T is a 27 year old editor in New York City.
How did you arrive at the decision to not get married? How firm are you in this decision?
I’ve gone back and forth a lot about marriage, but in the past few years I’ve seen a lot of marriages fall apart, and I fell in love with a man who is in the midst of a divorce. He’s been pretty soured on the institution, and I’ve found I’m fine with that. We also have an open relationship–we spend most nights together, but we do occasionally have other partners. I have been shocked to find how well this has worked for us, since I always assumed I’d end up in a monogamous relationship. Since we’re not doing traditional monogamy, it seems kind of silly to have the traditional monogamy-oriented wedding. We have discussed at some point having a Jewish ceremony with just us, two witnesses, and an officiant. That seems like something that would make us feel formally committed to each other without asking anyone to spend crazy money, or wear a dress they hate, or give us a blender. But if we decide never to do even that, it would be fine with me. I can imagine that my family would be displeased if we started having kids without being married, but I don’t really care.
Where did you get your thoughts about marriage?
My parents had a lovely marriage that lasted well over 30 years. But when my mother died it became clear that she did so much more in the relationship than my father ever did. Watching that really made me think about the pitfalls of marriage, how it can end up with one person doing all the work and the other person reaping all the benefits. I also read a book called Wifework by Susan Maushart that delved into the research about marriage. It talks a lot about how marriage is awesome for the dude, and often a poor deal for the lady. That made me think hard about how to choose a partner, and how to decide if I really want to get married.
What do you say to folks who ask you when you’re getting married?
My partner is actually still married to his ex–the divorce is not final, so I get to say, “But he’s already married!” Sometimes I say, “We’re talking about it.” Other times, “Never! Thanks for asking!”
Why do you think there’s such a stigma against women who aren’t married/choose not to be married? How do you think this stigma has affected you?
I think most people are uncomfortable thinking about a world in which they are not paired up with someone, so when they come across a single person they just assume that person is sad and lonely, as they would be if they were single. The desperation ascribed to single people makes me incredibly irritated, because I think it’s really mostly desperation from outside forces to get people to have heterosexual partners.
What are your feelings on the word “spinster”?
I hate the word spinster. It seems so dowdy and old to me. I prefer swingin’ single.