Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why Aren't You Married?

Obviously, these people are not deviants. 
This is one of the many stupefying comments we spinstas hear with regularity about our lifestyles.  The question nearly always implies that we have done something “wrong” which has caused us to not be married.  (Apparently marriage is the result of doing things “right.”)  The implication is that marriage is the standard and any deviation from it must involve deviance and/or deviants. Somehow, we spinstas are expected to have a pat explanation for our single state.

After years and years of hearing this question and trying to find an answer that would make sense to the questioner without going into a big essay on the socio-cultural and personal influences on my marital status, I think I have finally generated a good answer to this question:

Why are you married? 

Really, I am interested.  What was the series of events that led to your being a married person?  Because the answer to why I am not married is simply that that very series of events that led to marriage for you didn’t happen to me.  I did not meet someone in kindergarten who has loved me ever since we were 5. (I don’t actually know anyone from kindergarten since we moved when I was in second grade.)

I didn’t meet anyone in high school or college either. On the latter point, I would like to state that there are many, many, many people with whom I went to a woman-centered/centered-woman’s (tm) college who did meet someone to marry.  They even have an alumni group just for the women who married men from the guys’ college down the road. So for those who claim I should have expected spinsta-hood since I went to a women’s college, I would like to point out that the vast majority of my classmates have MRS degrees.

I haven’t met anyone at work to marry either.  Or at any of the activities, classes and clubs I have participated in.  No friends or relatives have set me up with someone they think would be a good partner for me.  (Which is how my parents met) I have been to numerous weddings and funerals too.  Nothing. No one.
Et tu Padre?

I even know of a couple who met when he was the rector of a seminary and she was a nun who worked there.  You would hardly expect a seminary to be the place for people to find their life partner, would you?  Especially with that emphasis on celibacy that is so big there.

I have friends in wonderful partnerships and marriages that came after they accepted that they are gay.   It took them a while to get there—dating and even marrying people of a sex they weren’t particularly attracted to.  That didn’t happen to me either. Women don’t smell good to me the way men do.

It wasn’t for lack of trying either. Just how much effort did you put into finding someone?  Or were you just living your life and there they were?  For me, there was no one at singles groups and no one on line.  eHarmony promised someone for everyone, but they had no one for me. When I complained, they told me to change some of my answers—specifically the ones about whether I wanted children and what my religious beliefs are.

This is a crepe pan. See? No lid. Not even possible.
That didn’t make sense to me considering how important those two particular issues are to me and in most relationships.  It was then that I formulated the idea that while there may be a lid for every pot, some of us are crepe pans.  There are no lids for crepe pans.

For a while, I was explaining my spinstahood that way: I am a crepe pan. 

I sometimes like to imagine that the grandfather of a man I might have married died during WW I and never had kids—who never had the grandkid who would have been my husband.  My spinstahood began some time in the late 19-teens on Flanders fields.
Flanders Field where poppies grow, but not my husband's grandfathers.

But the truth is, I am a spinsta because that series of events that led to your being a married person did not happen in my life.  I guarantee you that is the very reason every other unmarried person is unmarried as well. So you can stop asking.  Now you know.

Everyone loves a love story.  It's hard to make non-love a story. Much less a story everyone would love. How do you come up with a recognizable narrative? A through-line of action in the inaction? 

In the meantime, I am asking. Why are you married? Did something happen in your life that I could have replicated in my life so it would have happened for me too?