I went out to lunch with a close co-worker today, and she asked the question that once upon a time I used to find very awkward to answer. I say used to, because in the past I felt this unnecessary need to justify my answer. Story of my life. Not today. That’s the great thing about age or wisdom or maturity, you finally get to the point where you just don’t give a fuck what other people think.
The question was simply, “Do you ever think you’ll get married again?” Easy enough question, right? Not when the answer is “I’ve never been married, and I doubt I ever will.”
Everyone is always thrown back by that answer, because it makes sense to assume I once was. For one I have kids. We’ve learned as far back as small children that first comes love,– then comes marriage, — then comes the baby in the baby carriage!” I was doing it wrong for God’s sake. Ok, so illegitimacy isn’t the stigma is was 50 years ago. That wasn’t my cringe anyway. It was the confused way people looked at me and replied back, “Really? Why?” That is where I would have to explain or justify what was wrong with me. Or why I was so weird to not want to ever get married to begin with. People in general expect that all women want to be married. Even lesbians for Christ’s sake WANT TO BE MARRIED. After all, how many women do you meet at my age that haven’t been married at least once? Something is wrong with those who haven’t, or so we have been conditioned to think. I’ll be honest. I sort of think it about men. Sort of. But I have a tendency to be a Hypocrite with a capital H. Recall I don’t date men with children either.
So back to the Why.
I have a few different explanations. When I was very little I of course thought I would. I think all girls – maybe all children do. I drew pictures of Bride-Me. I remember clearly stating when I first found out what French-kissing consisted of, that “Ewwwww, only my husband will ever be allowed to do that to me!” — so the knowledge that marriage was one of the steps in life was definitely there. I think as small children we assume it is just part of the actions of life. Go to school, grow up, get married, have kids.
I’d say it was probably somewhere in my early teens that my views started to change. Maybe I thought I was asserting my independence, or being cool by stating, “Not me, I never want to get married.” but whenever I took on that role, I never really shook it off.
By my twenties, I realized it really wasn’t a cool mantra I was used to chanting. I truly didn’t see myself married. It was like some sort of gene that most people had that I wasn’t born with. I did question it a little because all around me, nearly all of my friends were hitching up, or gearing to somewhere down the road. I joked about how I was doing it backwards. Kids and then marriage. I enjoyed the amount of independence that I had even in relationships. I knew I wasn’t the a-typical female in relationships. I’m not a huge cuddler, and I enjoy being alone. I don’t need daily contact. I’ve had some relationship subside on weekends only, and not every weekend at that. The fact is I need to be alone at times. Living with someone equated to losing the down-time I love so much, and that is extremely vital to me. I remember reading a story about Wood Allen & Mia Farrow’s relationship pre-screwing his step-daughter, and how they had separate living spaces that one or both could retreat to when they needed their version of down time. Someone got it! I thought! Yaay. Weird Woody Allen and I, the only ones on the planet who don’t really want to live with our full time spouses. That adds to me feeling more normal. I had found my exception to the anti-marriage clause, but I couldn’t even quote it without people assuming I was even weirder. Two homes. Maybe live together 75/25. Yeah, unfortunately not many people go along with that.
Then comes variety. Yup, variety. Not all at once. I am a faithful gal. Nevertheless, the one thing I could never really wrap my head around was that vow, and knowing that was it. That face, would be the only face you would ever wake up to for the rest of your life. The. Rest. Of. Your. Life. Sex with that person forever. Or not if you’re in one of those marriages. I didn’t want to be in one of those marriages. Not being married added some sort of spice that I saw dissipate with my married friends. Sex lives fizzled, and boom – there you were. Stuck. No thanks.
I did at one point find myself wanting marriage. I didn’t realize at the time it wasn’t marriage I wanted, it was the validation that someone I loved so deeply would want to marry me. I convinced myself in a very ugly and unhealthy manner for myself, that his not wanting to take a trip down the aisle was directly related to who I was inside. It messed with me for some time until I had the foresight to get my ass into therapy and figure out why this was such a trigger point for me.
Today I am pretty healthy about. I don’t spout it off on the third date like a DO NOT ENTER sign. (Okay I never really did that, but I may as well have) My brother who is two years younger than me, and has also never been married has talked with me in length about it. We both clearly recall our divorced mother speaking negatively about marriage. It would make sense that if someone drills something into your head for your formative years, you might take that with you later. I’ve also been told (in therapy) that the loss of my independence is a fearful one, and marriage might equate to that loss.
I don’t know what the full answer is to be honest. Maybe there isn’t one. I’ve taken the never out of the statement I’ll never get married, because one never knows. I like to have tried most things once, so maybe in my Golden Years I’ll finally make that walk, just to finally know what all the hoop-la is about.