As a sixtyyearssomething heterosexual woman, I never married, consciously choosing to stay single without succumbing to the sad, spinster stereotype. Despite receiving three marriage proposals, albeit in my twenties, two a repetitious encore from the same man, (I wasn’t a complete freak!) I confronted neither man offered happy ever after, questions already answered without premeditated awareness.

The fairytale gospel bypassed me, Prince Charming elusive, but then, I was no pretty princess who dropped her glass slipper hoping some handsome hunk would fit it on my dainty foot. Moreover, Cinderella was dismissed as futile fantasy, abandoned as an adult favouring a real man instead, with all his faults, frailties and foibles as a human being.

Disappointingly perhaps, I never encountered a man able to admit or acknowledge his human imperfections; indeed, I wasn’t allowed mine either. Being perfect was the catchcry of modern homo sapiens, aka a Stepford wife attending to his desires without complaint or conjecture, compromise an alien concept. Washing his smelly socks, ironing his wrinkled shirts and adoring his irresistible appeal were testimony of love conquers all.

Support was not particularly on my agenda; what was really significant was respect, a reciprocal respect embracing my intelligence, individuality and integrity, intrinsic to my emotional, intellectual, sexual and spiritual well-being.

In relationships with diverse men since my twenties, marriage was never mentioned as I appreciated life as an independent woman making my own choices about life’s challenges and conflicts as they evolved in my environs.

Certainly, there were pertinent issues about having some men as a ‘partner’ even without marriage, but these clarified over the months I knew them, specific questions subsumed as superfluous . Having my own unspoken criteria, similar to current online dating sites, the men I met pre-internet seemed unable to accept a woman on her own determined to pursue her needs and desires without expecting reward for his compliance. There seemed a price to barter, an implicit exchange as if relationships were a business arrangement, sealed with a professional, legal contract rather than a recognition that mutual enjoyment of each other over time could suffice for conjugal compatibility. Just tick the right boxes and sign on the dotted line!

Fortunately, I derive joy in my own company, also getting by with a little help from a few good friends mostly male ironically, a motley mix of the married, divorced and gay, as we share love and mutual interests in each others’ company. Furthermore, during my life I also met many married men, often on a circuit of recycled marriage who suggested sex, not that it was surprising considering the millions of hits on the Ashley Maddison website; lust lost somewhere between the bed sheets. Maybe marriage per se should be the focus of the most important question: why marry at all?

In this 21st century, children are happily born out of wedlock to increasing numbers of single women without the bastard stigma (that’s oft reserved for the women’s previous beaus), couples blissfully co-habit without a diamond ring and saying “I do” no longer symbolises social status and approval. Both single women and men can now live more comfortably in economic security with marriage not considered a passport to permanent pleasure; no stamp for ever-lasting happiness in that terrain. Personally, my single life is a blessing.