Would Barack still be POTUS without Michelle?

Would Barack still be POTUS without Michelle? Photo: AFP

Should we kick the couple habit? (What if it really does make life better?)

Yes. It’s that time again. The Americans are getting ready to vote – or the Chuck Norrises are at least – and that means Australians get to view who in class Americans think is most likely to succeed. As it stands, B-Rock is fist-bumping in the blue corner, Gritty-Mitty-Rom-Comney is ramping up in red, there’s a sexy side-fight brewing between a women-hating budget-hawk and gaff-making set of dentures just beyond the main arena, and the economy is on the line, again, stupid.

And that’s all good and well. But as we all know, it’s not policy that makes a president, it’s his people. And by people, we mean wives, though not in the Mormon way (oh wait, no – Ann may luuuuurve women, but she aint that kind of LDS (*no-one is, technically)).

Why are wives important? Because, rightly or wrongly, the brides of a prospective POTUS have come to represent his ‘human side’. And human sides win votes. Human sides, and the wives that make them, complete the perfect Presidential picture - a picture that paints ‘Commander in Chief’ as a man who’s lover and father as well. This image is important because rule one-o-one of winning relates directly to how you rate on the ‘be-or-be-with-you’ scale.

But what does it say about a society that ‘needs’ to hitch their Head Honcho to a ball and chain before votes of approval may be issued? And if you take American society as the dominant force in the Western World, what does that say about us?

It’s no secret Julia Gillard’s ‘unfortunate’ lack of a husband had made her less popular with some. Not with me, but with a very vocal group of people who would much prefer to see a ‘proper family man’ ensconced alongside progeny on the Kirribilli Christmas cards. Awkwardly, there are some similarities with this church of thought and that which would pave the way for Mr and Mr Prime Minister similarly smiling with season’s greetings.

It all comes down to the cachet marriage still carries as Coveted Life Experience Number One.

But this isn’t just a blog about whether marriage really does make you a winner. We’ve trod that well beaten path before, and there’s just so much conflicting science on the subject coming to an accurate conclusion aint easy. This blog is also about whether being with someone really does make things better – whether you really need someone else to be ‘completed’.

Usually, I would say – almost without thinking – no-one ‘needs’ to be with anyone to be happy. This response is based on years of blogging and reading and talking about what actually matters when it comes to love and life and, y’know, stuff.

The general conclusion from all that is this: it’s not about ‘needs’, it’s about ‘wants’, and those wants must be self-determined. Instead of thinking “I need to be with someone”, we should think “I want to be with someone”, the idea being you’re already able to meet your own needs – you’re already a whole person – so anyone you are with isn’t put upon to fix you somehow (goodbye crappy co-dependency!).

Though there’s always room for new thought on your own, older ideas. And so I was prompted to reconsider my default position against the marriage-begetting ‘we need to be completed’ idea. Basically, I saw the movie Chasing Amy (I highly recommend the movie Chasing Amy), and found a neat idea contained within the script’s great bits about lesbianism, cunnilingus, comic books, and so much more.

Rather than needing to be with him because it would ‘complete’ her, our heroine wants to be with her man because he ‘complements’ her. Complements. I heard that, and thought, how nice! Being complemented.

And then I thought:

“Oh no!”

Because I could feel a subtle shift taking place around my preferred position on this whole ‘do couples do it better’ thing. A shift that posed a daunting addendum to my happiness hypothesis; we might not need to be completed, full lives are possible without a partner, BUT would it really be better if we each found someone who complemented us...

Shit. Does this mean I’d have to concede those smug 'single-life-sucks' people had a point?

Not necessarily. I still think that there are plenty of examples in various cultures around the world, at various points in time, which show how we can live a life without a life-partner and still be happy, still find fulfilment.  Getting married, getting partnered-up, getting with someone who makes you want to be a better human – these are all very wonderful, valuable experiences. But I still really do believe that happiness doesn’t hinge on a ring, or other human thing.

Happiness, surely, is what you make it.

Don’t you think?

I do. So spin that one, spin doctors!

Will we ever see a single person sitting at the head of state? Will we ever accept the legitimacy of a single lifestyle? Could you ever be comfortable flying solo forever? Should you be?

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kfeeney@fairfaxmedia.com.au