In WVFC’s previous excerpt from her new book The Spinsterlicious Life, Eleanore Wells (right) combed the dictionary in a wry search for a positive noun for an unmarried woman who’s too old to be “bachelorette.” (There are no positive words.) Here, from Chapter 14, is her report on the feelings of a spinster (old maid?) as she sees her fortysomething girlfriends walk down the aisle. —Ed.
You’re not losing a girlfriend, you’re gaining a boyfriend.
Sometimes women complain that friendships end when their friend gets married. That’s probably true if the friendship is mostly rooted in activities that the “bride” no longer engages in. If she’s not going to the club anymore or has less time to hang out, then the friendship probably will end, or at least change. However, if there’s a real emotional connection, the friendship will be fine. If you genuinely like each other, marriage won’t change that. She’s still your girl.
Relax. Plus, if you like her husband, you just gained a new friend.
My sisterhood of spinsters (not that we ever called ourselves that) has changed. Some of my spinsters-in-crime have left the fold. Cindy, Lorraine, Nancy, and Pat are dear friends who were single way past the national average. I miss hanging out with them.
Oh, we still hang out, but not in that “maybe there’ll be some cute boys there” kind of way. I could always count on Lorraine for a party. Cindy and I had lots of dinners around town at trendy New York City restaurants, and Nancy even tricked me once into going away for the weekend to the Newport Folk Festival (I thought she said “Jazz Festival”). I could always count on Pat to be ready within minutes for a drink . . . or whatever else we thought up. Now they’re all married. Each one married late in life, and each married well. They were over 40, and though some would have preferred to do the deed earlier, I think they’re all pretty pleased with where they landed. I’m certainly pleased for them. Their stories actually help me view marriage more positively, since I think each one got the man she was supposed to have.
In the 1980s, a Newsweek article claimed that a study showed that a 40-year old, university-educated woman was more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to get married. That comparison was erroneous. Back then, such a woman had a mere 2.6 percent chance of getting married, true—but that was far higher than her odds of death by terrorist.
At any rate, speaking from my own personal experience, the folks I know who’ve gotten married later in life seem to have chosen very well. Their marriages truly seem to be the “till death do us part” type, whereas many weddings for those who are younger seem more like the “let’s cross our f!ngers” type.
Generally, weddings bore me. It’s kind of like watching the same play over and over and over, just with different actors. I go to weddings because I care about at least one of the people getting married, but I’m usually also trying to figure out a way to spend the least amount of time there as is appropriate.
But it’s a little different when my middle-aged friends get married: the wedding is still boring, but I’m happier for them. They had all managed to build pretty nice lives for themselves while single, so they weren’t getting married because they needed help getting set on life’s path. Their new spouses were chosen for all the ways they could enhance their lives, not because they were needed to help construct the life.
And, even better, these new spouses have also enhanced my life. I feel as if I’ve gained a bunch of new friends. I really like these guys. Although they’ve been useless in terms of introducing me to their single friends, I forgive them. Guys don’t like getting mixed up in matchmaking. For example, a woman I used to know introduced me to her new husband’s cousin, and it didn’t go well at all. Within five minutes of meeting him, I knew that this wouldn’t be any fun. He had cornrows and I hated his clothes (shirt and pants that matched like a small child’s outfit), and he walked as if he was looking for a fight. I think he thought I was a snob. Unfortunately, my friend and her husband had planned a whole day for the four of us. Awkward. The day felt two days long as we went from lunch at their house in New Jersey to the beach, stopping at a local fair on the way, and then on to dinner. I don’t think anybody really had any fun that day.
I think the only thing my “date” and I had in common was that we both knew the couple and we both were single. He had to know that nothing was going to come of this, and I honestly believe that he was no more interested in me than I was in him. But, being a man, I guess he figured he would try to see what he could get out of it, so he made a pass at me anyway. (Sigh.) My friend and her brand-new husband were a little annoyed with me for a while after that, because by the end of the evening I had stopped pretending that I was having a good time. So maybe all my friends’ new husbands know what they’re doing by just staying out of it. That’s where they draw the line in our new-found friendship.
Here’s another issue. When my friends get married, it makes more work for me. It is good for me to have a multitude of people I enjoy and whom I can call on to socialize with in any number of ways, and I’m now down by four. Their time is being taken up by their husbands (and child, in a couple of cases), so they have neither the time nor the inclination to come out and play with me in the same way as often as I would like. If I call them up and say “meet me in an hour for a drink,” the answer is likely to be some version of “no.” Even worse, a couple of them even had the audacity to move to another city with their new husbands. So our outings now require more forethought.
Many thanks to my single friends for remaining in the sisterhood with me! (You know who you are.) I need someone to come out and play with me.
And many thanks to my newly married girlfriends for bringing their guys into my life.
See? Two for the price of one.
Adapted from “The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Life Happily Single And Carefree.” Copyright © 2012 by Eleanore Wells. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Available at Amazon.com.