“Mom, I am a rich man,” replied pop icon Cher, when her mother suggested she should settle down and marry a rich man. I’ve rewatched Cher’s interview in which she shares this anecdote many times. It resonates with me, although I can’t say the same for myself.

I’m certainly not a rich man, and, “Mom, I’m a starving artist,” doesn’t have the same defiant ring to it. But, money isn’t the only thing that buys you freedom, and there are many reasons that marriage is not a priority of mine.

1. “Mom, I’m a child of divorce.” 

This is my primary reason. Watching a marriage crumble from the inside is not alluring.

It’s difficult to watch two people who, presumed to love each other, appear to hate each other for more than a decade and then part ways. What worries me is the “forever and always” nature of marriage.

As many girls do, I grew up reading fairytales, and yearning for happily ever afters. And although I believe many people have happy marriages, I’ve learned that “happily ever after” is a myth.

Fairytales end at the start of a relationship. They chronicle two people falling in love, and end as they have their first kiss or get married.

They seldom show the nitty-gritty of the relationships they represent. The disintegration of my parents’ marriage shattered this illusion for me at a fairly young age.

Since then, I’ve never really placed much importance on getting married or finding somebody to marry.

2. “Mom, I’m young and my career is my focus.”

In my early twenties, I dated a boy who stifled me.

I’ve since described the experience as, “dating a handbrake.”

Once he was out of my life I excelled – my grades went up, I ran my first half marathon, my freelance career took off. I recently rewatched The Devil Wears Prada – a classic in my eyes. Shocked by how Andy, played by Anne Hathaway, has friends who guilt-trip her for prioritizing her career over her boyfriend.

When I first watched it as a teenager, I remember thinking that Andy was selfish for putting her work before her boyfriend. The narrative is often skewed to make us feel this way. In this common film trope, women become villains for putting their work first, whereas men are often glorified for the same thing.

While striking a balance between one’s personal life and work life is important, I don’t ever want to feel held back by another “handbrake” relationship.

3. “Mom, I’m a feminist.”

Don’t get me wrong – there is an overlap of people who love marriage and people who identify as feminists. There are many marriages that are equal partnerships, and if I ever do get married, mine would be that way. But, the idea of marriage, as well as the values upheld by marriage originated from patriarchal value systems.

I don’t like the idea of being “given away” by a man to another man, as if I were ever anybody’s property.

At wedding receptions, typically, only men speak, while the bride is silent. The bride sits, looking beautiful, wearing white – white, of course, being the color of purity. What I will look like on my wedding day is the least exciting thing about me. 

Wearing white as a marker of my purity speaks to a time I’m glad I was not born into.

4. “Mom, if it happens, it happens.”

Perhaps, someday I’ll meet somebody who makes me so happy that I push these reasons aside.

That would be a welcome surprise.

But until then, marriage won’t be a priority of mine, and my life will continue to be full, and exciting regardless.

  • Ellen Heydenrych

    Ellen Heydenrych is a multihyphenate writer-illustrator-graphic designer with a Master of Arts from Rhodes University. Ellen loves spending time honing her various crafts. She currently works as a graphic designer at a creative agency in South Africa, freelances as an illustrator in her free time, and moonlights as the Love & Health Junior Editor at The Tempest.