Oprah Winfrey Shares Why She Chose Not to Have Kids or Get Married

Oprah Winfrey holds a myriad of titles: media mogul, talk show icon, book club queen, Academy Award-nominated actress, among others. Achieving success through her years of hard work and determination, Winfrey’s had some faithful people in her corner from the beginning including her longtime partner, Stedman Graham, and best friend CBS This Morning’s lead anchor Gayle King.

Winfrey recently shared that despite her solid relationship with Graham, whom she met in 1986, she does not regret never marrying or having children.

Stedman Graham and Oprah Winfrey | Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images

Stedman by her side

According to People, Winfrey met Graham, who was divorced and had a daughter, at a charity event over 30 years ago. The two even got engaged in 1992, and were planning to marry the following year. Despite their engagement, Winfrey wanted to forego a diamond ring. “If you’ve all noticed or watched over the years,” she told her studio audience, “I don’t wear rings. I’ve only ever wanted one ring [a wedding ring].”

Their impending wedding was front-and-center in the headlines, though they were very private about any details, including a date. “We will announce happily when we’re getting married when we decide, and not before,” Graham had previously said.

Though no concrete specifics were given as to why, the marriage never happened. In a New York Post article from 2000, a narrator for her A&E Biography special asked the public and media to stop questioning the couple’s status. “Oprah has made it clear to the public that she is happy with their relationship just as it is—no more questions about marriage,” the narrator said. It was confirmed in 1995 that the two did move in together.

Thoughts on children

Winfrey recently admitted that after her engagement to Graham, she considered having kids with him. “At one point in Chicago I had bought an additional apartment because I was thinking, ‘Well, if we get married, I’m going to need room for children,’” she told People.

After years of doing her show and understanding the commitment of parenting, the media mogul had second thoughts. “I realized, ‘Whoa, I’m talking to a lot of messed-up people, and they are messed up because they had mothers and fathers who were not aware of how serious that job is,’” she shared.

Winfrey commended women who take on the role of motherhood, especially those that stay at home full time. “I don’t have the ability to compartmentalize the way I see other women do. It is why, throughout my years, I have had the highest regard for women who choose to be at home [with] their kids, because I don’t know how you do that all day long,” she said. “Nobody gives women the credit they deserve.”

No regrets

The talk show icon is now able to look back without any regret, including not making it official with Graham. “I used to think about this all the time, that I was working these 17-hour days, and so were my producers, and then I go home and I have my two dogs and I have Stedman, who’s letting me be who I need to be in the world,” Winfrey shared. “He’s never demanding anything from me like, ‘Where’s my breakfast? Where’s my dinner?’ Never any of that, which I believed would have changed had we married.”

She went on to express that marrying Graham would have had a negative effect on their relationship. “Both he and I now say, ‘If we had married, we would not be together,’” Winfrey revealed. “No question about it — we would not stay married, because of what that would have meant to him, and I would have had my own ideas about it.”

Winfrey is clearly confident in the decisions she has made regarding her relationship status with Graham, and her position on parenting. “I have not had one regret about that. I also believe that part of the reason why I don’t have regrets is because I got to fulfill it in the way that was best for me: the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa,” she shared. “Those girls fill that maternal fold that I perhaps would have had. In fact, they overfill — I’m overflowed with maternal.”