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Mary E. Vandenack: Living Single


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Every year, when the February issue comes around, I have a lot of anxiety about writing my column for the issue. As a single person for whom a long-term special relationship has been elusive, I feel unqualified in many respects to write about love, at least the romantic variety. I will never experience the beauty of a sixty-year marriage between two people who care about each other immensely and have shared a rich history. On the other hand, I have found happiness as a single person. Don’t get me wrong. Like most of us, I would love to find that heart stopping relationship. The fact is that while I had a beautiful experience with my soulmate (who lost his battle to health), I don’t have a long-term, romantic relationship, but I am happy. I built myself a good life and chose not to put my life on hold until I met the right person. I decided to write a column this year for those that are single. You can be happy as a single person... and you may well find more happiness than many that are in troubled relationships.

A comment I often hear from singles is, “there is no one out there.” I am amused by that statement because there are many of us “out there.” For the first time in US history, there are more homes headed by single individuals than married individuals. I am very confident that pretty much anyone who wants to be in a relationship can be. It isn’t that there is no one out there. It is simply that we are becoming more selective about relationships that we enter into. That is a good thing.

When I was newly single, I had dinner with a long-time friend of my father. My dad’s friend had lost his wife of 35 years and had remarried quickly. He said to me, “You know Mary, there is nothing better than a great marriage. The next best thing is being single. The most challenging situation is that of being in a bad relationship.”

I recall the eighteen months that my dad was dying. At the time, I was married but the marriage was at its rock bottom moment. It was the loneliest period of my life. People assumed I had support because I was married. The fact is those 18 months were a long walk alone down a very dark hall.


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