miss havisham, great expectations, single, spinster, never marry, more single, forever single

‘Why did she never marry?’

I am 42 and a spinster. I am not married and I have never been married. Might I get married? I suppose it’s possible. I feel no wild yearnings but nice to think that the universe has left that particular door open. Like those ladies you read about who marry the man they thought they had lost in the war at 91.

But there is a deeply dispiriting phrase that I when hear people talk about women from their late thirties onwards and it is this: “Did she never marry?” My mother did it the other day and added a sparkling addendum: “Did she never marry? What’s wrong with her?”

I didn’t grow up dreaming of a spring wedding and sketching a dress but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about what a wedding – or a marriage – might be like. I still wonder. And though I don’t long for the pealing of church bells and the sparkling of a diamond ring (are engagement rings a bit silly?), I do allow my mind to drift now and again. Is that tragic? Am I, in my early forties, basically dead when it comes to matrimony? Is it undignified to consider it? If I ever did get married would I have to wear a skirt suit?

We are told and told and told that women over the age of 35 are more likely to be struck by lightning than to get married. OK. But can’t I please be unmarried rather than unmarry-able? To humour me if nothing else? Condemning the late bloomers to life alone seems a little ungenerous. Because by this time in life we have learnt that anything can happen. And sometimes it does.

I’m Absolutely Fine! The Manual for Imperfect Women is out in paperback now

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