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8 Reasons Marriage Doesn't Matter

We women are smart enough to know that a wedding ring won’t make us happy any more than a white dress will make us a virgin.

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PS: This dirty weekend is supposed to be with each other…just in case that wasn’t clear.

2. If you plan ahead, it won’t matter when you’re sick

Nicky Grist, executive director of the  Alternatives to Marriage Project, says that especially this week -- National Health Care Decisions Awareness week -- people should know that marital status or family-of origin relationships need not have anything to do with who sees you in the hospital or how medical decisions are made when you can’t make them.

“Every adult in America has the right to name who is allowed to make a medical decision for them and even who can visit them in the hospital,” she says, but few people assert it. “Only about 20-30 percent of Americans have written an advance directive that says this is the person who can make a medical decision for me that I can’t make for myself.”

ATMP's Hospital Rights page will give you information and links for advance directive forms. If you want to feel ironclad you can get a lawyer to do it, otherwise you can use these forms, which Nicky says is, "very very easy and it’s free.”

You can find out more about advance directives and the Patient Self-Determination Act on the  American Bar Association Web site. One question there that caught my eye was  whether doctors will recognize an advance directive. David N. Hoffman, general council at the Wycoff Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY, says that while a doctor can refuse treatment on moral or religious grounds it is the responsibility of the hospital to then get another doctor who will respect the patient’s wishes…whether they are given by the patient or through a proxy designated by an advance directive. So you’re covered.

3. Women who never married

Oprah Winfrey, Jane Austen, Joan of Arc, Coco Chanel, Condoleezza Rice and Queen Elizabeth I.

I don’t know Oprah Winfrey but I doubt she participates in bouquet tosses while thinking, “Sure, I can make or break people’s careers with the twitch of an eye but without a ring on my finger I might as well be dead.”

And before you say “I’m no Oprah,” well, Oprah wasn’t always Oprah either, but she didn’t become Oprah by feeling bad about her different life path. There was a great line in the film The Libertine, in which an actress snubs a would-be Lothario with the phrase, "Better my certain glory than your uncertain love.” Our glory might not be certain but self-determination can be a helluva consolation prize.

4. Women who did get married

Kate Gosselin, Britney Spears, Anne Boleyn,  Doreen Lioy (to convicted serial killer Richard Ramirez in prison), thousands of couples in a simultaneous, arranged  Unification Church wedding, underage girls in  arranged fundamentalist Mormon weddings, and two 7-year-old Indian girls to frogs.

Do these things mean that marriage is bad? Of course not. It’s just an illustration that it doesn’t solve everything. Even the frogs went back to their ponds.

5. In sickness and in health

There are various reports, like  this one in Time magazine, that marriage can be better for your health, and fair enough, but even those sometimes have caveats -- the Time story says more married people are "likely to be overweight or obese" and that "the stress of a bad marriage can undo much of the good that comes with a happy one."

An Israeli study of 10,000 men found that single men had a 64 percent higher risk of dying than happily married men…but unhappily married men had the same risk (the report is preliminary says UPI). And an  Australian study of 2,300 people over 60 found that “divorced, widowed and single women in older age seem to be healthier than their married counterparts." Men’s health didn’t correlate to their marital status but the status of women who were separated but not divorced was worse than other groups of women.

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