In her 65 years of life, Oprah Winfrey has accomplished enough for three lifetimes. The media mogul, actress, television host, and philanthropist is one of the most influential and respected figures in the world. Throughout her rich and exciting life, Winfrey has often been questioned about marrying her longtime partner Stedman Graham, who she’s been dating since the mid-’80s. Though she once considered having a traditional family at one point, she says their decision to not walk down the aisle or start a family ultimately was the best for them.

Winfrey recently appeared on the cover of People magazine as part of their  Women Changing the World series. Within the interview, she admits that marriage and children was once on the table when she and Graham became engaged in 1992. “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,’” Winfrey said.

She goes on to say that while filming The Oprah Winfrey Show, she had an epiphany of sorts. “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 says. “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.”

Winfrey says her thoughts about becoming a wife began to shift as well. She continues, “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. 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.”

Both Winfrey and Stedman have no regrets about not saying, “I Do.”

“Both he and I now say, ‘If we had married, we would not be together,’” she adds. “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.”

To conclude, Winfrey says her maternal void is filled through the extended family she has built the students that have attended her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. “Those girls fill that maternal fold that I perhaps would have had. In fact, they overfill — I’m overflowed with maternal.”

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