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Dear Married Women

Sometimes it is about living without putting all your expectations about your happiness, well-being and comfort, on someone else’ s shoulders.

Art & Words by Fanitsa Petrou


Dear Married Women: if you don’ t come into the marriage having your own money, always ALWAYS work. Always be financially independent. Even though as a married woman you are likely to have a second job, (and a third and a fourth and a tenth): that of the cleaning woman, cook, nurse, taxi driver, general care provider, party organiser, teacher, and possibly "sex worker" (and it IS sex WORK when you don’ t feel like it but you close your eyes and allow it to happen just because you are financially dependent on your husband….) the minute you get home from work there is sadly, tragically, just no alternative: you need to have your own money if you don’ t want to be reduced into a child, asking for an allowance to buy a blouse or go to the doctor. If you want your choices to be based on what you believe, feel, desire, need, rather than what you are “allowed” to have by your “provider”; If you don’ t want to be compromised on every step of the way, by becoming dependant on someone else who will get to have a say in who, and what you are, and in what you need, want, do, or are permitted to have. Which is another way of saying: Don’ t lose your power as an individual, and don’t treat a guy as your ATM. Don’ t exchange financial stability with the granting of sexual favours when you don’ t actually feel like it. Don’ t provide cleaning / cooking services in exchange for money and social approval. Because there are other choices available to modern-day women. And because it alters your relation with your husband (and yourself!) and steals away your options, your integrity and makes you get used to compromises. And that’s no good. In short, rethink the foundation of your marriage.

When things turn sour, stop trying to “save” your marriage at all costs. And stop assuming that you are the one who must always pay these costs. Which is to say: stop wanting to be married so much, that your life becomes a series of indignities. If your marriage is no longer working for you or your partner, stop trying so hard to hold on to a man you no longer love, or loves you, just because you cannot imagine yourself alone, as anything other than being married, or as an independent grown up individual who supports her own self. And if living with your husband has become unbearable, stop thinking that unless he cheats on you, you shouldn't go for a divorce... Being cheated on is not the only reason to escape something that has become your prison...

If your life has become an endless effort to compete with other women, and your days an endless race to eliminate the signs of time or fat from your body, as if you being you, is just not enough any more, know that you are not loved as you deserve – as any human being deserves! You are scared because you know it in your heart. That is why you spend all your spare time trying to reverse Time and gravity. It is not just futile, it is above all, degrading and definitely not worth it. Stop it. Let it go. It’ s over! Face it! And not because you’ ve aged, but because he never did love you even as a young woman. Because that’ s the funny thing about love: your beloved is to your eyes always lovable…

And if your love life has reached a point when you are in urgent need of marriage counsellors, and life coaches, and sex “to-do” lists, and sex shops, and Kama sutra-like manuals, then maybe it is time to call it a day. Because it should’ t have to be so much work: if each other’ s bodies and spirits are no longer enough, and you start needing new hair colours and new plastic body parts and an entire new underwear wardrobe that would in actual fact work as a disguise to give him the impression he is fucking a completely different woman, and if you start needing props, and mechanical limps and special medication and whatnot, or you both start needing to pretend you are other people whom you pick up in bars and the like in order to endure having sex with each other, how about you cut the middle man and just go be with actual other people already?!

Also, if your husband is just not intellectually and emotionally capable of understanding or enjoying activities that do not involve beer, naked women, or big men passing each other a ball, (or video games that include all of the above), why do you insist on dragging him to theatres, and flea or farmers’ s markets, Swedish cinema marathons, mind / body / spirit fairs, concerts, and Art shows, and strawberry picking activities, and shopping sprees, and discount hunts, and supermarkets even? Why do you torture the poor bastard? Just let him be. You married him knowing what / who he was after all, so just endure it, as every other married woman on the planet does… And how about you stop pretending that you like going to ball games with him too? Or doing that thing he likes so much in bed which makes you feel like a piece of shit? Stop pretending to be someone you are not. Because you shouldn’ t have to. Just do as the song says : “why don’t you be you, and I’ll be me?” which I have always found to be sound advice…

Do remember that despite popular belief, your life choice is a not the Holy Grail of happiness, as you well know in your heart of hearts - you know, when you are laying in your bed at night, staring at the ceiling, making lists about the next day’ s thankless chores, realising that another identical groundhog day awaits you, that will feel exactly like the one you have been having for decades, your thoughts being punctuated by the snoring of the man beside you; or when you drive aimlessly across town with the radio blasting corny 80’s ballads (I’ m guessing Air Supply. Or possibly, Celine Dion) taking loops at the roundabout pretending you are waiting for the song to end, but really trying to avoid going back home, because this is the only time you have the right to be on your own with your own thoughts for five minutes, without anyone asking you to do something for them, or making you feel guilty for not doing it. If you cannot understandably admit to it, because then you would be forced to take a look at your life, at least stop acting all superior in the company of your single friends, just because you have chosen a certain kind of life that maybe for them is not ideal, but is in fact, the equivalent of a prison sentence without hope of parole).

And how about you stop bragging on social media about your "wonderful hubby" having taken your kids for two hours on a Saturday morning to the park, so that you could go and have your hair done? Given that he is not a baby sitter, and he is most definitely NOT doing you a favour: he is their fucking parent and this is his actual job as one. By "giving" you 2 hours to take a breath and feel like a human being, he is not proving that he is a "wonderful" husband, but on the contrary, that he is a major asshole, excuse my French....

And stop having boring, but carefully planned dinner parties with other married couples you hate, but for some weird, twisted reason want to impress nevertheless. Rethink your priorities! Take a good long hard look at yourself and who you’ ve become. Find out who you are as yourself, and not just as someone’ s wife / mother. Find who you are as a person NOW. Stop having the same taste in music, movies, books, politics you had the minute you got married, as if time has frozen on your wedding day.

Update your dreams, your goals, your life philosophy, your references (not just your hair colour and wardrobe!) Stop living in the same mental decade in which you were proposed to. The world has actually evolved in more ways than it now includes Facebook!

Speaking of which, do something other than spend ALL your spare time on Facebook, or in beauty regimes. Look inside for answers, not in self-help books and saccharine platitudes. Find something meaningful and important to you personally (as an individual, not a wife / mother) that does not involve bragging about your supposedly perfect family life on social media. And think about why is it so important to you when your loved ones (your parents, children, husband) celebrate a birthday or a special occasion, to make public announcement on social media, instead of privately? Why isn’ t it enough to declare your love and appreciation to their face, looking into their eyes, but you have this need to have all your friends as well as a bunch of random strangers become witnesses to the fact? Take a minute to contemplate on what it REALLY means.

Also, keep in mind, your way of life may be what most people consider to be the “norm” for heterosexual women, but is not the only norm out there. Given that at least in the Western World, (and at least theoretically) women are no longer seen as properties to be passed from father to husband. If you think that being married is the only way for a woman to live her life, don’ t assume that all women think that. And don’ t assume that being married is an accomplishment and being single a misfortune. Don’ t assume your life is better than that of your single friends. Maybe some of them need more complex things than a guy across the dinner table. Maybe your life is not a source of jealousy for them but rather, a cautionary tale...

And if you had made a bad choice of a husband, you double-relinquish the right to shame your single friends for their lifestyle: I bet they too have met horrible, immature, cheating, boring and cheap men who lack intelligence, manners or empathy and who are really bad at sex. They just didn’ t find it necessary to attach their entire lives (and the lives of their children) to them. Maybe they ought to be congratulated and not shamed…

Even though as married women you belong in the majority, and everything around you (from religion and legislation, to pop culture) validates, celebrates and rewards your time-honoured choices and lifestyle, don’ t assume there are no alternative ones out there available and chosen consciously by women who value their independence. And even though you are just not used to hearing the “other” side of the story, because those who want to tell it often get tired of the backlash and end up shutting up because it is assumed to be a bitter tale of shame and loneliness and regret, I’ m here to tell it is not. I'm here to add it to the narrative of female existence. To say it is valid!

And by the way, you have no right to feel upset, angry or hurt by reading all this. Given that the world daily validates your own choices (even when your heart doesn't any more) and you next to never get to see the other side (that of your single friends whom you possibly have shamed without a second thought and possibly without even realising it) on a number of occasions...

You may not be exactly used to seeing how your own lifestyle is being viewed from the other side of the mountain (which is to say by many single women), or having your life choices being questioned by anyone, and so what follows - I get it - may come as a shock. Yet do consider how this “other” side is daily being viewed (and treated) by you: how you tend to see single women as the cultural archetype of the dark (in fact hideous) side of womanhood. And how by shaming them and being condescending towards them, you are in actual fact exorcising your own worst fear: that you could have become them - if only you were not "saved" by a man – and how you find the idea of independence as frankly appalling. How you are considered legitimated in calling all single women “old maids”, “spinsters”, “cat ladies” (even when they don't even like cats…), “hags”, etc, (or indeed “CRAZY old maids”, “CRAZY spinsters”, “CRAZY cat ladies” “CRAZY hags” etc) and all kinds of other pejorative things and how this is seen pretty much by everyone, as perfectly fine. Consider also that this form of discrimination is as cruel and stupid as any other form of discrimination aimed at a specific group, and how it is also so pervasive, so entrenched in our societies, so much allowed (unlike all other forms of discrimination which are seen as cruel at least by some!) that it doesn’t even have a name. It is the discrimination nobody dares to talk about. A heterosexual woman who chooses not to marry is in fact the last taboo!

Stop being condescending to all single women, shaming them, telling them they too need to get married is what I'm saying. For the simple reason that they would never tell you, you NEED to get a divorce (even when they do actually think you do need to!). Because you know, it’s your life… But do take a minute to think about how you would find it to be utterly upsetting, outrageous, intrusive, hurtful and generally speaking a sign that they are not really your friends if they did say that. Now, how come you don’ t see that this is how you make them feel, when you constantly tell them their life choices are not valid, and they SHOULD replicate yours?

And if your single friends have dreams that don’ t involve your version of family life, it is not because they are not married, or because they can’ t get married. Maybe they are not married BECAUSE they had dreams that didn’ t involve your version of family life.

If they are successful in their chosen profession, if they have interests, passions, expectations, dreams, ambitions, and the desire to continue to learn new skills, and explore new possibilities, it is again, not because they are husbandless, It’ s because they believe they can! And because they need to!

If they have dogs, it’ s not because they are compensating for not having kids. Don’ t rule out that it is because they actually love dogs... You know, like you are allowed to, without anybody saying you are anything other than an animal lover...

If they play with your kids, it is either because they love your kids, or because they are just being polite, and NOT because they are jealous of you and spend their days wishing they were you!

On the other hand, if they don’ t play with your kids, it’ s because they don’ t want to, or even because they don’ t like kids (and women ARE in fact allowed to not like all kids, all the time) and again, NOT because they are jealous of you! (Plus, stop pushing them to play with your kids or hold your babies, like they are all of them baby-crazy…)

Also, how about you don’ t assume that they live sexless lives? Chances are, they have a much more satisfying sex life than you, given that they can easily and without the need of legal documents, explanations to parents, angry in-laws, lawyers, judges and priests, or indeed dramatic changes in their lifestyle, or serious lifelong consequences on their kids’ s outlook on life, get rid of the guy who is bad at sex, and move on to greener pastures, instead of actually having to live with him until they are in their grave, enduring his bad sex practices for an eternity and pretending to like it, AND clean after him on top of that! Plus bear in mind that when a woman is NOT actually looking for a proposal when going into a relationship, she is not feeling any kind of obligation to lie, fake it, or become some guy’ s sex service provider: if she doesn’ t like what she is getting, she moves on, instead of pretending, in hope of someday being rewarded with a ring…

Also, stop shunning your single friends from your social life, having those segregated, married-couples-only parties you love to brag about, as if the presence of a single woman on the same table with a bunch of married couples would contaminate the place with poisonous fumes, and then cause an epidemic of leprosy - or possibly a severe case of feminism, (which I guess is worse...) Plus, if they can include you into their own social life, even when all you do is have the same exact conversations for the last 20 years (about your kids having the flu and / or exams; your mother-in-law being a bitch; your husband not understanding you / cheating on you / being a cheap penny pincher who never gives you enough money), you can include them too:

Be part of your single friend’ s life, and attempt to communicate with them, not just in order to bitch about your husband in long phone calls that end up predictably - and given the example you are giving completely irrationally - with you adding that they too need to get married soon. If they are really your friends, and you claim to love them, be there when they are celebrating a significant event (hint: NOT all significant events are wedding-related / family oriented), like a promotion, a new house, a new shop, a gallery opening, an opening night at a play, or when they want to vent over a glass of Chianti, (you know, like you want to vent every fucking day of your life, over an entire bottle of the stuff). Because they have probably been there for you in every step of your own life’ s big moments: they were there for you (bearing expensive gifts!) when you got engaged, married, announced your pregnancies, had, then baptised your babies, and on every mind numbingly boring birthday party your kids ever had for years after that. They sat in germ-infested hospital beds with you, and hot churches, and boring graduation ceremonies, and ballet recitals, and stuffy birthday halls with creepy clowns and kids high on sugar, and they participated in all kinds of activities that bored them to tears and made them have dark suicidal thoughts, just because they are your friends and they love you, and want to be there for you.

Think about it for a minute, and drag yourself to their shop’ s opening nights, and gallery openings and parties and whatever, and while you are there, wipe that condescending smile (the kind that you save especially for anything that involves single women) off your face. You are not doing them a favour by being there; you are just being a friend! And they are not inviting you to an event because they are lonely and miserable and have empty lives, but because they love you, and they want you to be there for them too, and this is the life they have consciously chosen for themselves, which may be more than you can say about yours! They don’ t have events and things in their life on account of their husbandless state. They have events to celebrate because they have a life, yeah, regardless and possibly BECAUSE of their husband-less state). Their own special life events are not unworthy, just because are not part of what YOU consider important. They are important to them, (like yours are important to you!) so just be a human being and act like a friend for a little while, why don’ t you?

Do consider that sometimes being single by choice, is about choosing to live your life with independence and integrity. Choosing to be free to do what you fucking want, when and how you fucking want it! Sometimes it is about being strong enough to think you deserve to have freedom of choice. Sometimes it is about living without putting all your expectations about your happiness, well-being and comfort, on someone else’ s shoulders. And more often than not, it is about being brave enough and self-assured enough, to live your life without depending on the wrong person. Or indeed being aware that two people cannot statistically speaking, evolve through the years on the same exact pace: they cannot continue to want the same things from life, love, sex and the Universe, as they did the moment they got married. Sooner or later, one of them will evolve (or devolve), in a way which will make the whole “ever after” thing become an exercise in futility and a waste of perfectly good years. Sometimes it’s because they don’ t need that particular brand of external validation, and they don’t give a rat’ s arse about being seen as a “normal” woman by society, or as one who fulfils her proper “gender role”. Sometimes it is about not needing a “special day” in order to feel “special”. Or it just might be that they take offence at the sexism of the whole wedding ceremony which is a product of Patriarchy: wearing a white dress and a veil that symbolically is meant to publicise her “virginity” to the world; having their father paying for the wedding ceremony in a modern-day version of a dowry; being given away (like a piece of property that changes hands) from their father to their future husband; or being given a ring to indicate that they are now the property of the latter who will now “take care of them” and get to prove that by the granting of the expensive ring, etc.. Not to mention losing even their very name in the process…

Not all women need all that you see. And they are in fact allowed to. Just leave it open as a possibility, is that I’ m saying…


Dear Married Women - Copyright © Fanitsa Petrou. All Rights Reserved. Any unauthorised use – copying, publishing, printing, reselling, etc – will lead to legal implications.

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Art & Words By Fanitsa Petrou

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