“Why Aren’t You Married?”

**warning:  this is a long one, read it when you have some time.**

This entry is for La La Grey Bouvier

At the most basic level, the “Why Aren’t You Married?” question makes sense.  Although extremely off putting, the question is the most immediate way for a man to communicate to a woman that he’s extremely curious as to why a beautiful woman is still on the market.  Once you drill down to the intention, one might see how a man could think it’s a complimentary question…but alas, it’s not that simple. 

We are all aware, that past a certain age (my goodness, I’m not sure what that age is), being on the market comes with certain life experiences that could have led you there…perhaps you’ve been married before and are currently single, perhaps you have children and don’t have time for a relationship at the moment, perhaps you’re career focused and haven’t made the time…or perhaps, you’re crazy – which I think some men are trying to deduce from that initial question Why Aren’t You Married?  It’s as if some men think that by asking the question they will be able to weed out the less desirable’s right there.  Do they imagine a woman saying, “I’m not married because I’m crazy”?

If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably lived long enough to know that most crazy women AND men are at least savvy enough to not admit to their craziness when prompted.  Unfortunately, most times you don’t know someone is crazy until they’re in stocking feet and adult garanimals banging on your front door.

But I digress.  

I was compelled to write this post for two reasons 1) a girlfriend of mine specifically requested that I confront the Why Aren’t You Married? question 2)  I’ve been asked Why Aren’t You Married? several times, and each time I’ve had a visceral reaction to it that I haven’t quite been able to articulate, so here goes…

The problem with posing a question in the following way “Why Aren’t You (fill in the blank)?” is that it immediately implies that you’ve not done something that you should have already done…watch this:

• Why aren’t you on your way to the restaurant?
Implying:  You should be here by now, because I got here on time.

• Why aren’t you ready to go?
Implying:  You should be ready, we said we were leaving at 5.

Go back and look at the questions above – both of them are accusatory and would inspire a testy exchange or an argument of sorts (I’m not there because I’m in traffic, calm down!!; I’m not ready to go because the day got crazy and I got a late start, what gives!!).  So, it stands to reason that the question Why Aren’t You Married? might inspire the same type of response. 

The question implies that one should be married, even if that’s not the questioner’s intent.  Because we are adults, we cannot pretend that we do not have to consider the implications of the questions that we ask.  Implying that someone is not where they should be (unless they are your child) in most cases is inappropriate.  And, implying that someone is not where they should be when it comes to relationships and matters of the heart is even more inappropriate. 

DS Download:  When it comes to love, who is to say where someone should be?  In this lifetime, everyone is on their own path and although it’s tempting, we all have to resist the urge to rate our lives according to someone else’s.

I think it’s important for all non single people to know that single people are 100% aware of the natural progression of things.  We understand that in pretty much every culture, children are ideally raised to go out in the world, make a way, find a partner, and settle down with the person that inspires them.  Most single people are still in search of that inspiration, and would not like to be reminded that to date, that inspiration has eluded them.     

Many of us were raised with the following adage – it’s not what you say, but how you say it – and I definitely think that saying is applicable to this discussion.  The curiosity behind the question Why Aren’t You Married? is definitely okay, we’re supposed to ask the right questions and get to know each other; it’s the wording of the question that is not okay.

To my un-married/single brethren, the next time you get asked the question forward him this post (shameless self promotion), 9 times out of 10 he has NO idea that the question is off putting.  I would also re-iterate that the intention behind the question is just to get to know you better – it’s just a lazy shortcut.  Similar to men, that see you on the street and randomly order you to “smile” – they’re just looking for something, ANYTHING, to say to you.

Lastly, if you’re sitting at a bar, having a conversation with a man whose company you are enjoying and you feel that he’s about to go that route (wondering why you’re single, what your deal is etc) don’t get to bent out of shape.  If you like the gentleman, be proactive and offer up some information (yes/no I have or haven’t been married; I’m single because I haven’t found the right one; I am crazy etc), it’s natural that he wants to know more about you. 

After you’ve proactively shared information about your relationship background, switch the conversation to him and use that as an opportunity to learn about his background and why he is single….when he reluctantly replies that he’s not single, and that he chooses not to wear his wedding ring because he doesn’t like jewelry, feel free to politely walk away or slap him in the face – whichever emotion you feel first!

Good luck out there.

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One thought on ““Why Aren’t You Married?”

  1. Fair enough, Christina. I would agree. It’s all in how you phrase the question. And I think you might be right on point with one thought.

    When a man inquires why a woman isn’t married it isn’t necessarily a compliment? It is true that often is it the case that when a man explores into the the reasons behind a woman’s maritial status he does so out of genuine interest. However, this is not always the case, ladies. The intent is not always to investigate why whoever the last moron you were with didn’t have the sense to want to spend the rest of his life with you. Some men already have it cemented in their minds that if a woman is still single that there must be an unattractive reason for it. Some men – not all, or even neccessarily most – have already deduced that if fox like you isn’t married by now it could very well be because you have issues. “Maybe she’s crazy. You know, like those AKA chicks.”

    JUST KIDDING! JUST KIDDING! The pink & green are still the finest of em’ all ; )

    Seriously, though. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m no savant when it comes to women. However, I would argue that there are, indeed, far more effective ways of generating the conversation without asking her like a cop hastling a highschool frehman about why she’s not at school at 11:30 on a Wednesday morning.

    The way J.W. explores the issue is by offering her a plate of compliments first. Then I pose the question as though I’m completely confounded at how such a sterling lark of a woman could still be available. For example, “Jane, from what I can gather about you thus far, you seem like such an X, Y and Z of woman. I’m sure there are a great many outstanding men who’d love to share their lives with you. I (being one of the outstanding men) certainly am impressed. And yet you’re a single woman. If you don’t mind my asking, what are waiting for?”

    Ok, so maybe I might not be quite THAT suave. But I’m usually in the neighborhood, probably even on the same block. It puts all the power in her hands and gives her the opportunity to explain – if she chooses to, which she likely will if approached that way – why she’s unmarried from the perspective of a woman who’s gone unappreciated to that point her life. It also presumes to give her the benefit of the doubt of NOT being crazy.

    What are your thoughts on this brand of approach, ladies? Help us guys out a little…

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