Millions of women are raising children alone. And not all of them have enough strength for their personal lives. Psychologies asked how, in such a situation, to find the right balance between the role of a single mother and a woman seeking a man’s love.
About 10 million women in US are raising children alone. Torn between work and home, they hardly find a place and time for love. A third of them have no sex life completely. Why this happens is roughly understandable. But what can you do about it? How to find a balance between the role of a mother and … a woman?
After a divorce, a woman raising a child becomes a hostage of motherhood, which interferes with her personal life. Intimate relationships recede into the background, lost among the worries associated with children, career, relationships with ex-husband, household responsibilities. It is not easy for “Cinderella” to find the time, energy and desire to drop a shoe somewhere (or rather, a house slipper) in order to give the applicant a chance to charm her. And even if everything goes well, the new chosen one has yet to ingratiate himself with the children …
Single mothers, who are they?
Despite the fact that there are millions of single mothers in United State, there is practically no research on their sexual life. It seems that such women have no desire and do not hope to start a new relationship, get married. Among the women we spoke to while preparing this material, about thirty are divorced, one is a widow. They all live with children
Parting and divorce are often followed by a period of chaos. Women have to reorganize their lives. They simultaneously experience fear and a desire to enjoy their newfound independence. Getting through this period of loneliness and panic is difficult.
Having met a man, I say: “I am divorced, I have a small child!” Many are scared away
“My life is home, work, child,” says 29-year-old Maria, a financial analyst and mother of a one-year-old daughter. – When I, tired, return home after a whole day away from the child, it is difficult for me to even think about a date. I take advantage of that rare weekend when my dad picks up my daughter just to get some sleep. Friends are trying to drag me out somewhere, but their bachelorhood habits and amusements are so far from mine today. I feel like a black sheep, and I am ashamed that my marriage did not work out. Having met a nice man, I immediately say: “I am divorced, I have a small child!” And many are scared away. ”
Solitude has its advantages: it allows you to determine your true priorities in life. “I needed to regain my confidence,” Maria continues. – I often feel anxious, afraid to be alone. Sometimes I meet men, but it doesn’t go beyond the first date. I feel too fragile, vulnerable to start a new relationship. “
Temporary abstinence can be delayed – as a result of conscious choice, due to feelings of guilt, lack of time or freedom. “Now it’s all too complicated. The last time I had sex was five years ago, and perhaps I can do without it, ”says 32-year-old Elena.
“I felt sorry for my son, who became aggressive when a man appeared next to me. And then, no one helped me, and I had no money for a nanny, ”explains 43-year-old Marina, the teen’s mother. Elena and Marina are no exception: 35% of single women do not have sexual relations.
“I had to give up the utopian idea that one day a man would come and save me …”
Catherine, 36, an anesthesiologist, had a different adaptation period.
“My marriage has long been bursting at the seams … I had enough time to get used to the idea that I would be raising two daughters on my own, and to finish my studies and become psychologically independent.” The latter turned out to be the most difficult.
“I had to abandon the utopian idea that one day a man would come and save me … I found myself face to face with the obvious fact: I am alone in the whole wide world.”
These findings, combined with a “real need for sex,” pushed her to find a lover among friends, “without the risk of falling in love.” “However, given my night shifts and busyness during the day, there was no chance of meeting in neutral territory. As a result, the friend agreed to come to our house from time to time. “
What was the reaction of the teenage daughters? “They tried everything: embarrassment, ridicule, indifference, charm, blackmail (“ If he comes again, we’ll go to daddy ”), feigned tenderness (“ We are so happy three together ”). But I did not give up: I told them that I understood everything, but I was not ready to give up relationships with men. Today they treat my lover the same way they treat my other friends. “
“The period of weak ties”
Having found herself in the role of the head of the family, a single mother does not want to remain alone for a long time, but seeks not to violate the emerging status quo. Sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufman, author of The Lonely Woman and Prince Charming, calls this “a period of weak ties.”
“My lover, fiancé, boyfriend — I don’t know what to call him better — is a friend of my ex-husband,” says 34-year-old Galina. – Even two years after my divorce, we do not advertise this relationship. I want to be confident in my partner and am not eager to introduce my son to the line of my fans. “
Finding a balance between common sense and desire
The dual role of woman and mother requires subtle, intelligent play. It is important not to harm the child who feels that the mother is slipping away from him, and not to offend the new friend, the relationship with whom is still kept secret.
“I think I manage to keep my balance thanks to the“ counter ”in my head, – continues Galina. – How many times this week have I gone out with the child? How much time did you spend with a friend? Of course, this requires good organization and supervision. But as a result, it only strengthens the desire and allows you to get more pleasure from the time that I spend with the two closest people. “
The time resource of single mothers is limited, and at least one of the sides of the formed triangle has resentment.
“I only get crumbs,” the beloved grumble.
“Are you going somewhere again?” – children are offended.
“Single mothers have to pay the price for a difficult transition period when a new coordinate system has not yet been created,” explains Jean-Claude Kaufmann. Raising children alone is not an easy task, especially if the father does not help.
According to statistics, about 30% of divorced women in Russia remarry, and often for divorced men. This is due to the fact that having children from a first marriage scares away bachelors.
“Upon learning about my situation, some men simply disappeared, others understood that the presence of children would have to be taken into account in a relationship,” reflects 38-year-old Natalya. She has been living with Denis for two years, who also has a divorce behind him.
“We met in secret for a while. He and his friends came to visit me, then moved to the category of friends, then there were joint trips on vacation … So gradually, connections arose between him and my children. “
Natalya recalls that she had to talk seriously with the children before Denis moved in with them. “This person means a lot to me, I would like him to live with us,” she said. “If you agree, I suggest you try.” Her kids, six and eight years old, didn’t mind. Nevertheless, sometimes Natalia has to deal with their “possessive” behavior.It is difficult for both children and adults to realize that from this moment a new chapter begins in their lives.
Psychotherapists claim that the appearance of a new man means the collapse of the cherished dream that after the divorce, the mother and father will make peace. The appearance of a new family member is accompanied by difficulties: collisions and conflicts are possible both with children who feel comfortable one-on-one with their mother, and with a “stranger” who, in addition, often brings his own children to the house. This is normal: you cannot become a father, son or sister overnight.
A teenage girl recalls the appearance of her mother’s friend in their family this way: “For a long time I was sad about the times when my mother and I lived together. It took me a long time to start appreciating this man, who seemed to spend all his time in a chair in front of the TV, and also to come to terms with the transformation of mom from an independent woman into a housewife who never leaves the stove. “
It is difficult for both children and adults to realize that from this moment a new chapter begins in their lives.
“The new union functions according to different rules,” reflects Natalya. – Now they and roles in the family are more clearly defined. In everyday life, I play the role of “mother-father” for children. My man for them is a friend of my mother, he has no power. We share this power with their father. “
In families that have come all the way: from a complete family through divorce and an incomplete family (with one parent) to a family with a new partner, everyone can create bonds, break them, or re-create them. Any new situation along the way is a test, and it is easier for a single mother to go through it if the father of the children has not abandoned his role: if the children spend time at his home, and he himself takes on a share of responsibility for their upbringing. This helps the woman to avoid the temptation to shift responsibility to a new friend.
Each single mother builds a new life in her own way, balancing between parenting and the hope that she has a future as a woman. The main thing is not to perceive the child either as an obstacle to a new happy life, or as a protection from loneliness.