I feel lucky to have been married.

It was a sunny and humid day. I was meeting up with a friend and one of her friends was pet-sitting at a house nearby.

“Let’s go hang out with her there, and relax in the pool,” my friend suggested.

“Sure. I won’t swim, but I’m down for hanging out,” I replied.

And as it goes when women get together, the topic inevitably heads towards men and relationships.

My friend’s friend was filling us in in her dating woes, and the two of them were having a fun time in the pool reading texts from one guy, while I was sitting on a lounge chair in the shade, listening to them.

After a while, the friend turned to me and asked me my current dating stories.

“I’m divorced,” I said, “and not currently in a relationship.”

Her eyebrows raised.

“Whoa, ok. So you actually went through the whole marriage schbang already. You’re way ahead of us. You don’t need to get married again if you don’t want to.”

I don’t remember what I said to make her come to this conclusion, but she was right.

I DON’T have the need, or the urge, to marry again. Because I’ve already done all that once.

Marriage is like a rite of passage. Mostly everyone thinks about it in some form or another, waiting for the day it comes his or her turn. Maybe women more than men.

The location, colors, number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, WHO’S going to be the bridesmaids and groomsmen, who to invite, what decorations, what kind of flowers/entertainment, chicken or fish… all that jazz.

I already went through all of that.

And frankly, given the two status choices at my age, to be divorced or not having been married before, I feel lucky to be the former.

Because those who have never been married, and who want to be, seem to have this intense yearning, especially as the years go by.
The longing, the desperation, the uncertainty of will it ever happen, all those emotions just swirling around.

That’s why all these reality shows about finding love are such a hit. Indian Matchmaking. Temptation Island. Bachelor/Bachelorette. 90 Day Fiance/Before the 90 Days/Pillow Talk/Whatever-Else-Spinoff.

It’s entertaining but also tugs at our heartstrings as well. Who doesn’t want happy endings for those people searching for love? Because they aren’t paid actors. They are regular people just like us, who go through ups and downs, and at the end of the day, we just want them to be together and happy so it gives us a bit of hope that we will eventually find our own too.

Because I’ve already went through the rite of passage, even though it’s no longer, I feel so much freer. There’s less pressure from myself to get hitched, and a lot easier to buck societal convention and think about what I truly want.

Do I even want to get married? Or have kids? Or live according to widely accepted principles?

And honestly speaking, it seems the status of divorce is slightly higher than the single-never-been-married status.

It’s bullshit thinking, but as one gets up there in age, society puts them in categories. If you happen to be someone who’s supposed to be married but not, and you’ve never been, society deems you as something inferior.

Being married at a certain point somehow makes you more capable and smarter. Maybe because it seems like someone actually found you worthwhile to marry, and so the thinking is you can’t be that bad of a person. And because of that, you should be smarter, more capable and responsible, able to make better decisions, etc. The halo effect.

My ex-husband used to say his clients and boss take him more seriously when they see a ring on his finger. I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of hardship and stigma for a divorced woman too, especially a divorced woman at a certain age, who’s not remarried or partnered up, and with no kids. My thoughts and opinions are second-guessed; people think they can encroach on my agency and say I should do this or feel that based on my status.

It used to bother me what conventional society thought, and that’s one of the things that made me stay in the relationship far longer than I should have. But now, I’ve learned to thicken up my skin and internalized that sooner or later, everyone dies. Even the judgmental ones. And when I’m on my deathbed, I don’t want to look back and wonder what my life could have been if I was brave enough to follow my heart.

Bucking norms was a really hard lesson to learn, and going through it without much support was extremely tough. But, I’m proud of my resilience, and I’m proud of finding my dignity more and more through loving who I am instead of relying on external validation.

In choosing between divorced or never been married, I feel lucky to be divorced.