When one sees single and married men in the crowd, one can often fail to identify them as either married or single. However, a closer examination of their lifestyles can offer insights into the differences between the two. In this paper, we will try to define in what ways the lives of married and single men can be similar or different.
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A single man and a married man are, of course, similar in many ways. Both have interests in their lives that are outside of their family or love life. They are exploring various career options, enjoy a variety of pastimes, have friends to maintain relationships with, and so on. In attending to all these different matters, their lives may be in many ways similar, and their daily routines not that significantly different from each other. It is important that both can admire and appreciate women, and even have several relationships, although in the case of a married man this is a topic of high controversy.
However, the similarity ends at some point. First of all, a married man comes home to his family in the evening, while his single counterpart can pursue any activities he thinks fit. This means that a married person has some obligations to attend to, obligations to the woman who agreed to be his wife and children if there are any. Marriage changes the lifestyle and mentality, which is why married people are typically perceived as more worried, bound to certain locations and routines, requiring more funds to cover their needs, and so on. To many boasting a love of “free” life, to be married means to be shackled to a certain woman, bonded to her in a variety of ways. A single man can relocate at will, making the decision himself. Quite often, he can just pack his things and leave, disregard others’ opinion. How to spend an evening is not a matter to be seriously discussed with anybody. A serious relationship with a girlfriend can change this situation, but girlfriends are much easier to get rid of than legal wives.
This brings one to the discussion of the legal aspects of marriage. Getting married often gives the husband control of the wife’s property and financial assets and/ or vice versa; however, this differs from one society to another. This differentiates the married man who can hope to use his wife’s possessions to his own advantage while the single man has to rely on his own forces alone to provide sustenance. However, whatever a single man earned is his alone. In contrast, the married man has to reckon with the possibility of a costly divorce that will deprive him of his property or part of it. Many societies will stress the obligation of the husband to support wife and children; fewer impose such duties upon unmarried men even if they father children, and in any case, the link of fatherhood is more difficult to prove if there is no legal marriage between mother and father. Marital fidelity is another of the married man’s duties as “sex with a married person other than one's spouse, called adultery, is even less acceptable and has also often been criminalized” (Wikipedia, 2006). A married man has, therefore, to be careful in his relationships with other women because of the need to evade suspicion of adultery. In contrast, the sexual life of unmarried men is generally not regulated; their relationships with unmarried women are virtually nowhere sanctioned.
While enough has been said about the pitfalls awaiting the married man, there is also much to say in favor of such a situation. Although married men are restricted in their choice of sex partners, in general, “married people report higher levels of sexual satisfaction than both sexually active singles and cohabiting couples, according to the most comprehensive and recent survey of sexuality” (Popenoe, Whitehead, 2004). Among married men, 48% were pleased with their sex life, against 37% among cohabiting ones. Scholars expressed conjectures that this improvement in sex life was caused by higher commitment between partners, as “marital commitment contributes to a greater sense of trust and security, less drug and alcohol-infused sex, and more mutual communication between the couple” (Popenoe, Whitehead, 2004). In contrast, single men often face frequent changes of partners that do not contribute to their satisfaction in sex life. Besides, temporary gaps in sexual intercourse are frequent, further reducing this satisfaction.
Even more important is the difference in love and emotional support received by a single man versus the married one. There is no doubt that most successful marriages will provide the man with a warm and supportive atmosphere that can serve as a reliable background for great accomplishments. Married men share with their spouses their troubles and problems, joys and achievements, always having someone by the side to listen to the account of how one spent the day. In return, they nevertheless have to behave in the same way toward their wives, expressing interest and concern for their daily problems. This is true for successful marriages, however, since in an unfortunate relationship the husband may lack adequate understanding and have to face even a greater emotional burden than the one a single man has to carry. Such marriages in contemporary environments with the simplicity of divorce proceedings tend to break quickly, offering both spouses ways to escape from such marriage. Single men do not face any additional emotional stress from the relationship with the partner. In contrast, many of them have to endure loneliness, and when they face a serious problem, the number of people who can help often does not include the partner. Most of the time, they have to meet their ups and downs alone. They do not have to be supportive to anyone; in return, no one has to offer them emotional support and help.
Thus, the lives of married and single men working in the same company and sharing the same interests can be in many ways similar. However, the life of a married man is more complex because this person will incur many responsibilities and obligations in return for the serious benefits of marriage. The married man has to agree on the course of his life with his wife and bear legal responsibilities to her and the children. At the same time, a successful marriage will return for these obligations many benefits that will be missing the lives of single men. Greater satisfaction in sexual life, reliance on emotional support and opportunity to involve somebody in one’s life are all associated with married life.
- Popenoe, D., & B.D. Whitehead. (2004, November). The National Marriage Project: Information Brief. Ten Important Research Findings on Marriage and Choosing a Marriage Partner (Helpful Facts for Young Adults). Retrieved July 17, 2006
- Wikipedia. Marriage. Retrieved July 17, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage#Rights_and_obligations_relating_to_marriage
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