10 Reasons I Never Married & You Shouldn’t Either. ~ Brenda Clevenger

Via elephant journal
on May 3, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

Love is the answer, marriage isn’t.

What most parents, ministers and already married people won’t tell you is that marriage has an opt-in button. Don’t push it.

My marriage stats are zero for zero, which in my mind is far better than zero for three like many people in my circle. Put a little positive spin on my spinsterhood and I can even say that by not being married, I’ve placed myself in the upper 10 percentile.

Will You Not Marry Me?  

Some people get married because they want to and others because they have to. My birth control has been bullet proof, so I haven’t fallen into the later category. And even if the conservatives call me a ho or prostitute, or if they support a world that pays me 70 cents on the dollar, I’ll always make enough to pay for my birth control pills whether they’re covered by insurance or not.

Christians get married to follow God’s wishes for us to marry, mate and procreate under the institution of marriage.

“Marriage is a fine institution. I’m just not ready for an institution.”
~ Mae West

Too many people get married because they don’t want to go it alone or can’t stand themselves enough to be alone after a breakup. The sad thing is they become serial daters or marriage junkies who are always hitched but still unhappy.

Don’t jump to the conclusion that I’m a man-hating old biddy. I love life. I love men and I love waking up next to a man who brings me pleasure and coffee. I had such an arrangement for 14 years.

Which is why I know for a fact that having someone in our lives to share our highs and lows with is pure ecstasy. Being with the right person makes you a better person. However, that person doesn’t have to be your spouse to complete any arbitrary equation.

Enter Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell and Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham who are both my role models of a healthy, long term-relationship. My prior role models are married and bicker continuously.

Now that I’ve laid the foundation that I agree that love is the answer, let me tell you why marriage, for me, isn’t.

  • 1. I Drank the Kool-aid and Spit it Out.

  • For those 20 or 30 somethings that don’t remember Home Economics class, we were taught cooking, sewing and how to plan our wedding all before the 10th grade. I loved the class though I sucked at cooking and sewing, but boy did I love looking at those wedding magazines and picking out my dress, cake, flowers and all the other fairy tale stories we were brainwashed with growing up. I made a grand little wedding album and budget and then tossed it away never to be executed.
  • 2.  One Wed Wonders Aren’t so Wonderful.

  • I’ve always asked couples that married right the first time, what their secret was. I even started a blog called One Wed Wonders because of my fascination with those who reached their Golden Wedding Anniversary still hitched. What I learned was most lived in separate parts of the household and tolerated each other at best. Many were swingers and credited that lifestyle with saving their marriage. The best answers for their longevity together were pretty weak. So I discontinued the blog and questioning because one wed wonders weren’t any smarter than the rest of us just more resilient or using an open marriage as a crutch.
  • 3. There’s Something Wrong with Me.

  • Try to fix up any never-been-married person over the age of 40 and you’ll get interrogated. What’s the story? What kind of leprosy do they have? For me it’s the leprosy of non-conformity, which makes trying to fit into the Betty Crocker box of being a perfect wife challenging. There’s no amount of icing you can spread over my flaky, Dharma-like personality to mask that I’m a dreamer, a Pisces – the illusive fish that can’t be caught.
  • 4. Other People’s Children Are Evil.

  • My biological clock must have gotten broken along with my hymen. I never had the urge for kids, but I tried like mad to help raise several for 14 years. They were good kids despite kicking me in the mouth when trying to read them bedtime stories, telling me my boyfriend’s other girlfriend was on the phone every time it rang, and walking in on their daddy when I was playing “Come to Mamma” one too many times. Other people’s children are little Gremlins that don’t deserve to see the light of day.
  • 5. Tastes Like Chicken.

  • I asked a friend why she didn’t leave her husband that she complained about often and she said, it would just be the same shit, different man, if she moved on. It got me thinking; there truly are a lot of commonalities in husbands and wives.


  • There certainly is a lot of rotating going on in the swap and shop of divorcees, but in the end,  you end up with a new dish that tastes like chicken. I left my 14-year relationship shortly after catching that bouquet mentioned in the caption and rode off into the sunset with someone I knew I would marry. My love quest didn’t end at the alter as planned, but come to think of it, he did taste like chicken.
  • 6. I Don’t Like It On My Knees.

  • When I was 16, I saw my mom on her knees asking my father not to leave her for another woman. I never wanted to see another woman, particularly myself, in that position again unless it was to give thanks or assume Ustrasana or Marjaryasana (Camel or Cat pose).
  • 7.  I Want to Be Alone.

  • I like to come and go as I please. I like not having to put the toilet seat down or ask for the TV to be turned down or off. I like taking out the trash, changing my oil, and taking care of my needs and those of whom I love. I like my own company—a lot.
  • 8. Always the Bimbo, Never the Bride.

  • This could be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I’m courted but never escorted down the aisle. I’m the girlfriend, the live-in, the good time, the life of the party—but never the bride.
  • 9. I Don’t Need a Man to Make Me Honest.

  • I was a Brownie. I am a Christian. I don’t need a man to marry me to make me an honest woman. I need a man to honor me to make me a happy woman. Let’s don’t get the cart before the husband. There is no shame in “living in sin.”
  • 10. I Want it All.

  • I’d rather love someone with my whole heart and never have him as my lover or husband just like Yu Shu Lien for Master Li Mu Bai, in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, than give myself completely to someone who is not fully available to me emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I hear too many marriages are lived by absentee ballot or love by proxy.

Here’s a translation for any men who are reading this and scratching their ….

“Show me I’m number one in your life or leave me the f*#* alone.” See #7.


Editor: Hayley Samuelson.


Brenda Clevenger has been happily unmarried for 50 years. She travels, enjoys passionate romances, and extravagant indulgences so her married friends can live vicariously through her. You can read about her midlife adventures at www.midlifemonalisa.com or at www.facebook.com/midlifemona.




About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter. Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? Send to [email protected]


34 Responses to “10 Reasons I Never Married & You Shouldn’t Either. ~ Brenda Clevenger”

  1. Annie Ory says:

    You would be an "old biddy". "Bitty" is something small')

    Open marriage is not a crutch. It's a life style choice, and polyamorous people even say it's a sexual orientation. It's a reasonable choice that should be among the many on the table to people living in a "free" country. Whether it's for you or not, whether or not you want to share, it's also a reasonable personal choice. If open/poly people will refrain from talking in negative terms about your choices, perhaps you might do the same for them? I know they will appreciate it.

    You "rode" off, rather than "road" off – sorry, it's the moon. I'm told there's something retrograde that gets all our dander up about our 'stuff'. Spelling is some of my stuff. I know. It doesn't matter.

    Number 5 feels like a reason to stay someone in a committed relationship. If I know it's all my stuff, and I will take it with me to a new relationship, why not stay and work on it with the person I've already committed to, and built a life with, and love and respect? Get down inside of this thing that doesn't work for me, and figure out how I make it happen, or let it happen, or both.

    Number 6 can happen to anyone, married or not. Good for you for choosing early not to give yourself away completely. That's a good thing for anyone to choose, whether or not they ever marry.

    Number 7 is easy enough, just negotiate your relationships that way – married or not.

    Most of what you've said here has little to do with marriage, and everything to do with relationship. I hopehopehope for you that you find someone who's promise of love and commitment you can trust to give you your number 10.

    I hope that for everyone who dreams of it.

  2. Kim J. says:

    You are fired up and right on the money, honey! Long live independence and good times.

  3. Brenda says:

    Yes, good idea. You are self-centered and self-consumed. Definitely not marriage worthy.

  4. Kelli says:

    I have always believed that the main purpose of marriage is to provide stability for the raising of children. If you are not compelled to have children, then getting married is definitely optional. Oh, and if you are REALLY compelled to have children, marriage is still optional. It's just much nicer if you have some help.

    And you are right, your married friends do enjoy living vicariously through you…I know I do.

  5. Betty says:

    You bring up a lot of thought provoking ideas, and ones that make old married folk scratch their heads and wonder. Breathing the fresh air of freedom and independence every day is certainly a satisfying way to live life.

  6. @MidlifeMona says:

    Annie, you're awesome and I wish I had your eye for typos and your mindset for relationships. Yes, if I had to do life over again, I would have stayed and worked on #5, but for every door closed another opens

  7. @MidlifeMona says:

    Part Vata, Part Pitta — I'm definitely passionate and on fire about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness together or alone.

  8. @MidlifeMona says:

    I'm fascinated by women and men who been together 35-65 years. I'm even enviable at times if the relationship has actually moved forward not backward. This longevity just wasn't in my DNA. My Chinese astrological summary is a Tiger who walks alone in the woods. Meaning I'm a very solitary animal.

  9. Tim P. says:

    I agree… there are many great qualities to a lifestyle of complete autonomy – coming/going as you please, eating whatever you want whenever you want, the ability to travel at will to glorious locations that suit your tastes, no one changing the channel in the middle of the movie you’re watching, etc. That is… until you meet that special someone with whom it’s the most enjoyable experience to just sit and BE with him/her, no matter the locale, event or time of day. Days when there’s nothing you’d rather do than make life better for that person in just some small way. When THAT person comes along, it just somehow makes Life more fulfilling, but hopefully not in the sense of the two of you ‘completing’ one another. It’s really about the other ‘c’s – care, compassion, concern, commitment and allowing your heart to expand in a way that projects those virtues outward to another human-being. The ultimate form of commitment I suppose is marriage and I speak neither for nor against it here because it’s my belief that decision should be up to the couple involved – whether they be of different gender or the same. Thank God we live in a country that (is supposed to..) protect our personal freedoms. There are many valid reasons to tie the knot – foremost among them could be legal concerns, health care coverage and investment decisions… but essentially LOVE should be the driving force behind that step and if you don’t have that, just throwing an extravagant (wedding) party isn’t going to keep the relationship going no matter how hard you try to make it work.

  10. BobK says:

    No need for so much justification for how your life turned out. Other's lives turn out differently. I fell in love over 30 years ago and am still married to the same person: it is just how I got to go through this life. No right or wrong, no justification, no comparisons to other person's lives; just getting on with it. I have no secrets for why we are still together (although having raised two wonderful children is certainly a strong glue), but I can say that I have never had to TRY to find or create 'attraction, love or excitement' it was just naturally there. The relationship has brought a particular set of challenges and struggles that we have gone through and continue to go through. There has, however, always been a sense of freshness and adventure in our relationship: no idea where it comes from. The next step is the possibility of growing old together and I am very much looking forward to it.

  11. @MidlifeMona says:

    Thank you for you extradinatory insights and wisdom, kind Tim. The section on love above made me gush.

  12. @MidlifeMona says:

    Congratulations on your healthy and vital relationship. I hope you do grow old together and that I find someone to share 1/2 of what is sounds like you've found. I love your comment about not comparing. That is where we tend (me especially) to get ourselves into trouble in life.

  13. @MidlifeMona says:

    Oh what a fabulous life you've carved on the hill with a wonderful practice, husband, and yogi lifestyle that you share so freely with your students. You are wise and wonderful. I'm proud to have your as a friend, teacher, and model of a life yet to achieve.

  14. Hali says:

    Very good article!

  15. Jennifer says:

    Great piece Brenda. I will pass along to my other birds of a feather friends!

  16. Paul S. says:

    I couldn't agree more with #7 and #10.

    However, "Other people’s children are little Gremlins that don’t deserve to see the light of day" is an awful statement. This is, of course, going to be situation dependent but I think as a general statement you are completely wrong.

  17. warriorsaint says:

    Whoa, Nelly I am 100% in your corner! I was contentedly single and would have stayed that way except the man I love (and have been with for 14 years) needed a green card. Many of other peoples's children are annoying little Gremlins was spot on.

  18. Nadia says:

    My experience? When you date someone with children, you'll never get #10 as the kids will always usurp you. But sometimes the kids are more enjoyable than their parent, frankly.

  19. Thanks for calling me on that Paul. I was being a drama queen to get a reaction more than sincerely believing that. My apologies.

  20. What's the deal with the 14-year syndrome? Hope that worked out for both of you. Thanks for chiming in and making me feel less out there.

  21. Thanks for that insight Nadia. My experience is sometimes that parents of the men I date are what I hate to give up most and I love the kids once the turn into teenagers (not so needy human beings). Here's to love and compromise and more love!

  22. Thanks Hali, do your recognize the wedding shot you BFF and beautiful bride?

  23. Marie says:

    I wish Elephant Journal would find a real editor and proofreader.

  24. Well, we have several. This particular article was edited by an intern, who generally does a spectacular job and is one of our best. If you have a specific concern, there is a link at the bottom of the page where you can email our editorial department and one of us will get back to you.

  25. Perhaps Onnie Ofry is for hire. Sorry to disappoint.

  26. […] a feminist streak who had witnessed the demise of her parents’ relationship a few years before. I decided that I was never going to fall prey that heteronormative, societal slave trap. I was going to make something of my life and no amount of schmaltzy, romantic bullshit was going […]

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

  28. […] is tragedy plus time. Hollywood without the institution of marriage would be like late-night talk-show monologues without presidential […]

  29. Pretty cool Blog – I’ll be passing it on 🙂

  30. […] to get married and it probably didn’t matter a whole lot who my spouse-to-be was. Can any of you biological clock people […]

  31. I agree totally with your whole article! I am also 57 years happily single. I enjoy my own company, and if I need a hug I get one from a friend or …. a Lover! :o)

  32. coleslaw head says:

    You're free to live as you please, your article however, had a negative, bitter, unresovled childhood issues vibe to it.