Those Who May Not Marry

it is always to avoid self-pityThis week’s selection is from a book published by Dr. Warren Bowman, who was, at the time, pastor of a church in Miss Abigail’s home base, Washington, D.C. You’ll be relieved to find out that Home Builders of America (as I read in the introduction) “wholly avoids ‘pornographic paragraphs,'” and that “no one, indeed, would have any reason to hesitate to leave this book lying around . . . for any child or adult to read when and where he wished.” We wouldn’t want to deprive anyone from discovering the following passage. Let’s “face reality” together, now, shall we?

1938: Those Who May Not Marry

It would be unfair to conduct courses in marriage and home life without taking into account that there may be some in the group who will never marry. It is necessary for them to study how to make the most effective adjustment to single life as well as for the married to make their adjustment to married life.

Causes for remaining single. Causes for remaining single fall under several general heads: those who deliberately choose the single life, those who do not have the opportunity of marrying, and those who have the opportunity but do not feel that the available one is the right person. Some choose to remain single because of hereditary defects in themselves or in their family which they think make the risk too great for them to marry and have children. Others are too disappointed in love and the memory of the former person prevents them from falling in love with someone else. One of the most pathetic cases that ever came within the writer’s experience was that of a young college girl who during her early life had fallen in love with a married man and, because of this experience, could not give her love to other worthy young men who sought her hand. Then some have dependent parents or other obligations which they feel prevent them from marrying. Some put a career ahead of marriage, which is especially true of women of the professional class who go in for higher degrees. Finally, there are a few who have never had a suitable love affair. For some reason or other they have been deprived of the company of desirable persons of the opposite sex during their marriageable years. The majority in this group are young women, many of whom have keenly desired marriage and were well fitted to assume its obligations, but our standard, which gives the men the right to take the initiative in wooing, has left them out. Then, the fact that there is an uneven distribution of the sexes, more women than men and vice versa, in certain areas of the country, would naturally leave some without a mate.

In spite of the fact that some are left out, we must not forget that most men and women have the opportunity of choosing whether they will marry or not. Almost every man can find some mate if he so desires, and many women who are single today have chosen to remain so. . . . Many who have remained single might have been married if they had placed themselves in a more favorable environment for meeting suitable men.

Face reality. Those who find the years passing with no promising opportunity to marry should face the problem frankly and plan their lives accordingly. It would appear wise for them to study the biographies and autobiographies of single men and women who have lived satisfying and abundant lives. One might especially profit from studying the lives of those in the field of his interests who have turned single life into an asset. Single women would find it interesting to study the lives of Jane Addams, Florence Nightingale, and many other brave women who have given their lives to such professions as teaching, nursing, missionary activities, and social uplift. Many single women have made notable contributions to human betterment, far greater contributions perhaps than they would have made had they married. The same is true of some single men. Some of the outstanding men of history have remained single.

Find a desirable outlet. The severest stress on the single person comes from the blocking of emotional outlets. Thus it behooves those who remain single to take special care that their personalities are not warped by single life. This is just as true of the men as the women, for bachelors often develop peculiar habits and traits. Single people need a desirable emotional outlet which can often be found in social service. Thousands of single women today are doubtless sublimating their maternal tendency in such vocations as teaching, nursing, and social work. These fields are often blessed by having women in them who have strong maternal tendency, since they are likely to be more sympathetic toward the unfortunate. Some of the greatest contributions to human welfare have come from men and women who have converted their disappointments and suffering into a force for social betterment.

In making one’s adjustment to single life it is always wise to avoid self-pity. It is far better to find others who are more unfortunate than one’s self and make life pleasant for them. It is also healthy to take a vital interest in the life around one.

It is perhaps wise for young women especially to think of what they may do in case they do not marry. They may plan two careers, marriage, in case the right person comes along, and another career which they may follow in case they do not marry. The mentally healthy person who has planned for years in this dual manner will not likely be so disappointed if she never marries, but will be able to make a happy adjustment in some worthy vocation.

It is well to recognize that there are some who, because of peculiar temperament, would find the adjustments of marriage too difficult and should perhaps be advised to remain single. They would not only be unhappy in marriage, but would ruin the happiness of a mate.

Source: Bowman, Warren D. Home Builders of Tomorrow. Elgin, Ill.: The Elgin Press, 1938.
~ pp. 51-54 ~