Saying "I Don't"
Continued (page 2 of 2)
I had come to relate much more over the years to marriage-phobic men who wanted to stay bachelors as long as possible than to most women I knew.
I’ve always felt lucky and proud to be unburdened by this aching need to marry. And I’ve tried to use my stance to help unburden other women whose desires to get married compromise the choices they make in mates and other areas of their lives. When I started the teen magazine Sassy, we promoted the idea that it’s cool to not have a boyfriend. Then one of my missions with Jane magazine, for women in their 20s, was to encourage women to enjoy their single years rather than race to get married. On my radio show I counsel many callers to put off their weddings until they are more certain about them, and I tell others to not stay married for the sake of the children.
I espouse the idea that I’ve never viewed getting married as an accomplishment in itself—but I did learn, by witnessing the strength it took my mom to leave my father, that getting divorced can be. It shocks me that there are still shows like The Bachelor that presume that getting a marriage proposal is some sort of prize. A boyfriend and I said the line “We will get married when our gay friends can all do the same” years before I heard Brad and Angelina use that excuse. I’ve also said, “The only time I can imagine getting married is when I’m 90 and need some help getting around. Then it might be worthwhile.”
So back to me out-crying the mothers and fathers of the newlyweds at every wedding I’ve ever attended. Why, if I truly care so little about weddings, do they make me so emotional? Did my parents’ divorce have a different impact on me than I’ve realized? As I’m discussing this on the air, a guy calls in and tells me how deeply he feels about the woman he married years ago. He tells me about the vows they took and about how much more they’ve endured than they could have imagined the day they took them and I start to get teary-eyed. I realize that I cry so much at weddings because I could never imagine anyone actually knowing me that well and loving me that unconditionally, that permanently. “She is the best traveling companion I ever could have hoped for,” says the caller before we hang up.
After the show wraps, I think about what he said. Maybe he’s on to something. Being married might be something like being a lifelong traveling companion. Life’s a journey, after all. And marriages can morph along with life’s circumstances, just like rolling with the punches on any good trip I’ve ever taken. Maybe it’s the most safe yet fluid journey out there. And I may even take it myself one day. Maybe even before I turn 90.