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“He’s proposed ten times…so why do I keep saying NO!”: LINDA KELSEY

The first time he proposed, I gently let him down. “I’m really touched that you asked,” I replied, “and I love you, but I just can’t do that wedding again.”

By the time he asked the question for the tenth (or was it the 15th?) time, I was a little more brusque. “Thanks, but no thanks,” came my firm reply, waving his question away with a wave of the hand and a quick change of subject.

My partner Ron and I have been happily single since we met 13 years ago, when we were both in our mid-50s. And while I hope the ‘happy’ part of our relationship will continue, I’m sure our ‘single’ condition will remain the same until death (or something else) do us part.

That’s why, when fashion entrepreneur Karen Millen, 60, announced last week that despite being with her partner Ben Charnaud for ten years, she wasn’t getting married, I thought, now there’s a woman after my own heart. “He wanted to marry me, but he’s resigned to the fact that I’m not the marrying type,” Millen said in an interview.

Linda Kelsey, who has been happily unmarried with her partner Ron (pictured) since they met 13 years ago, explained why she believes she fits the 'non-marrying type'

Linda Kelsey, who has been happily unmarried with her partner Ron (pictured) since they met 13 years ago, explained why she believes she fits the ‘non-marrying type’

Despite being married twice before, I think I fit the non-marrying type as well. When my sister, who has been happily married for 50 years, first heard that Ron had proposed to me, she stated, “You just don’t do it. You’re good at being a friend, you’re useless as a wife.’

Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, but she’s right that I’ve never felt comfortable with the concept of marriage. After all, the statistics show that 45 percent of first marriages end in divorce and almost one in three second marriages also hit the buffers.

Historically, women married for money because they had few options other than being financially supported by a man. In today’s climate, where women are becoming more and more economically independent, I would say that money is a very good reason not to get married, especially later in life.

When my second marriage broke up, we split our possessions (which was essentially the house we shared) 50/50. Fair enough, but after paying off a mortgage during our marriage, I had to buy another one to fund a house after the split. If I divorced Ron I would like it to be a clean financial break – what is his property to stay with him, what is mine to stay with me – so that when I die what is left after the death duties go straight goes to my son. As of now, we live in the same house, but it’s one I own. Ron, an osteopath, has a flat that he rents out. We only share the costs. Marriage complicates all that.

As a former editor of Cosmopolitan, women’s empowerment – ​​including financial empowerment – ​​has always been important to me. I was only 19 when I first married – to a man nine years older than me. In 1971, it was the only way I could respectfully leave my conservative suburban home. I dreamed of independence and naively thought that the label of marriage would give me freedom. In fact, it was more a matter of having my wings clipped by a man who was completely wrong for me. So it was a relief, in my mid-twenties, to take off my wedding ring and start over.

Linda said she doesn't understand why marriage makes a difference unless you feel a religious necessity.  Pictured: Linda and second husband Christian, with son Thomas

Linda said she doesn't understand why marriage makes a difference unless you feel a religious necessity.  Pictured: Linda and second husband Christian, with son Thomas

Linda said she doesn’t understand why marriage makes a difference unless you feel a religious necessity. Pictured: Linda and second husband Christian, with son Thomas

By the time I was in my early thirties and met the man who became the father of our son, marriage was far from our thoughts. We talked about being in a relationship around the time Thomas was born, but with so many other things going on in our lives, we never got around to doing anything about it. As a feminist, Gloria Steinem’s famous statement, “I can’t mate in captivity,” played through my mind over and over. I was a devoted lady, not a bound lady. My first marriage had felt oppressive, and the status quo of living together the second time suited us both just fine.

But then, in 1999, 15 years after our relationship, we did a volte-face. After a major depressive illness and some corporate disasters, we needed a pick-me-up. We wanted to celebrate our successful passage through the darkest times and a wedding seemed like a good idea. In retrospect, this was not the case, because the cracks that had formed during those difficult years were already beginning to show.

Eight years later, our marriage was over. While I have no doubts that a stable, loving relationship provides the best environment to raise children, unless you feel a religious necessity, I really don’t understand why marriage makes a difference.

Marriage is by no means a guarantee of loyalty, longevity, fidelity, or loitering in both sickness and health.

Linda (pictured) said Ron doesn't feel insecure and that they are romantically in sync, making them married in most intentions and purposes

Linda (pictured) said Ron doesn't feel insecure and that they are romantically in sync, making them married in most intentions and purposes

Linda (pictured) said Ron doesn’t feel insecure and that they are romantically in sync, making them married in most intentions and purposes

My partner Ron is cherished and I show my love for him in countless ways. I’m also mature enough to be a pragmatist rather than a romantic, and I don’t feel like there’s anything inherently distasteful about discussing money matters in an open and honest way.

When I asked Ron why he wanted to marry me, he didn’t even mention the word love, although I know without a doubt that he does love me. What he did say was that for several years after we met, things felt a little hesitant – he felt a little insecure. He felt that marriage would strengthen us.

Ron no longer feels insecure and now we are romantically in sync. For most purposes we are married. I am “step-grandmother” to Ron’s grandson and would be willing to take in one of his 30 year old daughters if the need arose. He is close to my son and my family has embraced him.

“I commit to someone and that’s it — I don’t have to prove it,” Karen Millen said of her decade-long relationship. Exactly my feelings.

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