“Who needs marriage?” asks a recent cover of Time.
The reporter is examining the results of a joint Time magazine/Pew Research Center poll “exploring the contours of modern marriage and the new American family, posing questions about what people want and expect out of marriage and family life, why they enter into committed relationships and what they gain from them.”
In one part of the poll, respondents were asked about six objectives and whether marriage makes them easier or harder. They said marriage made each one easier (raising a family, having a fulfilling sex life, being financially secure, finding happiness and having social status) except one, getting ahead in a career.
Is this perception accurate?
Does marriage make it easier or harder to get ahead in your career?
Thinking about my own life, I can see how being single has made my work both easier and more challenging.
Since graduating from college, I have made choices to take jobs based mostly on where I felt called to go and what I felt called to do. I would take the advice of friends or considerations about my family into account, but ultimately the decision was up to me.
I prayed a lot about my decisions, but I did not have to ask a partner what he wanted for his life or what he might need from me. Nor did together we have to ask what was best for our family. I have met some amazing people and done some important things that I might not have been able to do as a married person
On the other hand, I have come to admire – and in some of my weaker moments, envy – the vow of stability. This promise has long been acknowledged as part of the monastic life, but I believe it is paralleled in the vocation to marriage. While you do not have as much freedom in one sense to make choice on one’s own, there is a freedom that comes from being grounded in a particular place and with a particular person or community that can allow for greater imagination by curtailing the paralysis of too many choices.
My life may be atypical, considering that I describe my work not as much as a career than it is a vocation to lay ministry. So I would be curious to hear what other people think about this question:
Does single life make pursuing a career easier than if you were married? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
No offense to Time magazine, but I think the more interesting question to ask is: What career, vocation or way of life will make it easier for me to be less selfish?