One of my favorite things about being a relationships writer is that I meet all types of people with all kinds of different perspectives; sometimes ones who totally challenge the status quo. Take the assumption about marriage, for instance (check out "Single-Minded: So, What If You Like Dating But DON'T Desire Marriage?"). What I mean specifically is the fact that a lot of people seem to believe that most women want to be married.
Hmm. First, did you know that the divorce rate is currently on the decline because less people are strolling down the aisle — and a good amount of those people are indeed women? Second, contrary to what some of these male relationship coaches are saying out here, the reason why many ladies aren't exactly thrilled about marriage isn't as black and white as they like to presume and promote. There are indeed many reasons why some women have cold feet at the mere thought of taking a stroll towards forever.
They deserve to speak for themselves. So, I asked 15 of them (middle names were used) to do just that. One, so that we'll stop seeing views on marriage as one-dimensional and two, because if you're a woman who is basically terrified of marriage yourself…you won't feel so alone. Because you absolutely aren't.
Jocelyn. 37. Haven't Been in a Relationship in Three Years.
"I come from a long line of people who didn't know what the hell they were doing when it came to marriage. While oddly, there is very little divorce on either side of my family, a lot of folks are together and totally miserable. It's like they would rather have the bragging rights of staying together than being happy."
"I think that's what scares me the most — getting with someone and staying, even if I don't like it. Is it really something to be proud of to stay until death if you're miserable?"
Hadassah. 29. Been Exclusive for 10 Months.
"My boyfriend wants to get married. He wants to marry me, more specifically. He said he knew it about three months ago. I'm the one who's been dragging my feet because people change. It's not fair to expect him not to but I want to be with the person I know now. If he switches up on me, I can't guarantee that I'll stick it out. I like consistency and hate surprises too much to sign up for that. I haven't told him any of this. Should I?"
Alexe. 40. Divorced for Five Years.
"Shellie, I know. I can't tell you how many times you saying that 70 percent of divorces are initiated by women rings in my head; especially since I was one of them. No, it wasn't because my husband abused me or cheated on me. He's still a good guy. I just like love with space in it. I don't want to share my house. I don't want to sleep on only one side of my bed. I don't want to deal with someone else when I don't feel like it. I'm selfish and I own that. I think it's more selfish to get married when you know you don't want to be what marriage requires. I talked myself into doing it the first time. How stupid of me would I be to do that all over again? No ma'am."
Kiran. 33. Been Casually Dating for Three Years.
"I'll watch a movie if I want to be moved by marriage. I dunno. It's just so serious…and predictable…and needy. Whenever this topic comes up with people, they assume I come from a broken or single-parent home or something. My parents have been together for almost 40 years and they love each other to death. I've just always been a free bird. Like I respect their relationship. I even like watching them. But do I want it? No thanks. I like getting to know different guys, learning from different people and not having any pressure or expectations on me. Marriage nixes all of that and the thought of intentionally signing up for that kind of lifestyle is worse than any horror flick I've seen before."
Alyssa. 42. In a Sexually Exclusive Situation.
"It might sound strange, but I have no problem with sexual monogamy. It's emotional monogamy that I struggle with. I want the option to be able to reach back out to an ex, flirt with someone on Instagram or go out on a date with a man I just met."
"A lot of times, when people talk about being scared to get married, the focus is on never having sex with someone new. There's too much going on out here for me to want to care about that. I just want the option to have new experiences with new men. Marriage prevents that from happening and yeah, that's pretty scary."
Rachele. 48. Divorced for 10 Years.
"Taking care of a man. That's what I did for seven years when I was married. I'm not talking about money. He made that. I mean, cleaning the bathroom. Cooking meals. Running errands all of the time. It wasn't that he expected me to do those things. I was raised that being a wife comes with taking care of a man. Once I no longer had to do that anymore, I can't imagine going back to that. Submission isn't a bad thing. You've just gotta really want to do it. I don't. I doubt I ever will."
Maya. 25. Interested in a Relationship — Not Marriage.
"I'm not sure how much of the minority I am but I think marriage should be for couples who want to have kids so that their children are in a structured environment — the kind that comes with some serious consequences if you just decide to up and walk out one day. Since I am fine being the 'play auntie' to all of my friends' kids, I want to be with someone who feels the same way about being an uncle and we just take it one day at a time.
"Signing on a dotted line feels like a contract that comes with some loopholes that I'm not interested in. Let's just love each other and leave it at that."
Imani. 34. Recently Ended a Two-Year Relationship.
"I just got out of a relationship with a mama's boy. Don't ever do that s — t. He's a good man. He also needs to cut those apron strings because when it comes to his money and his time, he thinks that his mother should get first dibs. Who wants to get married and be the second priority to a woman who has her own husband? I'm afraid that I'll get married and realize that I married a man's family more than him. Been there, done that. Hated it."
Natalie. 44. Been Exclusive for Six Years.
"I'm about to lose the love of my life, if I'm gonna be real about it. [Name withheld] has asked me to marry him twice now. I didn't say 'no'. I said that I would accept his ring if we could stay engaged indefinitely. What I'm scared of is marriage automatically changing our relationship like it has for so many of my friends. It's like, when they were dating, it was all good. Traveling. Lots of sex. Fun. Then they got married and it's watching movies at home, sex on the weekends and fighting all of the time. Why would any sane person choose to be miserable? I'm not saying it's marriage's fault. I'm just saying that a lot of people don't make marriage appear all that attractive to me."
Helen. 31. Divorced for Almost a Year.
"I cheated on my husband…with an ex. He was willing to stick it out, but I was so conflicted that I ended it. To this day, I'm not sure if I made the right decision or not but I'm pretty sure that you shouldn't get married if you're in love with two people. The crazy thing is, I don't want to be with my ex either because how can you trust someone who will help you cheat? I might not be the right person for this question because my divorce is still pretty fresh. What I will say is if you're not totally loving with your whole heart, you shouldn't get married. I've never just loved one person at a time. There's always been some 'residue' from someone else. I've just now accepted that as my reality. So, the thought of getting married again… 'terrified' is the right word."
Kendele. 28. In a Very New Relationship (Less than Three Months).
"Marriage is beautiful. Marriage is spiritual. Marriage is awesome. I'm just not sure if it's for me. It's like there's this assumption that all women want to be married and if they don't, they've got some sort of 'issue'."
"I'm not so much 'terrified' about the idea of marriage as I am reflective on if it serves a real purpose in my life. Can't you respect the institution without wanting to participate in it? I think so."
Lanelle. 39. Been Exclusive for Two Years.
"I'm afraid that my man's sex drive is gonna be too low. It damn near already is. Since college, I can easily have sex every day and in my 30s, that hasn't changed. So, if I sign up to only have sex with him for the rest of my life, that's already freaking me the f — k out. But then he's gonna not be in the mood when I want it? It might sound shallow, but I'll leave a man for that and never look back. Why take the risk? Why not just stay single?"
Perri. 27. Never Been in a Serious Relationship Before.
"How do you say at 25 that you'll stay with someone until you die when you don't know who you'll be at 40? What kind of arrangement is that?"
"The married people in my life tell me that I only feel this way because I've never been in a long-term relationship. Maybe. But predicting the future when you don't know what the future holds sounds pretty crazy in my book."
Brecala. 40. Recently Engaged.
"Yep. I'm engaged and yes, I am terrified of getting married. I think it's because I watch too many Lifetime movies because although my fiancé is the best man I've ever met, a part of me wonders how long you should really know someone before pledging to spend the rest of your life with them. Pray for us, y'all!"
Danyele. 36. Been Exclusive for Five Years.
"Losing my man. Losing him is what terrifies me. I'm not talking about to another woman or even getting a divorce. I'm talking about death. I love my man so much that I think I've been holding off on the marriage thing because that means I'm all in and if he beat me to the punch [died first], I have no idea how I would take that. For me, staying dating is kind of like a wall to protect myself. I know some widows and losing their husbands close to destroyed them. Death is inevitable but I'm still not sure I want to take that risk."
Like I said, marriage — and the hesitations about marriage — are vast. Hopefully, this confirmed that, gave you some things to think about and maybe will even give you the "push" to share some of your own insights in the comments. Marriage is beautiful. It's also OK to have some real concerns or not want to do it. It really is.
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