Why I Am Not Married.

“I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.
― Gloria Steinem

People ask me a lot why I am not married. I try not to roll my eyes or get defensive. As a woman in this world, I think we internalize that question negatively. It seems to say “Why has no one ever offered to marry you so you wouldn’t be a spinster? What’s wrong with you.” Most women equate: “Why aren’t you married?” to really saying: “Why does no MAN want you?”  It’s a stupid question people, and we should really just stop asking it. Emily Post would agree with me.Other questions I get are: When will you get married? Or what do you have against marriage? Or why are you so cynical about love? Or why are you so picky? Or why aren’t you dating online? Or did you really leave your religion because of the pressure to get married?
What I usually say is, “It’s none of your business” or “I hate babies” (I know that’s not even a question they asked, and I really love babies a lot), but it throws them off track.  Truthfully, I feel that people do not want to hear my real answer. My real answer doesn’t even compute in the mind of my mother.
But here it is: My real answer is that I just can’t get married until the definition of what “marriage” means changes a little more in my favor.

Let me explain.

I’ve seen young women and old women get married (and I’m usually their bridesmaid). I’ve seen conservative and liberal women get married. I’ve seen skinny and chubby women get married. It’s not like I’m a marriage leper. It’s not like no man has ever wanted me. It’s not like I haven’t gotten offers. I have. And I’ve thought long and hard about those offers. I’ve almost accepted two of them. I was very, very close. I almost had myself talked into the idea that this was finally the man for me.

I could be married right now you guys! Right now! And then I’d never hear the darned question again. (Never hearing the question again is almost reason enough for me to go get married!) I could have believed past lovers’ promises to split the work 50/50. I could have swooned (ok, I did swoon, a lot) when one of them told me how much he longed to be a father and that he would do more of the changing of the diapers and the late night feedings than me, he would. He promised. He would take off work to pick them up from school. He would do it all with me. 50/50.

I desperately grasped onto the lovely phrase of the man who told me that he loved my feminism and that he would always support my career as equal to his. That if it came to the point where I had to relocate for work, he would relocate with me. It wouldn’t always be me forced to relocate or adhere to what his job was offering

BEGINTANGENT This brings up another question women and men ask me, “Why do you like to work?” and they shudder a little when they say it. Call me crazy, but I chose to follow my passions in life and my job reflects that. I LOVE what I do. I can’t imagine not ever doing it. ENDTANGENT

We would make the best decisions for our family and those decisions would not always land in his favor because he was the man. And also, he would cook and clean. We could do it. We were educated.  We were committed. We could make it work. And our love would see us through any of the technicalities. These men have been rare, but they have been.

Of course, there have been more of the other kind of guy too. These are the men who wonder why I have to “ruin an afternoon” by bringing up feminism.  Or the ones who expect me to cook most of the meals. Or the ones who just assume that I would not mind “being supported” and “not having to work” if we had a kid. Or the ones who wanted me to not be as smart as they were. Or who thought we should vote the same (aka, I should vote just as he would because we should always be united on that).  And most of all, the ones who look at me blankly when I say  “My last name is way cooler than yours, why don’t you take my name on?” (I’m actually not kidding about this, though most people think I am).

Even with the best of intentions on either side of the marriage, I have seen, again and again, how things change once the marriage happens. As a friend said to me, “it’s like gravity, you just get pulled into the gender roles, no matter how hard you try not to, they just suck you in.” Wives do just end up taking care of the kids more. Wives do end up cleaning the house more. Wives do end up sacrificing their careers more in favor of the husbands. Wives do end up not following through on their dreams for many, many reasons. For the most part, wives do more of the things that I don’t want to do.

And that is why I am nobody’s wife.


I'm an artist, writer, photographer, feminist, listener, lover, and a fighter. I believe that travel is fatal to prejudice, that skies are meant to be blue, and that the world is full of endless possibilities.

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39 Responses

  1. Danielle says:

    I totally agree, when women marry they are asked to give up too much of themselves.

    The old bishop of my ward took on his wife’s last name via hyphen. (His wife and his kids sport both last names too.) Pretty wild, impressively progressive for a Mormon family.

    • Stella says:

      I love that Danielle! I’ve known a few couples like that too. I really hope that if I do marry, I will find a similar situation…however, my last name really is pretty cool…so if I find a guy who wants to take it on, then I’ll have true love 🙂

  2. Gwennaëlle says:

    You worded perfectly how I feel about the concept of marriage. Why even if I overcome all my issues I can’t picture myself being married.

    Ok to be honest, about two weeks ago after and extra class of aïkido that lasted the whole day I thought that it could have been nice to have someone waiting for me at home and eager to rub my sore shoulder. I think it is like the only time in my life I have wished to be married.
    Or filthy rich so as to be able to pay someone for this.

    • Stella says:

      Gwennaelle–I think those are real moments in life. I think…married or single…we have those moments of loneliness, of not being understood, of wanting a tender touch. I do envy that part of many relationships…but I am NOT a nun. And I’ve had some beautiful men in my life that have made me a better person.

      Treat yourself to that massage girl!

  3. MJK says:

    Everything you and your friend said about gravity is 100% true. But for me, marriage is worth it. I would not trade the last 10 years of living loving and growing into different people together for a place in even a perfect egalitarian society.

    • Stella says:

      I’m so glad, MJK, that you’ve found a partnership that works for you. I admire so many of my friend’s marriages and feel like they made the perfectly right decision for themselves.

  4. More power to you! It’s so great that you know what you want and need and refuse to settle.

  5. Jenn says:

    And here I WANTED the marriage, I wanted the gender roles, I wanted to be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen! I never expected to graduate BYU with no ring on my finger (though I did marry shortly after). And yet, 6 years into the marriage, I find myself with a great long-term career and my husband a stay-at-home parent who cooks, cleans, changes diapers, and does dishes. I never in a million though this is how it would turn out, or that we would both be happy and good at our reversed rolls. Not saying “look how well it worked for me, everyone should do it”. Just saying…. you can defy the stereotypes and be a happy single working woman, or defy the stereotypes and find a husband that won’t stick you in a role you don’t want. Either way, let’s defy a stereotype or two;)

  6. Peter says:

    I see your viewpoint. I may well be wrong so please be tolerant if I speak out of turn! I just feel it sounds as though you want it to be the perfect picture of what you want it to be. There is no such thing. If its not a compromise then its not going to be balanced relationship. All genuine relationships involve compromise. Otherwise they are dictatorships and that isn’t right. Its about finding someone who respects and understands your view and is willing to feel with you the areas of compromise which are more important to you and is willing to adjust and accomodate. If that isn’t reciprocated then the relationship is unbalanced and I don’t think they work well.

    That said, with the life ambitions you hold marriage does seem the way you describe. I think most people are comfortable with the status quo and don’t want to have their little world of social assumptions questioned. So you will find the number suitors perhaps smaller than someone happy to be a nurturing Mother. That doesn’t mean you are in any way wrong to have your own view and ambitions. You should absolutely be honest with everyone and especially yourself about them. They are as individual as you are and to be respected and treasured for their uniqueness just as any other should be.

    I have a unique perspective too and a reason why I understand why women might feel they seem to have to give up so much. My wife left me with six young children and without meaningful assistance I had to modify my career substantially to allow the time to do the job properly as I see it. The most important job as i saw it that is.. being a good dad who is there to support all their needs, especially the emotional ones. In process of time I remarried. At first we endured the hell of trying to do it the traditional way but it didn’t work and actually I really missed being the primary care giver. Its something I needed to be. Its something they needed me to be. That was hard for my wife. I think although she enjoyed putting her efforts into a career, she also felt maybe guilt at not being in the “correct” role and placed guilt on me for not being in her view the provider as I should be ( even though I was still contributing much more to the financial income than she was) ! Odd isn’t it how we get all mixed up in our feelings about these things! So that really messed it all up as we went through another divorce and I was left with enormous debt, no career and struggling to get them all through university etc. Well such is the die life throws sometimes. It was all worth it. To my children its not about money, its about loving relationships. I’m glad they see it that way. However, I do understand how you must feel about the sacrifice of your career from your end of life experience ( and I think you are right to look for assurance in preserving it). I have scarificed mine and the consequences are not all good. Being a parent is a life experience though and I feel a lot of women deny themselves it because they are overly concerned about what they might lose when they don’t yet appreciate what they will gain! Just an opinion.

    • Stella says:

      Peter, sounds like you’ve had quite the range of experiences. I really admire the choices that you have made.

      I hope that this post doesn’t make it seem like I don’t understand relationships. I’ve been in a very loving relationship for two years. We compromise and communicate and support and love one another very much. We’ve definitely have had our ups and downs, but we’re pretty united in the fact that we do not want children and that we both have careers and dreams that mean very much to both of us.

      Also, I’ve been a huge part in the lives of my nieces and nephews, even to the point of having custody of one of them. I do know how hard being a single parent is…even if I only had a small taste of it (and realized I didn’t want this for myself).

      I really hope all things work out for you and your wife and that you can find the cadence in your relationships that work best for you.

      • Peter says:

        Thanks for replying. I knew there was a risk I was mis reading you.
        You know its diiferent when they are yours. I had never seen one beautiful baby in my life. All those women swooning over new borns and saying the ugly creatures were beautiful just seemed role play to me! They were all wrinkly things which enlarged could play a good part in any horror film! When my first son was born I thought I had fathered the first beautiful baby born to mankind! LOL I didn’t want him in a pushchair, I wanted to hold him all the time I could! I was completely besotted! Looking at old photos I am amused that he was actually a pretty ugly baby by baby standards! However, we all have our individuality and my ex wife says she never felt any bond with any of them! I wonder why she wanted six! I suppose she was trying to fit the ideal Mormon woman when it really wasn’t her. It suited me I suppose as I loved being the main caregiver when she left.

        So apologies for assuming wrongly. It is great that you know what you want and have decided on your course. I don’t think marriage has to be part of your life at all for you to be fulfilled as the person you are.

        There’s a lot of pressure applied to marry. I was a convert and went late on a mission. Returning at 24 I was taken aside by a regional rep and told if I wasn’t married within six months he would be after me as I was not fulfilling my sacred priesthood duty! All my friends were married so as a single I had to make friends with a new batch of 18/ 19 year olds. They soon went on missions and returned to get married and I realised as I approached my 28th birthday I would have to culture another batch of 18/ 19 year olds as friends and no offence to that age group to say that did not appeal! So I married a woman who had a child and put everything into that I could. Sounds crazy and it was! Still I got six children who mean the world to me. So it turned out well. She got to abdicate responsibility entirely and took off for the life she wanted or thought she wanted.

        I am not married now. As a second divorced single Dad I have experienced quite a lot of perspectives. I made the mistake of allowing myself to be emotionally abused by a strong minded woman who would scream for hours, her panting giving short respite. I forgot who I was and lost the ability to feel in many ways. Church was not helpful. I eventually found general conference and their constant harping about what men should be and how they despised male abusers etc just added to my feelings of self deprecation. I felt really depressed for weeks after them. I was never going to fit what they wanted me to be. So I stopped listening and began to try and trust myself again.

        I had to learn what you already know. That we should be true to ourselves and not allow other people’s or organisational belief systems to dictate the parameters of what is right for us!

        Well done!

  7. Melanie says:

    Your “I could be married right now you guys!” killed me. So could I! I Amos grateful it didn’t go that way for me– not because I don’t think that marriage would work for me, but because marriage at that time would’ve robbed me of ten years of experiences (and some therapy) that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise had. I think you speak to a wider experience of people attaching themselves to institutions that are difficult to extract themselves from without really being honest with themselves about what they can actually live with. I feel like I see it all the time in the academy- people come to graduate school and realize that they don’t want to be broke, critiqued harshly, or working all the time.

    • Stella says:

      Amen, Melanie. I think it’s responsible of people to understand what they can handle and when best to take on certain things. I wouldn’t change the experiences of my single life for anything.

  8. kamisaki says:

    Stick to it. There is no reason not to. I am married, have 3 kids, was married while in BYU nursing school, had the first kid just over a year later, and have been 100% silently miserable ever since. My husband is a wonderful person. He is a devoted father. He changed more than his share of diapers. He took care of the kids for 10 years while I worked nightshifts, and still went to school and worked during the days. He fed my daughter breastmilk with a teaspoon because she refused to take a bottle when I was working 12 hour night shifts. He is kind, he is generous, he is passionate about life and making it better for others. He is an honorable, wonderful person….

    …that I would love to admire from afar. Because, when it comes down to it, although I may be married to a great guy, we were both raised in the church. His family in particular is steadfast in fulfilling every commandment, suggestion, recommendation and opinion that is uttered at church. The patriarchal hierarchy of men in the church is ingrained into him, as well as into my conflicted mind and upbringing, and as much as we don’t want it to be a part of our marriage, it is always there. He supports me in my feelings, but it is always a compromise for him. He never just accepts me the way I am. There always has to be that verbal clarifier, stating that I am being accepted, as though he has to keep trying to convince himself to accept me for who I am. I cannot at this point be myself with my parents and extended family. They see departure from mainstream Mormonism as pure evil, and an unpardonable sin (I have two siblings who have completely left the church already, and wow. It was messy.)

    The worst part is that although I love my children more than anything I could ever imagine, and that I would give my life and soul to protect them, I don’t enjoy being a mother or want to be one. I wanted to be a nurse. I had great plans for my career. I traveled the world as a single woman, giving aid, working with international and local health care agencies to improve health care access for women. And honestly, if I could give it all up, the husband, the children, the temple marriage, the taking on of his name, and mostly, this church,

    I would. In a heartbeat. Because it is an inescapable trap. I could leave, but I am not that cruel. I couldn’t hurt him, my children, our families that way. I couldn’t do that. So I am trying to find some semblance of balance between who I really am inside, and the life I CHOSE. I know I chose it. It is completely my doing. However, I also feel a bit tricked into the choice. I was indoctrinated that this is how it should be done. I was made to feel like an old maid at the age of 25 when I was not yet married. I was encouraged to marry this man, although our financial future was not certain “God works it all out in time, and according to your faith, if you follow His will.”. We are now quite destitute with hundreds of thousands in student loans for his career, that should make big bucks, but has suffered greatly under the weight of the recession. And here I am, trapped. Trapped with a wonderful man that I don’t want to be with, who keeps me from my full potential, and trapped with three amazing children that deserve a mother who really wants to be there, going to soccer practices, dance recitals, reading stories, and making funny face pancakes. It’s just not me. I wish, oh how I wish, I had been given 2 seconds to think things through, without the weight of the church and the “you need to” and “God wants you to” thoughts being pounded into my head. Because the truth is…..I never would have done it if I knew what it would mean for me as a woman. As the SNL skit for “Mom Jeans” says at the end: “you’re not a woman anymore, you’re a mom.” Touche.

    • Jessawhy says:

      You’ve taken a great risk to be so honest here and I appreciate that. I’m in a similar situation, I think many of us are. I went to BYU after being very career and education oriented in HS. I fell under the BYU spell of getting married young and starting a family right away (age 20 and 22 respectively) and since then have regretted missing my life as a young single adult. It’s especially hard because I feel like I was the same person in HS as I am now in many ways, but those few years of being heavily indoctrinated with “get married, have children” led me away from my focus of “get educated, make a difference in the world” which is where I’ve wanted to be since then. Sigh.
      I remind myself of the lyric’s from a song on the radio that happiness isn’t “having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”
      And I do want what I’ve got, I do love my kids and husband. It’s just hard to live in a box that someone else designed for me, even though I technically chose it.

      Right now I’m back in school and in some ways it’s the happiest I’ve been in years. I’m on a path to become a PA and I keep trying to lower my expectations. I haven’t had a real job in over a decade, so a job probably looks more glamorous to me than it really is.

      Thanks again for sharing this, you’ve given me quite a bit to think about.

    • Ziff says:

      Oh, wow, kamisaki, ouch! You put this so well. I’m sorry you’re so trapped. I’m sure you’ve thought of this comparison before, but what struck me reading your comment was that encouraging people to hurry up and get married and have kids is like baptizing kids at 8. Before they/we know it, they’re committed, and even if they technically made a decision, it was under a lot of pressure, and without much time to contemplate the possible consequences.

      • kamisaki says:

        Yes! Our second son’s 8th birthday is coming up, and I am not happy about him being pushed into baptism. But me fighting the machine alone is so hard. He doesn’t have a clue. I try to help him think through the decision, but he’s EIGHT. He’ll do whatever anyone wants him to do. I am at a loss on this one.

  9. Stella says:

    Wow, Kamisaki, thank you for your honesty. I have to say that I could see a lot of myself in you. I was raised with the exact same feeling. Someone asked me my biggest regret the other day and I said “wasting so much time in my 20s wishing I were married and feeling bad about the fact that I wasn’t.” It took me a long time to realize that my choice not to marry was ok. Like you said, it goes against everything that we were taught. I had a chance to marry at BYU and instead of saying yes, I ran away to Paris and took a job and quit school for a year because I was terrified that I simple “fit the bill” in his mind. We got along. We made each other laugh. He was a good guy…but I just kept thinking “he doesn’t really want to marry me, he wants to marry his idea of me.” I was doing everything “perfectly” at that time by the BYU standards, but I just couldn’t do it. That’s what’s happened in every relationship since (until my recent one where we are both on the same page).

    Do you live in Utah? I’d love to get together for lunch one day and talk. Let me know.

    • kamisaki says:

      Thank you for your reply Stella! I actually don’t live in Utah anymore, but I do visit fairly frequently. I would love to get together for lunch. It is always refreshing to find people who are willing to look at things from many perspectives. I’m not sure how to send a message directly to you that the rest of the world doesn’t see.

    • Maggie says:

      Ah yes, I too said no to a perfectly nice guy who was in love with the idea of me. I can’t help but look back at that decision and wonder if I made the right one, but I’m pretty certain that though I too “could be married right now” it wouldn’t have been any sort of wedded bliss. I am so grateful for the support of a wise friend who helped me muster up the courage to decline his kind proposal.

      So sorry Kamisaki, you’re story makes my heart hurt. I know that we are all so much more than wives and mothers, I pray that the wonderful guy that you married can see and love you for all that you are.

  10. Peter says:

    Kamisaki. Thankyou for your honesty. I relate to so much of what you have described. Thankyou for being a responsible person and not carelessly abdicating from the consequences of your decisions.

    I appreciate your morals that you don’t want to hurt a good man but I need to ask this. What about your hurt? Isn’t that just as important as his? He is trapped in the belief system from what you say. Its a group feel which requires conformity to thought and therefore has a language of its own. It is maintained by preaching what we should think about just about everything! The perceptive sense any divergence and call it “losing the Spirit”. Severe questioning of the values is described as evil. It actually feels evil to them! Its not evil of course, just another view which conflicts their own.

    I was someone like your husband once. I had a wife who didn’t have a connection with her children. She had a son when I met her. We had five more together. I was doing more than my fair share. I could sense the increasing resentment and discontent which came quite quickly in her life once she decided to leave Church. She felt sorrow very temporarily for the hurt she might cause a good man! Her words not mine! She left to chase the life she wanted. It was a shock but for me being the primary caregiver in every way was the most fulfilling experience and I wouldn’t have had the priveledge if she hadn’t done what she did. She completely abdicated responsibilty. In fact when I remarried some time later she set about destroying it. That bit is the worse part than the first. Anyway, the point I am making is that her leaving wasn’t the worst thing she could have done. Sure Church people thought what she did was terrible but for me it was a relief! A shock and painful but ultimately a relief. I went on to experience new dimensions to love and pain. Another story!

    So I’m suggesting being true to yourself ultimately might be the best policy. I’m sure my view is highly contraversial! Sadly it will be decision he might feel unable to be part of and still be in his box! You might have to make the best one for all concerned on your own! I really feel for your dilema!

    • kamisaki says:

      you certainly have a unique perspective here. I am glad that in the end, your situation seems to be better for all that has happened. I appreciate your insight and encouragement.

  11. ssj says:

    Yes, the gender roles are so tricky when you get married but I think it becomes even more complicated when you have children. Right now, we split a good portion of the work (we have a chore chart) but I fear the day when we have children. My husband has a much more demanding job and I don’t want to end up doing everything.. It really scares me, and that is one reason I don’t have children right now. So my fears are similar to yours, even though I’m married.

    I applaud you for not giving into the societal pressure to get married. I did, and I was very young. I love my husband, but I absolutely wish I was meeting him now. I wish I could have spent the last five years single. To protest, I’m choosing not to give into societal pressure to have children. We’ll probably be married 10+ years by the time start that, but I need to do it when I’m good and ready.

  12. Alisa says:

    The problem is that while women who stay at home are praised, so are men who work. And so are men who stay at home or are seen doing the grocery shopping with a kid in tow. But no one likes a working mom.

    I should know. After 2.5 years of my husband’s unemployment, and me working as the sole provider for our family and paying for my husband to get yet one more graudate degree, my mother in law (yes, my unemployed husband’s mother) told me that any woman can and should be a stay at home mom if “she just tried hard enough.”

    My marriage doesn’t resemble the way you describe it in the OP. My husband truly wants to support me, and I him, but we have found that I am a little better at automatically and inherently knowing what will suit his needs, but he needs a little more direction from me about what will suit my needs. This isn’t because he is not a great guy, he is, but he is used to taking what is offered without thinking of the sacrifice or how it affects me. I have learned I need to voice what I need more clearly and more often, and he is really happy to oblige. He just isn’t as good at reading my mind as I am at reading his, so that puts the burden of communication back on me.

    • Peter says:

      Alisa. There are so many prejudices around and if you feel no one likes a working Mother, seriously you need to change your friends! Or move cos you live in a snooty area.
      Working and looking after a family takes a lot of organisation and time management skills. Always thinking ahead to fit all those tasks into a teeny time frame! Successfully doing it is a skill to be admired. I had a male friend look after mine at a busy time but wow, I had to clean and tidy at each end of the day, and do everything I had to do when I wasn’t working 14 hours. He was clueless! I don’t think he could see what there was to do even if it was staring him in the face! I was amazed! I remember thinking I how frustrated I would feel if he was my hubby. LOL . If I was a woman and married to him I would have been driven up the proverbial wall! He was pretty much the same though at any job he did! However at least he was there to watch them cos no one else was volunteering!

      Applications for Mother in law from hell now being accepted!

  13. Diane says:

    I knew at a young age(12) that I did not want to be married. I remember sitting at my foster Mother’s kitchen table and having a conversation with my Foster Aunt about the subject. I don’t exactly what brought the topic up, but, I distinctly remember telling her that I did not want to be married. At 48(next Month) I still don’t.

    The reasons vary. The primary one is that I have never really seen a marriage work(well that is) Second, I know that growing up the way that I did I could very easily have a abusive relationship and I’m not willing to put myself thru that mess. Third, I’ve always been a loner, I don’t like relying on people that much. And like it or not, marriage is to an extent about relying on another person. And truthfully, I don’t really get lonely. I know how to be by myself. I don’t really know how to be around a lot of people to be happy.

  14. DefyGravity says:

    Stella, you bring up some interesting points. I never wanted to get married until I met my husband. And even though I am married and like being married, I don’t have a high opinion of the institution, for many of the reasons you talked about. There are lots of unhappy marriages, and I have seen many women give up dreams to follow their husbands. But many women say they are happy doing things their husband’s way. Do we assume they are unhappy when they say they are?

    At this point I’m making most of the money. My husband is in school and does a lot of the cooking and laundry. The rest of the chores we do together. The philosophy is, whoever has time does it. I can see that gender roles may become more stereotypical when people have kids, but we don’t and don’t plan to. So maybe we will be successful in not falling into stereotypes. Both of us will be working soon, but neither of our careers is taking precident because we’re going into the same thing.

    Whenever you’re in a relationship there is comprimise. It’s been hard for me to navigate when a comprimise is coming from the need to comprimise and it comes from my ingrained gender beliefs that I don’t want but that have been beat into me by my culture and religion and are hard to get rid of. For example, if I were single I would not be living in Provo working the job I am. But I chose to marry my husband and so I am here til he graduates. If he were single, he would be graduated, because he took time off school when in was finishing. So I don’t see my situation as gendered sacrifice because he put his plans on hold for my schooling. But I constantly have to parse out why I’m doing what I’m doing to keep from falling into stereotypes that I don’t want to live. It’s hard, but I think our marriage is better because I examine my motives.

    • This is a good way to put it. I think it all comes down to compromise and mutual respect. At least, these are qualities I really value in my relationship with my husband (heck, in any relationship).

  15. jks says:

    I’ve been married for 20 years now. Long enough that I see a difference in gender roles of younger married couples.
    I remember some times of feeling some resentment at the division of labor or other ways he hasn’t measured up to my definition of perfection. Marriage is hard sometimes. However, I am very happy and we have had many, many good years.
    What is interesting to me now, is that he has become a better man after 20 years. What is interesting to me now is that as I’ve seen other marriages struggle through different things and midlife crisis things, I have a different way of judging my husband.
    Doing the dishes is not the true test of sexism in a relationship. What really shines through and what really makes me happy is his consistent interest in my daily happiness and his respecting my judgement.
    I didn’t mind waiting for a guy worthwhile. But I can’t imagine deciding not to take the risk. One thing I am most happy about in my marriage is my children seeing a good, balanced relationship. I hope it gives them the foundation to find someone worth taking a risk and going for it. I’d like that for them. I have three single siblings so I know that marriage doesn’t happen for everyone (although they haven’t been turning down proposals left and right).

  16. Ziff says:

    Great post, Stella! I really like your concluding insight:

    Even with the best of intentions on either side of the marriage, I have seen, again and again, how things change once the marriage happens. As a friend said to me, “it’s like gravity, you just get pulled into the gender roles, no matter how hard you try not to, they just suck you in.”

    I read a book titled Wifework a few years ago that you might enjoy. Its author makes very similar points to yours, but if I recall correctly, also backed up with survey data.

    On second though, maybe you wouldn’t enjoy it, since you already know the conclusion. And that conclusion is pretty depressing.

  17. Laura says:

    This was interesting to me because all the things you listed (with the exception of the last name) are things I have in my 16-year marriage. My husband knew he was marrying a strong, smart woman who is an awful cook (luckily he’s not!), and I knew I was marrying a man who wasn’t necessarily passionate about the things I am but WAS passionate about me. And we negotiate. A LOT. And it’s hard. But it’s also one of the best things in my life.
    This certainly isn’t the model either of us grew up with, but as the parents of two daughters I’m hopeful that we are giving them a model of working together toward your strengths that they can have for themselves one day.

  18. Ray says:

    I love, love this post! I’m right there with you as a single, young woman.

    The big thing for me isn’t that I don’t want to be with someone, I mean I do. We all crave companionship on some level, but I just…I want to be free. And it seems that a lot of marriage is tying yourself down and giving up so much and I’m not sure I’m ready to give up those things.

    I’m desperately terrified of ending up trapped somewhere, stuck in a bad situation because children are involved and I don’t want to leave.

    It always sounds so selfish when you say it like that, but I love knowing that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    • DefyGravity says:

      I don’t think it’s selfish to want your life to turn out how you want it, or to make the decision that feel right for you. It’s smart to do what feels right even when others disagree. It’s your life and you’re the one who has to live it; they don’t. Kudos for knowing what you want and for not settling for less then that or caving to pressure!

  19. noname says:

    Thank you kamisaki i often feel the same way but i have never talked about it with anybody. It just seems like a problem without a solution and it drives me crazy thinking about it all day – thank you for being so brave and talking about it. It helps.

  20. Spinsterlicious says:

    Sometimes when women ask me why I’m not married, I think they’re wondering, deep down, why they are. It can sound hostile to ask this, no matter how sweetly it’s said, so I usually don’t. I want to, though!

    Eleanore Wells, Author, The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree

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