Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham have been together more than 30 years. He even proposed.
So why has the media mogul never married the Identity Leadership instructor? According to her essay in O, the Oprah Magazine, it’s because she wanted them to stay together.
They met in 1986, when they happened to be visiting a mutual friend who had AIDS. They left together and got a beer, but, Winfrey wrote, “I wasn't that impressed.”
They became friends, but didn’t date for months. Graham had a girlfriend at the time.
In 1993, Winfrey accepted Graham’s marriage proposal. However, she wrote, “the moment after I said yes to his proposal, I had doubts. I realized I didn't actually want a marriage. I wanted to be asked.”
I wanted to know he felt I was worthy of being his missus, but I didn't want the sacrifices, the compromises, the day-in-day-out commitment required to make a marriage work. My life with the show was my priority, and we both knew it.
Graham agreed the two would not have made a marriage work.
According to Winfrey: “Our relationship works because he created an identity beyond being ‘Oprah's man’ (he teaches Identity Leadership around the world and has written multiple books on the subject). And because we share all the values that matter (integrity being number one). And because we relish seeing the other fulfill and manifest their destiny and purpose.”
This isn’t the first time she’s opened up about the couple’s relationship. In 2017, she told Vogue magazine: “The only time I brought it up was when I said to Stedman, ‘What would have happened if we had actually gotten married?’ And the answer is: ‘We wouldn’t be together.’ We would not have stayed together, because marriage requires a different way of being in this world.”
Last year, Winfrey told People magazine why she decided not to have children. During her years on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” she said, she saw “the depth of responsibility and sacrifice that is actually required to be a mother.”
“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 said. “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. Nobody gives women the credit they deserve.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.