That Question Again: “Why aren’t you married?”
If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me why I’m not married, I would be able to buy myself an engagement ring. A big one.
Each time someone asks, I’m inclined to respond with,”Is this question really necessary? Did you think this through one little iota?” Because, really, what sort of answer do they think I have up my sleeve? That I’m asexual and planning a long, fulfilling life enjoying only my own company? That I was engaged once but it turned out that he was an alien and then he was called to return to his home planet? That my devotion to caring for my six adopted cats has proven too time-consuming for me to add a relationship with a man into the rotation?
Isn’t it much more likely that I’m not married because I either haven’t found The One, or I did find him and it didn’t work out, for whatever reason? Isn’t that basically what any other still-single gal in her thirties will tell you?
I’m sure there are those who don’t believe in marriage or shy away from intimate relationships or choose lives of celibate religious devotion – okay, fine. But I’m betting that the majority of us who are questioned won’t be able to come up with a response to satisfy the Nosy Nellies, Would-Be Matchmakers, and Tsk-Tsk-So-Sad-Headshakers.
Women like me, we’re simply not married. We don’t really know why – we don’t have a concrete explanation for you. It just hasn’t happened.
And if we did know how to set up the circumstances that would lead to marriage, most of us would probably go do so and get on with the whole sharing-a-life-with-someone thing.
So please stop asking. Don’t offer helpful tips for meeting the right kind of man. And definitely don’t tell us how surprised you are to hear that nice, successful, pretty girls like us aren’t married but that you’re sure it will happen.
In short, don’t imply that we’re broken or we failed somehow. Don’t imply that we should feel inadequate or insecure because we don’t have husbands.
Instead, congratulate us for building lives and careers and retirement funds all by ourselves. Congratulate us for setting up retirement plans, opening stubborn jars, and doing household repairs without any assistance. Congratulate us for showing up at dinner parties and weddings without a date, determined to socialize and have fun even though we know we’ll have to field your questions about which box we check on official forms. Tell us how we’re doing that lack-of-marriage thing totally right.
Better yet, congratulate us for holding out until we’ve found the right men rather than being in such a hurry that we married the wrong ones.
Congratulate us for living whole lives instead of half-lives even though we don’t have any so-called better halves.
The Things I Don’t Tell You
There are plenty of times I feel inadequate or insecure about not being married. I wonder if I am a failure at relationships, if I am somehow broken in a way that bars me from being Wife Material. I wonder if marriage is a dream that I’ll just put on the shelf. I desperately wish for a brawny man to kill the brown spider lurking in the corner of the bathroom.
But there are also plenty of times I am grateful for what this freedom gives me: a no-excuses-needed commitment to myself. I can read, write, take a class, and go hiking whenever I choose to. I can take quiet time when I need it. I know that my accomplishments are mine alone, and that makes me even more proud of them. I know what kind of life partner I’d like, and what kind of life partner I could be. I know I’d rather be alone than accept anything but the best treatment from a man. And in these times, I believe my dear old friend who says it’s been hard for me to find Him because there aren’t many candidates who could catch me, a Great Catch.
I don’t know if I’ll ever become a bride, or if I will tuck away the romantic notion of marriage on the shelf in a few years. I hope I am the catch my friend says I am, that I get hooked by an intelligent, affectionate fisherman with brooding eyes. But if marriage ends up on that shelf, I hope I’ll be much too busy taking impromptu vacations, writing through dinner, flirting with men, and spoiling myself ever so often to notice all the dust it’s collecting.
Now, Not Maybe Someday
Maybe I will get married someday. But right now I’m here, tackling life and taking on challenges and fielding ridiculous questions and still trying to make the best I possibly can of my time. I try to focus on the now, not the maybe, not the someday.
Sometimes doing it on my own is hard or lonely or a little sad , but I try to keep it all in perspective. I try to remember that being unmarried is just one single fact about me, and that there are many, many more parts that make up my whole self.
So stop asking about who’s missing or what I haven’t done; start asking about the people who are here and the many things I’ve accomplished. Ask me if I’m happy despite being unmarried. Most days I’ll tell you yes.
(This post was originally published on my previous blog Live Your Verb on 11/08/014.)
- The next time someone asks you why you’re not married, try swiftly changing the subject to your accomplishments. “I don’t really know, but I’m excited to share with you what I have done lately. I just got a promotion!” The marriage topic will be left in the dust and you’ll get a chance to talk about something you feel good about it, and thus remind yourself how awesome you are.