Three Reasons Why I Am Not Married. ~ Kim Roberts

Via on Mar 5, 2011
Photo: epSos.de

While the masses rage for change in Northern Africa, this week I am waging my own revolution, ousting the mental dictator who has created poverty and destruction in my life. After posting an uncharacteristic piece on my blog, I realized this must be the moment for happy, single women to speak up. My sentiments were coincidentally mirrored in several articles in the media, and yet I feel there is more to add. So while everyone else is speculating about Why I Am Not Married, I thought I’d add my two cents.

Tracy McMillan, in her article, Why You Are Not Married, informs me that I am not married because I am a shallow, lying, selfish, insecure bitch.

Hmm. I’m not buying it. Oh, and #6, I’m a slut. Ok, sure, I can accept that. From a Victorian perspective, it is true. And thank goddess, because if I had been waiting until marriage, I would be pissed.

Then CNN’s Jessica Ravitz adds that the reason why she is not married is that life just happened that way. Fair enough. Things happen. Or they don’t.

But, maybe there is another reason besides the possibility that we singles are all slutty bitches, or victims of circumstance. I propose 3 more possibilities:

Reason #8: I am a product of my generation:

My mother majored in Home Economics and married my father before they even graduated university. She knew she was destined for marriage, so an MRS degree was all she needed to assure her future, or so she thought. In her day, there was no other choice.

Photo: Gregg O'Connell

Starting with my generation, women are now expected to work. We live an independent life outside the home before we consider starting our own families, so the dynamics have shifted, at least for women. I don’t think they even offer degrees in Home Economics anymore. Sometimes I wonder if men’s expectations have kept up with the changes since my mother’s generation.

Reason #9: I am a child of divorce:

As are many of us these days. When my father left us to go make his fortune with another woman, my mother suddenly had to figure out how to support herself and two small girls. This is perhaps an exaggerated version of the story, but it is the one my eleven year old self remembers. My mother had never had a career; she never thought she would have to. Her only work experience was a temporary part time job at the bridal counter of Garfinkels department store before I was born. Suddenly, she was in survival mode. She got up out of bed, got a job at a women’s clothing boutique, and slowly paid her way through real estate school to become an agent.

So I was raised by a single mother who drove me to my first job interview at age 13, lying for me about my age on the job application to circumvent the labor laws that said I had to be 14 to work. I hostessed and waited tables continuously through high school and university. The screaming subtext to this story was: never be dependent upon a man. Learn to support yourself. And when I was born in the summer of 1965, women were marching just down the street on the capitol in DC for my right to do this.

This era was also about the time that divorce started becoming fashionable. I know because when my parents did it, I was the only one in my junior high class of 300, that I knew of anyway, who didn’t have a father at home. My parents haven’t had a kind word to say to each other in over 30 years. I’ve experienced firsthand the destruction that comes from marriage gone bad. So do you think I was in a hurry to go running down the aisle?

I never particularly wanted to end up single, but I sure as hell didn’t want to end up divorced. And as a child of divorce, I never ever wanted to put children through that experience. Can you blame me? And there is one sure way to avoid that: don’t have children. And these days, if you are not having children, is there really a need for marriage?

I’m not sure this was the most sane response, but it is one that played a part in my history.

But this doesn’t explain the most important reason of all.

Reason #10: I have a choice:

My mother never had any doubt that she would get married. Women in her generation expected that they would be supported by a man. They had to expect this, as women did not have the freedom to create a life that we do now. So my mother married a man who was, frankly, not very respectful to her. And now that my mother does have a choice, she will not marry again.

I was raised in an entirely different culture than my mother’s, where marriage and children were the assumed outcome of a woman’s life. Never once has anyone in my family said to me, “OK Kim, it’s time you got married now.” My messages were always along the lines of, “How are you going to support yourself?” So I have. And, I’ve been fortunate enough to find something that I love to do.

I suppose I always thought I would work at my career long enough to meet someone to take care of me. It was never the assumption that I would end up doing this my whole life. I was just supposed to start a career, not finish one as well.

But, probably as a result of Reason #9, I got involved in some very unhealthy relationships with disrespectful men. I’ve made some poor choices. Who hasn’t? And I’ve had to work through a lot of heartbreak, which takes its toll. There is still work to be done.

So what is my responsibility here? Am I simply a product of a generational oversight? A victim of a bad divorce? A contributor to societal disintegration? I don’t know.

I do know that it is still a man’s world, despite all the “progress” we have made advancing women’s rights. I never considered myself a feminist. I don’t support the theory that feminists love divorce, or that “feminism also taught women that men are idiots,” but I do agree that many of the “rights” we women earned from the Equal Rights Amendment caused more harm than good. I now have the right to go to war. Goody. Just what I always wanted. And now, working is not just a right, but an expectation, on top of all the other things expected of us women.

I like having a man open the door for me. I’ll admit it: I love men. But what I don’t love is being abused, tricked, exploited, bullied, or taken for a ride. And since my mother showed me another option, then if I have to use that option I am perfectly capable of it. No, let me rephrase that: I am perfectly happy living on my own.

From the great blog rae-regenbogen

Because I have a choice. And my choice is this: I choose respect. And if a man is not willing to show me this, then I choose to be alone. My self respect comes first.

And yet I can’t help feeling sometimes that it is precisely my independence, my capability, my fearlessness to create my own life that has scared off some men. I am a threat.

The fact is that in 21st century America I don’t need a man. That doesn’t mean I don’t want a man, and it doesn’t mean I don’t need love. I do.

But I never learned to dote on a man June Cleaver style, and there are still a lot of Beavers out there. That simply was not part of my upbringing. I learned to take care of others, but also myself. Thank goodness for that. So while Ms. McMillan lists all the things we women need to respect to win a man, I would add that there are a few things he has to respect to win me. If I have to choose between disrespect and being alone, then I choose to be alone.

But there is something more important than any of this speculation about my marriage prospects. It is my state of mind around the whole situation. Rather than setting my sights on a pre-fabricated goal, striving to behave in a way to reach success, the most important thing is to maintain an open mind about the situation. If I am happy, then really what does any of it matter?

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When not on pilgrimage or retreat in Crestone, Kim Roberts leads yoga and meditation retreats in Bhutan. Visit her website, or follow her travels on the blog, Diary of a Pilgrim.

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17 Responses to “Three Reasons Why I Am Not Married. ~ Kim Roberts”

  1. lisa says:

    i loved this article and related heavily with it. hope to see more of your writing with elephant.
    lisa

  2. Siri says:

    I understand the choice you've made for similar reasons and not.

  3. Alden says:

    This is very true. I recently solicited financial advice from women over fifty for an article, and it was enlightening so see how many responses were simply, "Don't depend on a man." The woman of our parent's generation were taught to depend on men, then left high and dry in many instances. Even my happily married aunt told me that she wish she had kept an eye on her finances much earlier on, and had her own savings account.

    I was raised to believe in marriage, but also to believe in a prenup, because my money is mine, and his money is his. End of story.

  4. Carol says:

    I am the same age, unmarried, happily cohabitating with a man, but not seeing any major reason to get married just yet. Perhaps I will for health insurance, home ownership, tax deductions, etc. Half of the people I know are divorced, so I'm not sure what the big deal is.

  5. SnowYogi says:

    My husband and I got married last July. He had been my best friend for 6 years, we have been living together for 2, and we both mutually felt like getting married was an extension of, and wonderful next step in moving forward in our relationship. I'm in my late 20s, he in his mid 30s. We met as fully independent and capable adults, and have an extremely respectful relationship. We did not have a "traditional" wedding, just a simple civil ceremony at City Hall with only our family and a handful of our closest friends. And our dogs of course ;) I really truly believe marriage isn't for everyone. BUT, I think we both understood the step known as "marriage" to mean the same thing to both of us. A gesture full of meaning – a gesture more to each other than to anyone else – but ALSO to our family, friends and the world at large that we are choosing to make each other and our life together our priority. We are consciously choosing to make a life-long commitment to a life together, and whatever the future may bring us. I think, at least for us, that was the key. That we understood the "purpose" of the marriage to mean the same thing. To us it is a commitment to the practice of being each other's partner. Because we have so much fun together and love each other so much I couldn't imagine a life any other way. No, you don't NEED to get married to make that commitment and live that way. But we wanted to. And we did so extremely mindfully and full of joy. He is my best friend and my life partner and I choose, every day, to spend my life with him.

  6. SnowYogi says:

    PS Like you, I was also raised by my mother to never depend on any man for survival – though she and my father met at 17 and are still married 40 years later – go figure. I have always lived that way and continue to. However I have learned there is a real difference between having to depend on someone and choosing to. For a while the act of "needing" anyone seemed very foreign and dangerous, and for a while threatened to dismantle the relationship my then-boyfriend and I were building. It was a process to learn the difference, and really trust that I could depend on/need him (not for money or stability, but for happiness, companionship etc) without losing my fundamental independence.

  7. I got officially divorced July 22 2010. By July 28 i was married (to Claudia Azula. who writes here). I love being in a committed relationship and, for me, its the first time in years that I have a genuine interest in seeing it through to the end (so to speak). Three good things about it:
    1) No stress doing the non-stop "search" for better.
    2) We now search for the better in each other to support each other.
    3) Its fun

    the key to finding the right person was sort of like an approach I take as an investor: I cut my losses quickly:
    A) as soon as you don't like someone or know its not going to work – end it.
    B) I was at the stage of my life I didn't want to go into something just for the sex if I knew it was going to be a long-term relationship
    C) i worked every day at it (hitting the dating services, meeting people my friends recommended, etc) – but always with the view of cutting "losses" immediately. No wasted time.

  8. LasaraAllen says:

    Kim, good stuff. Follow your ease – and when that doesn't work, question it! :-)

  9. [...] we must know that this feeling is not only normal, but it is natural and therefore healthy. It is not problematic, though many relationships go to ruin over believing that something is [...]

  10. themanescene says:

    Thank you, great article. Being a perfectly happy single gal, I love this, "I am perfectly happy living on my own."

  11. [...] a result of the ‘mate for life’ message that modern American society drills into our heads from the day we’re born, I feel that I’m [...]

  12. Brian Macker says:

    "In her day, there was no other choice."

    You must be like 150, because women were in the workforce as professionals long before the feminist movement. It was due to this thing called capitalism. I suggest you read some Thomas Sowell. Yes, there was a time long before your mother was born where it was true that being a profession wasn't possible, but even then the careers were limited and not absent. One could be a respected working spinster if you wanted, it just wasn't seen as desirable. Just like one can be respected but not envied for marrying an ugly women. Were your mother driven she could have been a doctor like many of the female doctors her age retiring now.

  13. [...] > Three reasons why I am not married. ~ Kim Roberts [...]

  14. [...] “I’m single,” I said matter-of-factly, “I don’t have a partner.” [...]

  15. [...] Fifth, I can stop making this list because it’s already been written here, here and here. [...]

  16. Artman says:

    Hi Diane,
    I know you have been lonely and it is a difficult and lonely life. Just resort to writing and know that you are loved by one man that will always have you in his Heart! Please know this as you are a very special woman and beautiful in every way.

    A

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