“Who doesn’t want to get married?”
Here we go, I thought with a hard eye roll as the query popped up in my phone’s GroupMe app. Being one of few girls in a male-dominated chat group, and the only girl who has little to no desire to say “I do,” I try to avoid discourse on marriage. I prefer to jump into a sports debate or even sit on the sideline as the homies discuss the latest big bootied –woman du jour. Anything but another conversation about commitment among my group of late-twentysomething-upwardly-mobile-former-urban-youths looking to break the cycle of Black underachievement by becoming the new millennium Cosbys. The topic came up, as one of my friends let it slip that I was the lone wolf of the group who is skeptical that the institution of marriage will save the Black family, Black wealth, and the Black Community. There I was, alone in the hot seat, defending my life choices.
Image: Jeny Eyre via Shutterstock
I don’t remember how I replied. Depending on what day of the week one asks why I don’t want to get married, he or she can receive a different answer. Among them:
- I’m too individualistic.
- Marriage is for raising children and acquiring assets, neither of which I’m interested in.
- I want no parts of wedding planning.
- The idea of “merging lives” with a man sounds like I become a pod person with a stranger last name.
- I was raised in a house full of women. I scoff at the notion of male authority. Unless I’m having sex.
- It's hard to get past the whole "marriage used to mean women as property" thing.
- I’d rather not ever have to bitch at someone to take out the trash or pick up their socks.
- The idea of an adult texting me “What’s for dinner?” as if he has never fed himself before he met me makes me want to scream.
- Promising forever at the onset goes against my strict “under promise, over deliver” mantra.
Despite my insistence that there was nothing wrong with me preferring to live either alone or some variation of “together apart,” I couldn’t help but feel dysfunctional when I found myself repulsed by the idea of marriage. I began to wonder, what kind of person doesn’t want to get married? In the last few years, I’ve dedicated many conversations and blog posts to the root of my disdain. Was it being raised by a single mother, who, despite a few live-in situations and a 14-month marriage, has elected to live out her senior citizen days solo because she simply “can’t be bothered with no man”? Perhaps I’ve just been in too many bad relationships? What if I really am a selfish, ball-busting she-devil, too damaged to receive love?
I pondered circumstances under which I might change my mind. Maybe if I found someone who didn’t want kids (or was at least down with adoption), would let me keep my last name, wouldn’t mind living in separate homes, wouldn’t ever utter the word “submit” outside of the boudoir, didn’t have the type of family that would demand I have a wedding or bring anything other than wine to Thanksgiving dinner, I could do it. Or maybe if Dwyane Wade, Charlie Hunnam, or Idirs Elba made the offer? I was told again and again that marriage, like life, is what you make it and with the right partner I could trick it out to be whatever I want.
You know what’s easier than re-inventing the wheel? Not trying to roll on it in the first place. I can waste blog posts, conversations, and precious brain space trying to fit my square peg in marriage’s round hole, or I can go about the business of building a life that won’t require shape-shifting. It may just be a life that may find me alone, with a long-term, live-in domestic partner, or with a series of homie-lover-friends and travel/concert companions with whom I share laughs, good food, good drinks, holidays, and important life moments—from separate residences.
I doubt I’ll ever escape the “Why” and “But are you sure?” conversations. Instead of turning into a fire-breathing dragon, demanding acceptance for my choices, however, I may just give a nonchalant “I’m not really into tradition” accompanied by a playful shrug. Sorry, but I no longer have time to convince folks to let me live. There are far too many drinks, meals, and men to be had.
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