On multiple occasions, both Oprah and Shonda Rhimes have spoken about their aversion to marriage so when the two got together for an OWN Super Soul Sunday special, it only made sense that they’d bond over that commonality.
Rhimes, who finds it “freeing” to be a 45-year-old woman saying no thanks to walking down the aisle, explained the lack of desire to become anyone’s Mrs., saying:
“I’m one of those people, since I was 5, I could tell you I was going to have kids. I could tell you I was going to have three. I could tell you they were going to be girls. But I have never wanted to get married. I never played bride. I was never interested. I don’t know what it is; I never wanted to get married.
“I love having boyfriends. I love dating. I do not want a husband in my house.”
Oprah has a bit of a different tale. She told Shonda:
“I don’t know if I’ve ever said this publicly, but I really wanted to be wanted to be married. I wanted Stedman to want to marry me. The moment he asked me to marry him I was, like… ‘Now I actually have to get married?’
“I was supposed to do a book at the same time … and the wedding and the book were happening around the same time. We were on our way from the book party and Stedman said he did not want to have his wedding disturbed by all these people asking me about the book (which I ended up not doing),” Oprah says. “I said, ‘OK. All right. So he said, ‘We should just postpone this wedding. I said, ‘OK.’ And that was it. We have never discussed it again.”
“What I realized is, I don’t want to be married because I could not have the life that I created for myself … I knew that I couldn’t do it.”
Shonda seems to feel the same, adding:
“I have so much going on inside my head in terms of writing, there’s such a large space in my life taken up by that. I can’t imagine it being taken up by a husband and children and writing, and everything getting its due. I don’t believe there is room for all of it. I really don’t.”
Shonda’s position I get. She likes boyfriends, she likes dating, she likes running her house and children and not having to answer to or cater to anyone else’s needs unless they’re on payroll or under the age of 18. But Oprah’s stance strikes me as a bit different because she’s been with the same man since ’86. Perhaps it’s the idea that monogamy is always presented as the most important aspect of marriage when what these women are saying is the issue isn’t being tied to one person, it’s being tied down by someone else.
Still, I’m curious what these women’s day-t0-day lives look like with their long-term partners. I imagine separate living quarters helps keep that line between partner and husband quite clear, but do they check in every day? Do they set times to meet, travel, and do things as a unit, and is each party not expected to follow through on the commitments they make to one another on a regular basis? I imagine not having to have dinner ready for your husband every night when he gets home from work is a freeing thing if you still believe in the image of a ’50s housewife, but I also think after 29-plus years together, pulling an “I’m not your wife” or “I’m not your husband” card isn’t going to fly when one partner’s accountability or commitment is questioned.
I love what Oprah and Stedman have, I’m just trying to figure out how much different having a life partner is from a husband — financial and legal ties withstanding — that makes her say she knows she couldn’t have the life she currently has if she had the latter, while her life is seemingly enriched by the former. What do you think?