When the Answer is No

So last week I had dinner with my darling friend, who is also single.

The thing I love about my single friends is that we can commiserate about our shared experience in being single women of a certain age and the shit we get from people who just don't *get* it.

How can it be possible to choose to be single?  Who knew that was even an option?  There must be something *wrong*.....

[insert shifty eyed, suspicious look]

During this particular dinner we talked about what we say to people when they ask "Why don't you want to get married?"

These people are looking for an answer.  They want us to explain ourselves.  And they make it clear that our answers will be evaluated.

My friend and I both laughed about the things we throw out to these people who want us to explain the (it seems for women) unexplainable.

When I came home, I started to download the new Apple software into my iPhone and as I did, I found myself thinking about my dinner conversation.

I realized that I have an answer for those who say "Why aren't you married?"

Here it is:

I'm not married because I believe in marriage.  I believe in it fervently.  And I believe that when you stand up in front of God and that company and make those vows, you should mean them.

Let me say that again.  I think you should mean them.  And not just today.  Today and forever.  Til death do you part.  

And I've never been willing to do it.

Not ever.  Not once.

I've never felt, in my heart, the love and commitment to another person that would allow me, in good conscience, to take those vows.   

In all honesty, the night I got engaged - he asked me to marry him, gave me a big ring and as we hugged each other I thought to myself "This will never happen". 

Because as soon as he asked me, I realized that I couldn't do it.

Or maybe the better answer is that I realized that I didn't want to do it. 

Now, I tried to talk myself into it (while simultaneously sabotaging it) for the next 18 months or so.  And frankly, I think he was doing the same thing.  And when we chose to end our relationship and not be married to each other it killed me.

I don't want anybody to think that that decision was easy.  And it was much more complicated than needs to be blogged about for both my sake and his.  It was a terrible and soul shattering experience.  In many ways it was the most awful experience of my life.  It was a divorce in the truest sense.  A cutting off.  A sundering. 

I praise God all the time that I didn't marry him.  But I knew it was the right thing.  It was the only thing. As awful as the aftermath was, I remember being so blissfully happy to *not* be with him anymore. 

It was really hard for me to understand it - then and for a long time after that.  I thought it was because we weren't 'right' for each other.

But then I started to understand that it was me.  It's always been me.  I've always been willing to walk away.  I've never wanted to be somebody's wife *more* than I wanted to be free.

See?  There's actually a reason this blog is subtitled "Surprisingly Single".  Really.  And nobody is more surprised about it than I am.

But it's what I want. 

Have I been lonely?  Yes.

Am I still lonely sometimes?  Yes.

Is my life an empty shell because there is no man in it?  No.

I realize as I'm writing this that I still have few answers to most of the big questions. I still hope to meet the guy who I will want to invite into my life and that he will want to invite me into his. 

But until or unless that ever happens, just take my word for it....  There are worse things than being single. 

Image:  To Have and To Hold by Stacey Winters.


  1. This may be the most awesome post I've ever read. I kid you not. To have that kind of insight into your own heart and mind is what we should all aspire to...and what I suspect the vast majority of people never achieve. Good for you for knowing who you are, and being true to that and for respecting marriage for the sacred rite that it is.

  2. I agree with Leslie. I'm single and that's exactly right. If I meet someone I want and can commit to for life, someone who I love and respect wholeheartedly, I will get married. I'd never be happy marrying someone to keep up with the Joneses. Tonya you are awesome!

  3. I've been married now for join on 9 years - so being single doesn't describe me. However....I chose to not have children.
    Think you get shit for being single? Try being "of child-bearing age" AND married AND not wanting to have kids.
    I have absolutely no biological clock when it comes to kids. My husband has a grown son from his 1st marriage & the kid lived half way across the country so we all never really interacted much.
    So when people ask if I have kids..it goes something like this:
    Them: So do you have kids?
    Me: no.
    Them: How long have you 2 been married??
    Me: (fill in the appropriate # of years)
    Them: Well you don't want to put it off too long....
    Me: I'd like to put it off for forever actually.
    Them: (confounded look on their face) You don't like kids?
    Me: I like other peoples kids (not always, but I say that so not to be insulting) but I just never had the urge or need to have kids.
    Them: (bewildered AND confounded look on their face) Well you would change your mind once you have kids & never regret it.
    Me: Well I had a tubal electrosurg ligation back when I was 32 years old, so I eliminated that option.
    Them: (horrified look on their face) What about your husband? Doesn't he want kids???
    Me: He has a grown son from a 1st marriage - he's good.
    Them: (defensive stance) Well I just cannot imagine not having/wanting children.
    Me: I can't imagine having/wanting children. It all evens out.
    and so on...

    Typically the "them's" end up standing back from me as if I'm some self-centered, selfish, kid-hater that they don't want to be associated with.

    My thinking is that I put a hell of a lot of thinking into my decision to NOT have kids, but I hear all too often of some (some not ALL - but some) women's quick, foolish & not very well thought out decision to have kids. Whether they are trying to desperately hang on to a failing relationship or giving in to peer pressure or the so-called ticking clock syndrome. I didn't just run out one Tuesday & get a tubal surgery - I had to wait until I was a certain age before my doctor would go forward with the surgery just to make sure I was of clear mind & decision. You can bet I thought it through. Yet I know of more than a few women who "forgot to take their BCP's" & got pregnant or secretly stopped taking BC so they could get pg & save their marriage (????) or fulfill some void or have kids because...well "aren't you supposed to have kids".

    I got no unfilled voids. My life is "complete"...well except for that vacation home in Key West - but we're working on that. I don't need a kid to take care of me in my golden years or to continue on my family heritage for genealogy sake. It's all good.

  4. I love this. I love that you respect marriage the way I do. I love that it is a choice we can make, many women still do not have this choice. But mostly I love when you say:
    "I believe that when you stand up in front of God and that company and make those vows, you should mean them. Let me say that again. I think you should mean them. And not just today. Today and forever. Til death do you part."
    Because that is the most courageous of all.

  5. Thank you all for your sweet comments. And Jane? Your comment should have been a whole guest post!

  6. Again, I could have written this post {minus the being engaged part}.
    I also REFUSE to sit around and wait to get married...or work myself to death trying to find the guy.
    I am happy where I am. Perhaps I will get married some day, but if not, I am okay. Why don't others understand that??


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