In spite of all the options we’re told we have, women are still expected to devote a significant part of our energy to finding “the one” and nailing them down. From the time we’re little girls, we’re given the message that no matter what else we do in our lives, finding someone to marry (and have children with) is among, if not the, most important thing we can do. But if you don’t want to get married?
What if it’s never been part of your life plan? Whether you’ve always known marriage wasn’t for you, or you’ve recently realized it, or you’ve been married or engaged and never ever want to do it again, being a woman who doesn’t desire marriage is not an easy space to occupy. Here are 13 women who don’t want to get married, explaining why.
Marriage seems like an assignment, instead of an active choice.
“I didn’t see a lot of “working” marriages centered on love, so I suppose that’s why. Marriage always looked like a list of “musts” and “have tos” and “well, I guess” going through the motions. I didn’t aspire to it watching the adults in my life. Now, I see it as an institution some enter into out of obligation – which is unfortunate, but that some see as a vow to work through life as a pair. ….Most people haven’t considered marriage as the affirmative choice; for most it’s the default position (just like having kids).” — K, New York
It’s impractical to choose only one person for your whole life.
“It seemed and continues to seem ridiculous that I would pick one person to get all these shared legal privileges and that this is meant to be the person I am having sex/a romantic relationship with. Why should a relationship like that be privileged over others (leaving aside the question of why one given romantic relationship, which is also worth raising) when we all have different preferences about which relationships are more important in our lives? I’ve always liked the Iris Murdoch (I believe–I’ve seen it attributed to her, anyway) line that you should marry [pair-bond, whatever] when you can’t believe your luck. And I feel pretty lucky on my own.” — E, Washington, DC
“I don’t think “until death do us part” is necessarily in anyone’s best interests. How can you vow to stay with someone when people change, circumstances change, tumors cause personality changes, mental illnesses develop, you might meet someone else with whom you fall in love…No wonder divorce and infidelity are so common; these are impossible standards for most couples.” — M, California
“I don’t understand the rationale of promising someone you love that you will never love anyone else. In my own experience, there have been several people through the years who have blown my mind in every way – physically, intellectually, that unknown quality that draws you to another human being like a magnet – not just one, several. I am so thankful that I have been available each time they came in to my life, and not restricted by a promise I made to the last one. ” — J, Alaska
“One of my core beliefs is that people can love more than one person at a time and that two people can’t be everything to each other. I also believe that relationships can succeed even if they don’t look like what we as a society expect. And I believe that not everyone needs to be in a relationship.” — Y, New York
“I’ve never seen any utility in marriage beyond purely economic purposes—and I vehemently disagree with the way so many societies privilege and reward married relationships over others, both socially and economically. Ultimately, families and relationships are flexible but enduring configurations of people that (ideally) come together from a place of love and kinship to support each other and survive. I don’t believe that institutions of the state, the market, or of religion have any place telling people what those configurations may be.” — M, New York
“I want to invest in more than one personal relationship in my life, and feel that marriage encourages a super insular support system. It is designed so that one person is your everything, or almost-everything. I don’t feel that’s healthy or sustainable, and it’s not something I want.” — A, Los Angeles
Marriage is bad for women (and everyone).
“I object to the ‘traditional’ nature of marriage – I am not property, I will not obey, I shall not be given from one man (person, anyone) to another.” — W.D, Australia
“Growing up lesbian and feminist I found (and still do) the idea, the concept and the institution of marriage totally repugnant. It is outdated and useless for modern women. Plus, the history of marriage for women is atrocious, it has positioned women as the property of men. There is no way to reform or redeem the institution – or to queer it.” — S, New York
“Women frequently take enormous economic risks upon enter marriage: they give up employment, and allow their social and professional networks to be weakened, in order to devote time to raising children. Then, some years down the road, either they realize that the cost of being in the marriage is greater than the loss they will suffer, or their husbands decide to drop out of the marriage. As a culture we are quick to criticize single parents, but we are equally quick to promote unquestioning faith in marriage. Despite how common this phenomenon of situational poverty is, we seem to lack a social sensitivity to underlying problem: that we treat marriage like an infallible institution, when in fact, marriage is a very weak institution that offers few protections.” — N, New York
You shouldn’t have to get married to prove your love and commitment to someone.
“I don’t like the idea of changing my name, or even discussing changing my name. I suppose it’s easy to say that I highly value my independence, but it seems more complicated than that. I firmly value love and loving, not an institution.” — M, Kentucky
“I wanted (and needed) my partner staying to be a daily, affirmative choice rather than an ongoing obligation as enforced by the law.” — M, New York
“I hate the idea that somehow marriage forces individuals to behave more responsibly to each other. I would like to think that we have evolved beyond that point, though evidence may suggest many of us just aren’t there yet. The marriage industry makes a valiant effort to get women to overlook all the ways in which they get shortchanged by entering into that contract.” — J, New York
Related-ish: 10 Reasons You Should be Single In Your Early 20s