Katie: They Do -- And They Don't...

(CBS)
The news that, for the first time, more women in America are unmarried than married, has had many people talking this week.

Since I am a member of this new majority — albeit not of my choosing — it caught my attention. I know all the reasons for this trend. Women are more financially independent, so they need a man's paycheck less. They're living with their boyfriends, perhaps trepidatious about walking down the aisle given the high divorce rate. Speaking of divorce, the desire to stay together for the sake of the kids, coupled with society's growing acceptance of divorced parents, has made calling it quits much more commonplace.

According to the New York Times, many older women who lose their husbands eventually become marriage-averse, celebrating their newfound freedom instead of looking for a second Mr. Right. Since the divorce rate for second marriages is even higher than for first marriages, some are eschewing the concept of the "blended family" and choosing to live the "Brady Bunch" fantasy through TV re-runs only. Instead, they keep their domiciles and parenting responsibilities separate, and arrange their love lives accordingly.

The Mary Richards out there are not the anomaly she was back in the 1970's. Work isn't something women do until they snag a husband. On the contrary, it's often something they care about, and are committed to.

There's less embarrassment about being single these days. The term "old maid" is pretty much relegated to a card game. But in a culture in which we are still raised on the notion of romantic love and happily ever after, I still think many women want love, companionship, someone they can beat in Scrabble (okay, not always, but often) someone with whom they can share their day and life. Women understand a relationship has to be worked on, to be sure, but not abandoned when you get on each other's last nerve or there's a crisis big or small.

But as Carrie Bradshaw might write in her "Sex and the City" column: "Is old-fashioned love still possible in the modern world?" With so many options, so much to do, so much to pack in our lives, do we even have time? Are our Cinderella fantasies so unrealistic that we are seduced by romantic love, as ethereal as a puff of pink cotton candy, only to see it dissolve once we pull it off the paper cone and pop it in our mouths?

Life is all about choices: the ones you make and the ones that are somehow made for you. Everyone has their own definition of happiness or contentment. But when I see my parents, soon celebrating their 63rd wedding anniversary, caring for each other as they endure various medical issues, loving each other (and yes, at times, bickering too) it makes me wonder. If we could combine the commitment and endurance of my parent's generation and the freedom and choices of mine, maybe we would have the best of both worlds.
  • Katie Couric

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