enjoy social, cultural, economic, and political advantages that single people do not, simply because they are married.
Questions about singles in the workplace are coming up more and more often. That’s a good thing. For too long, conversations about the workplace, and about achieving “balance,” have focused on people who are married with children.
Here, I have put together a collection of links to various discussions (mostly mine) of singles in the workplace. There are four sections: two on the issues facing singles in the workplace, one on single people’s values, and one on possible actions that can be taken to create better workplaces for single people.