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A Free Spirit Who Never Wanted Marriage

by Cheryl Probst

Getting married was never a priority for me. In my late 30s, my favorite T-shirt, until I wore it out, pictured a mother talking to her daughter: “Dear, you’re 30 years old. Why haven’t you gotten married?” The daughter replied, “I…uh…forgot.”

Only I hadn’t forgotten to get married. It wasn’t something I wanted to do.

Why Would Anyone Want to Get Married?

Over the years, I’d had a few proposals and even said yes, but when push came to shove (like setting a date), I was outta that relationship. Why would anyone want to get married when there were so many exciting things to do and see just waiting for me to discover them? I wanted to find these experiences and wanted them to find me.

Along the way, I’d read my share of romance novels where the hero gets down on bended knee to propose to the fair maiden. In real life, it just doesn’t happen that way, or at least it never did to me. And, at the age that I finally succumbed to marriage, a man’s arthritic knees would have prevented it anyway.

I Was Very Independent

After working in Oregon, Washington and Alaska for 25 years and traveling around the world, I began my grandest adventure yet: I accepted a newspaper job in China. For the next few years, I bounced between the United States and Beijing. Almost two years after returning from life in Beijing, I was floundering in my attempts to readjust to life back in the United States. I decided my salvation would be (weekend only) male companionship, leaving me the rest of the week to live life as I wanted.

And Then I Met Jon

I turned to online dating sites, and had a few disastrous dates, including one with a man who was so lonely he proposed an hour into our first (and only) meeting. And then I met Jon. It is a wonder our relationship survived two months of emails before we agreed to meet. In an early email, he said he’d been divorced for four years and was ready to get married again. “Go find somebody else!” I fired back.

We’d been dating a few months when I mentioned I was going to buy a condo. “Make it a house,” he said. “I need a garage.” And, that’s how we came to live together.

On our first night in the house, he said if we were still together in a year, we should get married. I said sure, knowing that was never going to happen because I simply didn’t want to get married. I was, after all, almost 55 years old and saw no reason to change my single status.

Jon was a motorcycle enthusiast by vocation and avocation. He worked as a mechanic at a local motorcycle shop by day. At night, he worked on his own motorcycles. At one time, I counted 16 motorcycles in our backyard. Doing this repair work meant we made a lot of trips north to Spokane to get parts.

Jon's Proposal

A few months into our first year, we were a few miles out of Spokane, heading home after another successful parts-buying trip. As we neared a freeway exit, Jon turned to me and said, “Let’s turn around and go to Coeur d’Alene and get married.” (There was no waiting period to get married in this Idaho border city.)

“I’m not getting married in jeans!” I retorted.

That was the last proposal I ever received. Not very romantic, but it worked for him. We got married a week before the year of living together ended. And, I wore a dress, not jeans, though if I had gotten married that day, my denim wedding ensemble would have cost four times the $19.99 dress I purchased at Ross for the occasion.

That was 10 years ago. We’re still married. And, I’m still having adventures around the world.

Read more about Cheryl Probst and her adventures in China:

Cheryl's China

Cheryl's Northwest

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Cheryl Probst may have changed her marital status, but not her name, since she’s been writing professionally under that byline for more than four decades. Now retired from the 9-to-5 office grind, she’s pursuing a career as a freelance writer of guidebooks and articles about travel in China. You can read about some of her experiences at Cheryl’s China.

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  1. Judy

    A warm real life love story. All things are possible.