Womanhood-Motherhood (by Roya Monajem)

CHAPTER Nine

THE CASE OF UNMARRIED WOMEN

 

Unmarried women can be divided into two groups. A very small minority whose number is increasing specially among Americans chose to stay single, because they count their profession more important. They are those who may in future give rise to that generation of women that because they use another medium other than their womb for their creativity, may produce that male type of innovation, artistry and mental activity so far limited to men. The second group are those who apparently never found the right person. The first group will not as much problem as the latter, since their decision is a voluntary decision, while the latter can not look at the picture in this way, but in fact in their case too, it is a decision, but an unconscious one, at least according to our system of thought.

By now it should be clear that lack of something in our environment would imply that it either has no existence in our inner world or there is something in this world that repels it and keeps it out of our outside world. This is where unmarried women of the second group should start, particularly if they wish to change their life. They should go through a thorough search in their psyche on different planes.

The first plane to look at is their personal view about marriage.  Most often it is full of known and unknown fears, originating mainly from the experience of their parents relationship.  Most often they are the children of unhappy marriages, and not only that, but the majority of other marriages around them (older brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, family friends etc.) have not been any better.  So they have reached the conclusion--sometimes consciously, but most often unconsciously--that all marriages are doomed to fail, or something like that, so why should start something that has proven to be a painful experience.  As the result of such a conclusion they will unconsciously either avoid any serious relationship with the opposite sex, or they only start a relationship that they “intuitively know would not work out.” The latter is more common than the first, for two main reasons: first because Nature is much stronger than our individual code of conduct and relationship with the opposite sex is a powerful natural need both physically and emotionally, a need that can not be easily quelled as the experience of celibacy among Christians has shown. Secondly, and mainly as the result of the above fact, since we are attracted to the opposite sex, we tend to suppress the fear formed earlier and send it to the back of our mind as a long forgotten memory. But the truth is that it is not ‘forgotten.’

In my clinical experience, both as a therapist and consultant, I have not yet seen any single woman, past the age of 24 or 25, with a positive view about marriage. The fact that they might long for a relationship and even start it, does not necessarily imply that they have positive views about such a relationship. (This longing is the result of that natural tendency whose presence usually misleads us and acts as a veil to cover our deep rooted views). However, once we start analyzing their views about men and marriage, then all the hidden fears and negative attitudes start to come to the surface.  Thus the ‘prescription’ for their case is : unfold your fears, resolve them, and afterwards, everything will start to work out smoothly. 

Please note that we are not dealing with those women who consciously choose not to marry, not out of fear, but because they consider their professional life as the most important aspect of their lives, and do not want to get involved with anything that might act as a hindrance in this respect.  We are dealing with women who  ‘think’ that they do want to get married, settle down, have children, etc, but in reality they deeply fear it. Depending on the extent and intensity of this fear they will either ‘never meet the right person’, or they unconsciously would start a relationship with a man who is not ‘the marrying type.’  I have seen many such relationships lasting for years -- sometimes up to 15--20 years -- until the woman finally “gives up.”  All this time she lives with the illusion that it is the man who does not want to marry and if she waits enough, he will change his mind and will marry her.  But no one who really is clear about his/her goals, will act this way.  A woman whose main goal is to marry, either never starts a relationship with such a man, or if she does, it is not going to last long.  She would very soon sense that the man has no intention to marry and it will be only a waste of time.  She will not deceive herself.  Self-deception is for those of us who are not sure of what they want, and the root of doubt is always fear.

To be with a man that openly or discreetly resists marriage, would itself be a sufficient evidence of our own resistance, as outside is always a reflection of the inside. One of the best, but at the same time the most deceitful ways to avoid marriage is to start a relationship, which would not end in marriage.

Any woman who has not yet succeeded in establishing an appropriate relationship with the opposite sex should know that most probably she is harboring some sort of negative view and fears of men and marriage. They should sit down and with a great deal of honesty and sincerity discover these very fears and doubts, work them out, and then get ready to find their life companion for the first time.  All my friends and clients who took these advises seriously, and worked on their fears and negative attitudes perseveringly, have reached many interesting conclusions, and have transformed their life.  First, change your net charge (which determines the level of your existence and thus the nature of your experiences in life) by a thorough self-analysis, with the help of taking a personal inventory of both your strengths and weaknesses, and then work on them. Secondly, look at your views about man, woman, marriage and motherhood (see the preceding chapters). Abandon any possible religio-cultural discriminations and prejudices you might have in this respect. Finally come to the realization that it is only you who can fulfil your needs and no parasitic, symbiotic or co-dependent relationship can ever bring you happiness and satisfaction in life.  This has been the main reason for the failure of the majority of marriages around you, and if you work toward dissolving your fears and negative views, find your own strength and weaknesses, which naturally leads to your maturation, then there is no need to fear anything in life.  Never forget the fact that life is our friend and not our enemy, even when it appears to work against us.  We usually don’t leave her (life) any other alternative. Even then, it is in fact protecting us from something worse.  A helpful analogy here is when parents scold and even punish their children; their true intention is to protect them and not harm them, although the child may not understand them and thus interpret their action as a sign of enmity.

Now suppose you take all this trouble and still you find yourself alone.

As mentioned earlier, the situation under study can be viewed from different perspective.  First of all, once ‘you have taken all the above trouble’ you will definitely find a change in the quality of your life, it will be more joyous and fulfilling, since it is no longer full of hidden fears, doubts, prejudices and other negative attitudes, which make ‘all that trouble’ worthwhile and valuable.

Secondly, you can now be sure that due to some other reasons, that even if you are not aware of them now, will be known to you in time, you have chosen to travel alone in the path of life.  Your final life-goal, for which you were born, demands you to go through a specific path, which you should know that is also the shortest and easiest path for you to reach your goal.  It might not appear ‘easy’ at all.  But you are not yet in this position to judge, since you still are not aware of not only the reasons, but also the nature of your goal.  For example, in my case, I remember very well that since my early adolescence, I kept telling myself, “I do not want to choose the paths that the majority of people choose.  Observing them will teach me enough about the nature of those paths.  I want to take a path different from the majority so that together with the lessons learnt by observing the majority, I will learn more about life.”  I kept telling myself that I want to know what the meaning of life is, even if such revelation happens just a few ours before my death. One of my other ‘aspirations’ was to get familiar with human pains and sufferings.  So it is not at all surprising that my life turned to be one of the most dramatic stories, full of pains and sufferings, so much so that by the age of forty there was almost no human pain and suffering left that had not touched me somehow.  When my main goal, the goal I was born for (as far as I can speculate), had been cognition and knowledge of life, then it is very natural that I had to pay a high price through living a rather difficult life.  For a long time I could not understand why I made so many mistakes and repeated some of them over and over again.  How else could I learn what I wanted to learn, if not by making mistakes, choosing the “wrong paths”, etc.?  And by learning, I just do not mean the intellectual, rational knowledge.  I mean learning with my own skin and flesh, with my heart and soul.  There were times that I regretted my choice, but after giving myself some moments to moan and play the role of the ‘living martyr,’ I always came to the conclusion that I did not wish to be in place of any other person other than myself.  In markets, the price we pay is determined by what we want to buy (gain).  Precious things (lessons, experiences) of course have an expensive price.  The price I paid was extremely high, but I bought this book with it!

To go back to our main discussion, there is another group of women who do not marry because, their essential goal in life, the lessons they wanted to learn, demands them to stay single.  However, the mere knowledge of this fact may still not lessen their pain.  In other words, they might not suffer similar fears, worries and anxieties or negative views. What can actually relieve them significantly, is to find out about the probable reasons for their choice.  For that they need to ask themselves, what might have been their life goal?  What they want from life?  What lessons they want (and still want) to learn? There is no absolute no unalterable fate or destiny. We do have the power to change any aspect of our lives if not satisfactory on one simple condition: to be prepared to pay the necessary price for such a change. To be ready to take all the necessary risks that such a change that in fact is a personality change requires.  To be prepared to face all the possible consequences? Remember: “it is not possible to will both God and date (palm fruit)” as an old Iranian proverb says.

Once we truthfully explore our true aspirations, wills and wishes, then lots of illusions and self-deceptions and lies that we tell ourselves, will fade away.  And for the first time, we are ready to take full responsibility for the life we have chosen.

It should again be emphasized that nothing forces us to stick to our original goal (personality), if meanwhile we do not find it satisfactory for any reason –i.e. worth the price we are paying.  The only thing we need to know is that any choice has a specific price and has its own gains and losses.  That is all.  For example, when discussing the subject of child raising, we said it is comparable to the path of mystics, and its hardship can be seen as a kind of ordeal.  The ordeal of a childless woman, who at the same time longs to have a child, can be this bitter fact that she does not have a child.  But at the same time, she is free of many other pains, limitations and sufferings that mothers go through.  From this angle, their differences consists in the form of their ‘losses and gains,’ and not the content, which in both cases is a certain amount of pain and suffering and also satisfaction. Awareness is always healing, as it helps us to accept the responsibility of our initial choices.

There are actually no ‘losers’ in this world. We are all ‘winners.’  In contrast to the old prevalent universal view, Life is not a struggle, but a working tool for attainment of awareness. How else can we experience Being, if not through living a life? How else can we experience Bliss if not by experiencing its opposite, Sorrow? In our basic ‘philosophy of opposites’ which is still our sole way of understanding and interpreting all the phenomena of Life and Universe, it is not possible to experience anything without simultaneously experiencing its opposite or complementary pole. Our problem is that we refuse to accept this very simple truth. Once we enable ourselves to accept the basic laws of life (every choice has a price, and “it is not possible to will both God and date”), once we enable ourselves to consider our life experiences all in the service of our struggle to reach our existential goals, then there is no such a thing as ‘loss.’ Everything is ‘gain’ and ‘achievement.’ With such a view of life, we will no longer suffer from our pains and sufferings.  At most, we would consider them as the ‘cold winters’ of life that we know will be followed by beautiful springs.

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