The other night, my husband and I were watching the series Love is Blind on Netflix.
The premise is, singles meet and mingle but never see each other’s faces until they decide to become engaged.
This way, they supposedly put aside any “materialistic biases” they might have and instead fall in love with “the real person”.
In this particular episode, one of the female contestants was developing a deep connection with a male contestant, and was regularly breaking down in tears. She said she is an “empath” and just feels really strong emotions, all the time.
“She’s the opposite of you so,” my husband laughed. I gave him a look.
I see everyone’s problems. Everyone suffers from grief and hardship. That is part of life
Here’s the thing: I may be a bit of an ice queen – and I may not cry very often – but that doesn’t make me less empathetic to people’s situations. In fact, I think the reason I can sometimes come off a bit cold is because I see everyone’s problems. Everyone suffers from grief and hardship. That is part of life.
Data from the American Time Use Survey, as shared by British behavioural scientist Paul Dolan in his book Happy Ever After, tells us that women who are married and have children tend to a) die earlier and b) are less happy than single, childless women. Meanwhile, men are the opposite: they are happier and healthier when they’re married. According to Prof Dolan, men make more money and take fewer risks once they marry, which benefits them.
We know that women are already (usually) paid less than their male co-workers, even if they’re working the same job. Once women become mothers, they are under even more pressure to maintain that work-life-home balance.
No wonder we die sooner
Some decide to stop working altogether, if that is economically feasible, while others continue to work while paying for childcare and squeezing every household job and “quality family time” in at the weekends.
I’ve done both of these things – neither are easy and there is no correct decision. No wonder we die sooner!
So forgive me if the rose-tinted glasses of my youth have rusted over a bit after years spent caring for others and balancing work, children, household management and supporting my husband in his agricultural endeavours.
It’s a trap!
This might be part of the reason my eyes roll upward when I see an “empath”, who is just starting her journey of love and matrimony, tear up for the 11th time on a “reality” show – over a man she has never met in the flesh.
“Run!” I want to shout. “It’s a trap!”
Living a full life
But, really, would I have been happier if I hadn’t married or had children? My husband has a terrible sense of humour, but is otherwise an excellent partner and father to our children. He is my biggest fan but also pushes me to do better and increase my self-belief. I shudder to think of what my life would be like if I had never met him. Not that I want to give him too much credit, but I have to give credit where credit is due – he has drastically increased the quality of my life in many ways.
My children sometimes enrage me in ways I didn’t even believe possible, but how much of that is their problem? It’s hard to say. When they make a mess or break things; when they don’t listen to me – I get shouty. I don’t like being that person. But is it their fault, or is it me processing the fact that I’m not in control of certain situations?
They also enrich my life in so many ways. The Valentine’s Day card I found on my bed from my eldest – full of adorable misspellings. My no-nonsense, “just hugs, no kisses, please” four-year-old, who is a miniature version of myself. The science-mad six-year-old who also has “big feelings” and is most definitely, in my view, an empath.
If I die sooner than my single, childless friends, I won’t have any hard feelings about it. I’ll also be delighted for my single, childless friends, for their freedom, health and happiness. The mess, the shouting, the eye rolling, the wonderful (but still not very funny) husband – it’s all part of having a full life – and one which I chose freely.
That girl on Love is Blind should still run swiftly in the opposite direction of that guy she has never met, though. Reality-show love is most definitely a trap!