I didn’t set out to be 32 and not married.
At 16, I’d pictured my adult self in a happy marriage, happily raising kids. I’d pictured myself holding hands with the man of my dreams, running out of a church, straight into a lifetime of love and romance.
I grew up in the Baptist church, pretending sex didn’t exist. Then I got pregnant during Bible college, where I took classes like Women’s Ministry and studied psychology from a biblical worldview.
I got pregnant out of wedlock. So, what actually happened fell quite short of that picture.
I rushed into marriage to my first husband at 21, just before our first kid was born, obsessed with what people might think if my daughter and I didn’t have the same last name. We were married at my parents’ church in front of only them, my sister and the pastor who, in his defense, subtly tried to talk us out of it.
A very un-pastor thing to do — even he saw the damage in rushing into a marriage simply because of a child.
Fast forward a few years, and another child, and that marriage fell through. We tried and tried and couldn’t make it work and after years of finger-pointing, he found his way into the arms of an old friend and the two of them are happily married to this day.
I did not go that route.
After my first marriage ended, I eventually settled into myself, happy to be alone. I decided never again to marry, to be content with my family being the three of us — my kids and me — no longer caring what people thought when they found out my kids’ last name was Eagle and mine was Logan. I was going to be on my own.
And then came Randy.
We’d started out as best friends, actively choosing not to date, his plan being to head back to Arizona with his family. Then one fateful morning, when I texted him and told him I was moving to my home town of Kings Mountain, he called and told me he wanted to go with me.
Eventually, we admitted we were in love. Our friendship turned out to be the best foundation we could have possibly built. We’d chosen to love each other as people as opposed to romantic partners, allowing our relationship to grow organically from there.
And then, one year in, Randy and I found out we were going to have a baby. Like last time, I felt the urge to tie the knot.
Both our midwife and a good friend had offered to perform a ceremony for us before the baby got here. You know, so we could all have the same name. But it never felt right.
I stopped letting a different last name be a moniker for failure.
We finally came to a clear understanding: marriage was not for us. We chose to commit ourselves to one another without a legally binding document to hold us together through the good and bad. We were together for us.
In my previous life, I’d worried so much over what others might think of me with the stigma of “unwed mother”.
Now, I feel powerful.
I am unmarried because I don’t feel a need to be bound by societal standards. I’ve read enough YouTube comments to know that everyone will come out of the woodwork to try to talk me out this, pray for me, or tell me any number of things about my character, but my choice not to marry does not mean I don’t believe in marriage. I do. Just not for myself.
Right at a time when I thought I’d be alone forever with my two kids (and happily so), Randy walked into the bar I was working at, sat down, and hasn’t left my life since. Just because we don’t have papers filed at the courthouse or rings on our left hands (we wear them on our right) doesn’t mean either of us are going to go running out the door.
If we were going to do that, we would have done it a long time ago, papers or not. Trust me. We’re here because we want to be.
In this life, everyone is entitled to writing their own love story. This one is ours.
Photo: Liz Logan