How Do You Feel About Marriage?

“While marriage probably isn’t something I’m going to pursue anymore, I still really like the idea of having a shower the size of a small room.”

After mentioning this in a recent blog post, a few people asked about my thoughts on marriage. I’m happy to share.

Let’s start with a brief chronological rundown of my relationship history:

  • I went to college assuming I would find my future wife there (that’s how my parents met). I dated on and off, but nothing stuck.
  • In my mid-20s, I had a 3-year relationship with a woman. We lived together for a little over half of that time. We talked about marriage, but it just didn’t work out.
  • In my late-20s, I had a 1-year long-distance relationship with a woman who had already been engaged and was ready to get married. I didn’t end up sharing her feelings.
  • For the next 2 years, I dated a LOT via online dating. Lots of first dates, but also quite a few mini-relationships.

That leads me up to 2012, which coincides with the creation of Stonemaier Games. At the time I still romanticized the idea of finding the right woman and getting married, but the more I immersed myself into the company, the less interest I had in dating. I view dating as a precursor to marriage, so the less I dated, the less I thought about marriage.

I didn’t even realize it was happening, but I’ve had a few moments of self-examination and introspection. What I’ve concluded is that while I’m still open to the idea of marriage, it simply may not be a good fit for me.

I have a lot of respect for people who pursue, commit to, and make a life with a permanent partner, but for me, I really like my life the way it is. Even if I suddenly had a ton of free time instead of working 80-hour weeks, I don’t think I’d want to spend a significant amount of time with one other person.

I love romance, flirtation, and affection. I like taking care of other people in little doses. And I worry a little bit about growing old and not having someone to take care of me if I ever need it. But for me, all of that doesn’t add up to a huge impetus to pursue marriage.

Please keep in mind that this is a very personal perspective–this is about me, not you. I’d like to hear your personal perspective to marriage (or any long-term, committed partnership) in the comments if you’re open to sharing.


30 Responses to “How Do You Feel About Marriage?”

  1. Carole says:

    Oh, Jamey… we’ll take care of you when you’re old. I mean… I’m older than you, but still… don’t worry about that. <3

    • T-Mac says:

      Hey Jaam- I echo Carole’s sentiments! My immediate thought upon reading this blog was that you’re always welcome at my home and I’d gladly help you if you need it when you’re old.

      • Jamey Stegmaier says:

        Carole and Trev: Thank you for assuring me of this! Hopefully it won’t be necessary (and I’ll find a great old-folks home when the time comes), but it’s good to know. 🙂

  2. Ray B says:

    In 12 days I’ll be celebrating my 14th Wedding Anniversary (and 21st Anniversary overall with my wife). It’s been great even with the rough times. That said, I know the vast majority of friends my age fall into two categories– they got married super early and are borderline miserable or already divorced OR they seem to have settled on permanent or at least long term single life.

    I think being single is more acceptable these days. I see no reason for anyone to push the issue or feel pressured if they’re happy. Seems silly.

  3. Candy Mercer says:

    I think it takes a lot of courage of self examination to come to that point, and also question society’s assumptions for what you should do or be. And to then not feel bad about your choices. I applaud you for following your dream wherever it takes you. And you sure have lots of friends, and your family that you have created with your company. That is a lot.

  4. I made a comment on one of your Stonemaier blog posts asking if you had anyone in your life to thank for supporting you along your Kickstarter journeys. I was surprised to hear that you didn’t have a significant other.

    In particular I have a wife and a 1 year old son. Nothing makes you value your time quite like having a baby. It’s both a blessing and a “curse”. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I can’t help but think about how life might be different if I were single. There are a lot of projects and dreams that are now difficult or impractical to pursue due to my new responsibilities.

    Marriage and family isn’t for everyone, but there’s also a significant timing component as well. A relationship shouldn’t be something you seek out because you’re expected to or because the clock is ticking. If you find yourself emotionally fulfilled and supported then I don’t think you need to seek out marriage. I think that if/when that time comes, it will happen naturally. Later in life it may be more difficult, but that’s better than forcing it prematurely.

  5. Mohammed says:

    Ive been happily married for 11 years now and I believe the key is realizing that not everything you do in life has to be about the both of you. I encourage activities that you can do together (such as board games) but its just as important that each of us has his own friends, hobbies and interests that can be an escape. If you think of marriage as living with the same person all your life it seems daunting. Maybe its different in western cultures, but the more time each person has for himself the healthier the relationship ( to a certain extent of course!) In the end though, each person has differnet lifestyles so dont feel like you have to follow the norms.

  6. Jason E says:

    I started dating my wife in high school. This May we will have been married 25 years, and together over 30. We were friends that bloomed into more. The part I like the most is that I get to share my life with someone who gets me. It is also great to have someone to share the adventures with. I love building a life with a partner, which has included a couple of long term projects, namely our sons.
    Having said that, I am glad that you have thought about it and are OK with where you are now. My only advice would be to not close your heart to love. That might mean new long-term platonic friendships, all the way up to finding one person that you really click with, when you weren’t even looking, who gets you.

  7. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    Thank you all for sharing your different perspectives! It’s really interesting to read your stories.

  8. dmvp says:

    This June will be my husband’s and my 31st anniversary! Believe me, it’s not always an easy road…and even more so with children in the mix, BUT when the times get hard I can’t imagine going it alone. We are one of the success stories of young love. Met when I was 15 and he was 18, married when I was 18 and he was 21. Went to college together and then started a family. I agree with others that have said there’s no pressure. I do believe that marriage isn’t for everyone. I just hope you find peace and happiness no matter where your path leads you. 🙂

  9. Katie says:

    A lot of how I feel about relationships and marriage is reflected in this post, which was nice to see – sometimes I feel like everyone thinks I’m crazy! My situation is slightly different from yours (divorced with a child), but it’s similar in a lot of ways. I did a little bit of dating several years ago and eventually had one or two mini-relationships. But with those, I felt anxious after only a few months and just wanted to be alone. I thought that meant maybe I just wasn’t ready for a relationship yet, but it’s been almost 5 years since then and I’m really happy with my life! I’m busy with my career and my daughter, and what free time I have I don’t want to share. I need that time to rest, recharge, and do the things that are important to me. I rarely feel lonely, and I know so many people that are in miserable marriages that it’s lost some of its appeal anyway. I wouldn’t necessarily turn anyone away if I were interested in them, but my lifestyle isn’t conducive to meeting a ton of new people all the time either, so it seems unlikely, which is fine with me.

    I’m shocked that my family doesn’t really ever mention my perpetual singledom – does yours? My grandmother does say something from time to time, but mostly because she relates to me. She’s in her 80s and just can’t be bothered to cater to anyone, so we laugh about that together! 🙂

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Katie: It sounds like you’ve had a similar path to mine. I’m glad you’re happy too! Like your family, my family hardly ever mentions it. My parents aren’t perfect, but at heart, I think they just want their kids and grandkids to be happy. Plus, it’s helped to distract them that both my brother and sister are married and either have kids or are expecting.

  10. Joe Pilkus says:

    Jamey,

    For me, it seemed to be the obvious thing to do. After college, having found “the one” (well, at least for the next decade or so), I joined the Air Force and we lived overseas for my first posting. We moved back to the States, and we both pursued our careers, even with a little one on the house…she with the State Dept and me still with the Air Force, before we each changed jobs in 2005, with me joining the FBI. A few years later, however, marriage wasn’t nearly as rosy and we parted as friends.

    Flash forward now seven years, my daughter is now in college and my girlfriend and I spend time together and time apart (which is probably healthy). I thoroughly enjoy all of the work (and play) of a board game designer and developer, so that fills my time, along with travel. Will I ever get married again? I don’t know…it definitly won’t be for the reasons (whatever they may have been) I did years ago, but the companionship in later years does weigh on my mind.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Joe: Thanks for sharing your history (and a sneak peek into your future). I can relate to the desire for companionship.

  11. Tom Wright says:

    Man… I’m so codependent that having a permanent person around is vital.

    I used to work from home on Tuesdays and Molly would be at her job, and I’d be nuts by the time she got home.

    Although, having said that, I do not endorse getting married because of mental issues. It just happens to work awesomely for me. (and hopefully for Molly, too…)

  12. I met my wife 10 years ago. We started dating in 2010, and got married in 2015. Became parents a little more than a year later, and we love and care for each other as much as we have 8 years ago.

    Anyway, we are all different people, with different problems and needs. So I completely understand anyone who decides not to get married, or doesn’t want a kid (or kids). I just don’t like it when people are aggressive about it; “You are a fool for getting married!” or “Your life is over because of the kid!” and such. It’s just like forcing religion or eating habits and similar onto people.

  13. Erin H. says:

    Do what makes *you* happy. Don’t fret about the future. You can also be in a long term (or forever) relationship without the piece of paper that says your married.

  14. Sara says:

    Marriage, to me, means that I’m done looking. It took me a long time to come to that realization. It sounds overly simplistic, but if you ask yourself, “do I see myself breaking up with this person?” and the answer is No, then why not get married? This is after a sufficient courtship (about 2 years) and presumably having been through at least one significantly stressful situation together.

    My now husband and I started dating about a week before my mother passed away. So he had to deal with a very emotional me. Two months later, I stayed with him at his apartment while I did a small remodel on my house. Two weeks turned into two months (as it tends to go with contractors) and we never skipped a beat. At the six-month mark, he had a massive heart attack (at 41 yrs old) at home, and I was there to call the ambulance. I called one of his sisters from out of state to inform the family what was going on – she had actually heard of me! She knew who I was! Yay!

    So we’d seen each other through some really tough events in a short period of time and came out unscathed. We didn’t argue; the only appreciable red flag I could find was his alarmingly casual attitude about leaving breadcrumbs on the counter. I started really thinking about it and thought – wow – we really get along! I really enjoy him! He really enjoys me! His friends like me! My friends like him! There’s absolutely no reason to break up! When he proposed almost 2 years in, of course I said YES! Five years later, he’s still the best decision I ever made.

    In a nutshell, marriage is being really sure you’re both done looking. It can’t happen if either of you doesn’t want to commit for fear of missing out on something better coming along.

    There should be absolutely zero pressure to get married. I’d rather see you (or anybody) single forever than married to the wrong one. The major thing is that you’re actually happy and content to be single. You don’t need to be married just to have someone to wheel you into a home!

  15. Candy Mercer says:

    Sara, speaking some truth! I wanted to weigh in on something I have learned, is that we tend to overvalue sexual relationships at the expense of other relationships which can also be very fulfilling. There is the friend/relationship binary, and I know I had significant emotional relationships that were platonic but were just as important. I think friendship is considered secondary, when in reality, oftentimes, it is your friends, and your family, whether it be biological or the one you make for yourself, that is there through thick and thin, when relationships come and go, your community is there for you!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Sara: I love this! “Marriage, to me, means that I’m done looking.” I’ve definitely never reached that point in a relationship. Thank you for sharing the story of yours–it’s heartwarming. 🙂

      Candy: I really like that sentiment as well. My friendships are incredibly important to me (and I like that, at 37, I’m still making new friends).

  16. Erin H. says:

    “I’m done looking”, “I don’t ever want to be with someone else”. Feelings change. There are 2 people in the relationship. Nothing like hearing “I never imagined getting old with you” from your husband. Sorry, Jamey, recently burned. I’m not against long-term relationships, but marriage is a sheet of paper and legal-headache unless there is a strong religious belief…thats a whole different topic 🙂 Keep looking!! 🙂

  17. Sara says:

    Erin, I’m very sorry for what you’re going through! I think most of us have been there in one form or another, and it sure does suck.

    I told the story of my current marriage – perhaps I should spill about my first marriage. I was 18; he was 23. We had only been together a year. I knew before we got married that we shouldn’t be getting married. I’d already said yes and didn’t want to disappoint his family by changing my mind. My immature self didn’t realize I could just say “I want to break up” and be done. We split up shortly after our second anniversary.

    My husband was still paying $2400 a month in spousal support to his ex. They’d dated for 7 yrs and had been married for 7. I wasn’t looking for a husband (or even a boyfriend) when we met. I was pleasantly surprised when he turned out not to be soured on the idea of marriage. I was 42, and he was 44 when we met.

    In between those marriages, I’d done lots of dating/sleeping around. I was forever giving these guys way more than they deserved hoping that one of them would decide I was the one for them. Exhausting, potentially dangerous (health-wise) and not at all good for the self esteem. When someone says “I don’t want a relationship” they generally mean “I don’t want a relationship with YOU.” That was a hard lesson to learn, but I eventually started to shift gears and be OK with being single.

    So it’s not like I got my fairytale guy from the start. I went through plenty of crap first.

  18. Candy Mercer says:

    I am 55 and still making friends with young’uns! In fact I played Viticulture last night for the first time w some young’uns. I beat them handily so they will show proper respect. 😉 And one thing I think I could have been clearer about in my post. I have had significant partner like relationships w friends but they were not considered romantic because they were platonic. But they filled some of the same emotional needs, and contained romance and even commitment, though never spoken. And some of them had breakup like endings that hurt. So yeah, not a binary blah, blah, blah!

  19. Tracy says:

    On my 35th birthday, I gave myself a fat dose of real talk: I may very well be single forever, and that’s ok. Dating sucked; I hated it! I bounced from one bad decision to the next, always disappointed that feelings never matched up. And I could never find that person who I wanted to be around all the time (as you said). I was done!

    Five months later, a friend unexpectedly turned into something more. Smacked me right in the back of the head, as I didn’t see him coming at all! He was younger (by 10 years), but an old soul. Wise beyond his years. So what happened next? We got married when I was 38, and I was 40 when our first baby was born. Not AT ALL path I thought life would take me! But now I can’t imagine my life any other way.

    My only advice: don’t close your mind to it. Because you never know when that unexpected woman is going to smack you in the back of the head. And you will want to spend every second with her. 🙂

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I think that’s excellent advice, Tracy. Even though marriage may not be for me, I’ll keep an open mind about the right person. She better not smack me in the back of the head, though! 🙂

  20. Candy Mercer says:

    Jamey, she will need to beat you at Scythe 😉

  21. […] back and forth about if I would use the System if it were real (and if I changed my mind about marriage). It sure would be tempting. Okay, fine, I’d use […]

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