In my last post about author Antonia Ragozzini, she shared how after two marriages and dating in-between, she realized that there wasn’t anything wrong with her, she was choosing the wrong men. She needed a fresh start, she needed to start by loving herself. I asked Antonia if our culture of marriage and the way she was raised played into that. Here’s what she said:
Absolutely. I came from a tight knit Italian family. We were like the Cleavers, and if there were any problems, I didn’t know about it. I lived next door to my grandmother and grandfather. There was no divorce in my world, except for me, so all I saw around me was white picket fences, happy marriages and children. And then I get out of college and right away my whole world was,
“When are you going to get married, when are you going to get married?”
All my friends got married, we all got married at the same time, and it was right around the time that they started having babies that I started having problems. It was a blessing that I didn’t have a child, but then when I got divorced, everyone was ready to find me a new husband because that was my culture. I had to have a husband to be complete.
My mother is very old-fashioned, she’s the most wonderful person in the world, but she’s Italian. She would whisper,
“I’m worried about her, find her someone.”
She would be so worried if I was alone on a Saturday night, if I didn’t have a date to take me out to dinner, it was just not her world. My world just turned everybody upside down.
I have been married twice, and anybody who knows me knows I had two strokes of bad luck because I am a very sheltered girl, I grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. It is a very strong, tight-knit, Italian community, we have all been friends since the first grade, our parents are all best friends, the guys all married the girls. I really had only known having a man and being married.
The Divorce Coach Says
I know what Antonia means. I remember visiting home after I had finished university and my mom asking if there were any boyfriends, ever hopeful for a wedding. When I said no, she’d ask if everything was OK. She never said as much, and I never confronted her but I’ve always thought she was wondering if I was a lesbian. I have no idea how she would have reacted to that.
These days, I’m often asked if I’m dating and when I say no, the inquiring looks compel me to explain why, as if I have to justify it. Sometimes I wonder if I’m imagining it, if it’s a view I’m projecting on myself.
I just read this post over at Living Singly about What Single Means. There’s interesting discussion here about how being married implies completeness and being single has the connotation of being in a state of waiting, or less than perfect. It also asks why do the forms in doctors’ offices ask for marital status? I now no longer answer the question because it seems to be completely irrelevant.
Photo credit: happyjed1