Single Blessedness: observations on the single status in married society

Another book (pub’d 1976) culled from the footnotes of Spinster, it’s almost embarrassing to read a book that so clearly outlines the delightfulness of being untethered to another human—preaching to the choir, perhaps. At any rate, I “learned” that us singles are a pretty awesome group, albeit completely ignored and under-represented in society. We value our independence (duh) and have strong social connections. While we have to face the peeling off of our more simple-minded friends into the bondage of marriage and kids, we make up for their loss by finding new friends who aren’t in lockstep with societal norms. The pairing off frees us to weed out the weak and to find more interesting and valuable connections. (Ok, most of the above is my own thoughts, but it aligns with what Margaret Adams outlines).

Althea Webster originated the concept of “Top Ten People” —the ten people you’re closest to that you turn to for help and for celebration— and she considers this loose network as valuable (or more) than what marrieds gain from their legal bondage. “She also feels that for her this is a much preferable alternative to the exclusive one-to-one involvement implicit in modern marriage and one more conducive to the growth of personality, self-awareness, and social identity, because it is free of the dependency that is so often a feature of marriage…”


Another book closely related is Liberty, A Better Husband: Single Women in America The Generations of 1780-1840 whose title came from a snippet of Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 diary, “[The article I wrote] was about old maids. “Happy Women” was the title, and I put in my list all the busy, useful, independent spinsters I know, for liberty is a better husband than love to many of us.” From a quick perusal of this book, I learned the term “thornbacks” was applied to unmarried women over age 26. Hell yeah, thornbacks! Also learned about Mary Abigal Dodge, who wrote under the pseudonym Gail Hamilton, quoted from her work, A New Atmosphere (1865).