Marriage Isn’t for Everyone

Just because I chose marriage doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone. Sometimes I think we as a culture should offer more grace and kindness to those who are not coupled up. Many of the readers here are unmarried. Some of you are engaged, or dating, or even single.

Two prominent CNN articles that have been bouncing around the internet only underscore my desire to spread more compassion.  If you haven’t read them, you should. First, they’re entertaining. Second, they’re thought-provoking.

The first writer, Tracy McMillia, wrote a scathing critique called Why You’re Not Married. Her blunt explanations may cover the reasons some of your unmarried friends are not wed, but they would be offensive to most of them. The seven possible reasons she gives for a woman who wants to be married and isn’t include: She’s a bitch, shallow, a slut, a liar, selfish, or she thinks she’s not good enough. Wow, tell us what you really think. It should be noted that she has had three failed marriages, but was “born knowing how to get married.”

CNN’s Jessica Ravitz (pictured above) countered with an extremely graceful and well-written response, Why I’m Not Married (and it’s not because I’m an angry slut). In short, she says dealing with two parental divorces, the sudden death of her father, and calling off her engagement when she had serious doubts doesn’t make her a complete loser. And it doesn’t make her unhappy. It just means life got in the way of her finding her guy at the right moment. Single people can be happier than those in relationships, especially when those relationships are troubled.

Some people who really would like to get married simply haven’t met someone they want to spend their life with. Others would simply choose not to take on the commitment of marriage. I think it’s wiser than marrying without having a strong commitment, particularly when children are involved.

I remain a strong marriage advocate, and I believe children do best when they grow up with two married parents. But I also think we as a society need to be more respectful and compassionate to others who don’t make the same choices at the same life stage as we do. If we treat single people as incomplete, always trying to match them up, it demeans them as a person. Celebrate and lift up your single and married friends.

What’s your take on the issue? Are you looking to marry but haven’t found “the one” (that’s a whole new post)? Or is marriage not the right choice for you right now? If you’re happily married, how do you treat the single people around you?

Photo credit: Robert Johnson/CNN

10 responses to “Marriage Isn’t for Everyone

  1. The divorce rates certainly prove that marriage isn’t for everyone! Joking aside though, it really isn’t and I personally believe too many people jump into it when they are not yet ready. And I don’t just mean they haven’t found the right person, or are too young and all that stuff. I mean they just aren’t ready to share their life with someone else for years.

    Marriage is hard work. of that there is no doubt. Ideally, a couple should sit down and talk about what their expectations of each other and the marriage are before they head to the church and say “I do”. Can you remain faithful? Do you want kids? How are things going to work financially? And so on and so on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being in a long term relationship and deciding marriage just isn’t for you – like you say, it isn’t for everyone. If more people realized that, I bet those divorce rates wouldn’t quite look so bad! A very interesting read, thank you.

    • Yes maybe you’re right that the divorce rates would be better if people felt they had options. Thanks for chiming in.

  2. thank you for your post, as a divorced, single woman about to turn 50 it is nice to be reminded that there are many reasons for not being married other than I am a defective female. I have been kind of feeling that way, at least I have been asking myself what’s so wrong with me that I can’t find the right guy? Really, there is nothing wrong with me I think I make quite a catch for someone who can handle strong, powerful independent women.

    Thank you for the reminder that circumstances often play a role in the marriage game.


  3. Roger Griswold

    I agree that marriage is a great institution and children with two parents probably have better odds at success than those with one parent. I also agree that marriage is not for everyone and there are some single people who are happier than many married couples. I also believe that there are many children from single parent families that are quite successful. (How you define success is an entirely different topic!)
    As a side note, and this could very well be another topic, but I feel that couples without kids many times are looked at as “defective” (great word to describe it, Ivonne.) Being married for 16 years and not having kids, we can relate to that “odd ball” feeling, but we say “to each his/her own”. We are very happy!

    • Good point. Couples without children, by choice or by necessity, should also be treated with the same grace and not looked down upon. I think the basic message is to respect others and not assume they are faulty because they didn’t make the same choices we did. Being happily married for 16 years brings enough joy to compensate for the harsh looks from outsiders. Kudos to you for that.

  4. I love pieces that normalize the fact that “marriage isn’t for everyone.” Yes, I’m happily married – and yes, I’m a couples therapist who enjoys helping people find their connections. But marriage simply isn’t the “be all end all” for all of us. I have friends and individual therapy clients who are testimonials to this. The notion that woman are somehow “defective” if they’re not married is simply rediculous, especially in this day and age.

    Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT
    The Toolbox at

  5. Yes I am happily married and we devote our lives to helping marriages grow stronger. However we have many single friends in our church with whom we value and respect. Marriage doesn’t validate character or worth any more than singleness validates flaws. The question to ask is, “Am I content with the boundary lines God has set for me right here and now?” if we aren’t then our issue is far greater than how others view my lot – it is with God who is leading me on the path He has chosen.

    Kudos Lori for another interesting and thought provoking post! I’ve always said it’s much better to be unhappily single than unhappily married.


  6. Debi, that last line is so true. Thanks for reading and for commenting. I appreciate your input. Best,

  7. Pingback: How Does a Married Person Think About Singleness? — Project M

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