Are Relationship Titles for Convenience?


I have this aunt and this uncle. They have been married for more than 25 years. This past Christmas holiday they opened their gifts from each other, danced after dinner, and cuddled all night like a couple of newlyweds.

Then, after a few days of non-stop PDA and fun, my aunt packed up the suitcase she’d brought with her, got on a plane and flew across the country back to her home… where she lives… alone.

My uncle stayed in Ohio, went back to his normal routine of work and then went back to his house… where he lives… alone.

Twenty-five plus years and for the past eight or nine they’ve been separated. Oh sure, every now and then they’ll live with each other again for a few months, but then, like clockwork, they’re back to their separate corners, doing their separate things.

My aunt ventures out and dates— and I’m sure my uncle does the same— but whenever she comes back into town it’s like they’ve resumed their marriage, like nothing has ever happened. For years my aunt has been saying she’s going to divorce him and for years she never has.

One day I asked her, “Why don’t you just get the divorce already? Y’all have been apart for so long.” And do you know what she said?
She said: “Even though he’s not here and we don’t live together, we’re still legally married and, in a way, that means I’m not single.”

There you have it.

Women today are so consumed with and afraid of the idea of being alone that some would rather hold onto something that isn’t truly there just for comfort. She hasn’t yet found a new man (or the right one) and so instead of crying “alone” or “by myself” she holds onto the fact that she still has a husband, legally. It saddened me to hear this.

Marriage is a title; it takes much more than signing a piece of paper to cultivate and sustain a real marriage. But how many of us women choose to hold onto a title, any title, just to say we are technically in relationship even if the physical aspect isn’t there? Men too. I have another uncle and he’s guilty of the same thing. He lives up north, his wife lives down south, been married on paper for decades but living apart for years.

Channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw: “I wonder, is holding onto the title of a broken or false relationship better than having no relationship at all?”
What do you think, sistas?


Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Marks aspires to help make a difference in society through the messages in her writings. She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Check her out at:




  1. I really enjoyed this article, but have a somewhat different take on the relationship of this couple.

    Maybe what they are doing works for them. Maybe not being “single” simply means your aunt still values her marriage vows.

    Yes, there are a lot of women (and men) who hold on to titles and relationships for outward appearances, but not everyone. Traditional relationships don’t work for everyone. I know. I’m in one… and more than happy to be. ?

  2. I agree Christianne. Sometimes couples just do what works for them, no matter how weird.

  3. i agree as well that people do what is convenient for them not what traditionally has happened in marriage relationships. i for one do not plan on getting married, but i prefer to have a companion without sex and living together. we might live together, but no sex. i will take care of him like make his doctor’s appointment and go places together, we will be together, but just no sex.

  4. Sometimes its not about being alone, its about starting over and not being able to pay bills. It about security for some women, I would prefer to not have a relationship than be married.

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