By Greg Price
In celebration of our special section on family which came out this week, I’ve decided to do an overview of my own spot in my family dynamic.
Apparently I’m not as odd as I think I am…at least statistically speaking.
What made me start this self examination in my family tree is a comment by a niece from Edmonton when I went to visit my sister and brother-in-law. She blurted out as most kids tend to do who haven’t reached double digits in age and have no well-formed filters yet.
“Why don’t you have a wife and kids Uncle Greg? You’re very nice to me.”
I was both flattered that my niece admitted her warm feelings towards me, but also a tad taken back that maybe my niece thought there must be something wrong with me.
Fear actually at that moment began to envelope me.
Was I ‘that guy’ in the family tree? The weird single guy who undid his pants after a hearty Thanksgiving dinner, reclining in a chair, flossing his teeth with a plucked hair? The tin-foiled hat conspiracy theorist who thinks Wal-Mart pricing is a secret code for alien invasion domination? The unbuttoned velour shirt with gold chains in tow, hitting on women half my age, accompanied by too much cologne with the stench of desperation?
It made me do some self examination of my standing in my extended family and exactly why past 40, I still haven’t tied the knot.
I have no issue against the institution of marriage, I’ve seen plenty of loving, successful ones in my life…but I’ve also seen the other side of the coin.
Not just marriages, but relationships where the couple seemed to fight more than they were happy. Depending on what research you cite, it does look like nowadays four to five out of 10 first marriages end in divorce in Canada. Are many people just driven by this marriage expectation where the fear of being alone is greater than the fear of being an unhappy couple?
I’ll admit, I’m fiercely opinionated at times and that stubbornness probably doesn’t coincide well with compatibility with a significant other. Although, I’ve found I’ve mellowed in my ‘old age’ as of late, in that I pick and choose my battles a little more carefully as opposed to charging head first into every debate.
I do admit, even since high school I haven’t been the most confident around women.
My sense of humour and ‘nice guyness’ has netted me plenty of girl friends, but relationships with ‘girlfriends for a prolonged time I’d put in single digits which really is not much when you consider I’ve had 23 years of prime dating time.
I can’t see a fear of eventually having kids as being a deterrent to what Beyonce refers to as ‘Put a Ring on It.’ Given my juvenile sense of humour and what some would refer to as my maturity level at times…I’m a hit with kids and I love kids.
Examining my physical features, while I will never see my face on GQ, I don’t think I’m at the level of ‘a face for radio’ that sends small children into frightful tears and the village folk grabbing their pitchforks.
As far as being a ‘provider’ goes, I probably do not offer much in that aspect.
I’ve always been a proponent of doing something you love more than how much money it makes, but if you can have both then kudos to you. But if you truly hate your job, no matter how much money it makes, that hate will likely seep into your personal relationships. But working in the newspaper biz, it’s not like I’m sleeping on a mattress of $100 bills.
Although my relationships have been short term for the most part, I wouldn’t say I’m ‘commitment phobic.’ I was the guy consoling the cheerleader who got dumped by the quarterback in high school, I was the guy who wrote poetry in college. I’ve been labeled the ‘nice, sweet guy’ so I do not exactly fit intO the howl at the moon, Hugh Hefner womanizing type.
As my niece made the inquiry about sill not being in wedlock, maybe that fear came up because of the whispers that start for men around my age that are still single. Those associated with guys that have windowless, rusted-out 70s’ vans with ‘Free Candy’ splashed on the side with duct tape. Or perhaps of a guy that may be a little light in the loafers (but in the infamous words of Seinfeld in the episode of The Outing….‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that.’)
But as numbers are showing, those stereotypes are fading away. I do have male cousins in my family tree whose branches are still single and they are older than me.
While still not common overall, our number are increasing.
A Canadian census taken in 2006, showed 51.5 per cent of the Canadian population over 15 years old was not married, the first time there has been more unmarried people than married people since the census was first taken way back in 1871. I found it hard to find Canadian statistics for unmarried men over 40 in Canada, but I know the percentage is increasing, and in the Untied States there are 12 million single men over 40 years old.
But, I’m a Virgo and according to the very precise science of astrology in its generalities, I can be over analytical and maybe no examination is needed form my niece’s observation.
Some people are just not as lucky in love as others. Sometimes the journey takes longer than others. But in the end, the destination is the same, being happy with whatever station you have in life.
All I know is I won’t simply be in a relationship for fear of being alone. When I have dated and am dating someone now quite happily, it is to build on the good things I already have, not to try and fill something I feel is missing. Because, in my heart, I don’t feel alone. I have a job I’m proud of, and I have great family and friends.
Who knows, maybe this 40-year-old bachelor will eventually tie the knot, maybe it will never be in the cards for me.
But I am simply content with the notion that whatever relationship that I have or may come my way, be it son, brother, uncle, friend, boyfriend, husband or father, I will try and do it to the best of my ability as I enjoy this thing called life.