Oprah explains why she and Stedman Graham chose 'spiritual partnership' over marriage

Despite accepting his proposal decades ago, Oprah Winfrey credits her decision not to say “I do” with keeping their love alive.
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham
In a new article for O magazine, Oprah Winfrey opens up about her longtime relationship with Stedman Graham. Jason Merritt / Getty Images

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/ Source: TODAY
By Ree Hines

Oprah Winfrey’s partner of over 33 years popped the question back in 1993 — and she said yes. But the former talk-show titan and Stedman Graham remain unwed to this day.

And, according to her, not taking that walk down the aisle is the secret to their success.

“The moment after I said yes to his proposal, I had doubts,” the 65-year-old explained in a piece she penned for her O magazine. “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.”

In fact, she goes so far as to say that, “He and I agree that had we tied the marital knot, we would not still be together.”

Winfrey believes her romance with Graham, 68, relies on that independence that exists within their partnership.

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“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),” she wrote. “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.”

In 2017, during an interview with Vogue, Winfrey said that marriage would have made that impossible.

"(It's) a different way of being in this world," she told the publication. "His interpretation of what it means to be a husband and what it would mean for me to be a wife would have been pretty traditional, and I would not have been able to fit into that."

So, they opted for something else.

“It's what (spiritual teacher and ‘Seat of the Soul’ author) Gary Zukav defines as a spiritual partnership,” Winfrey wrote in her recent O essay. “Partnership between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth. “

And while marriage isn’t in the cards for the couple, the more surprising detail about them in her essay might be that there was a time when even dating seemed out of the question — as far as she was concerned.

She barely knew him back then in 1986, and she considered him “tall and handsome, for sure,” but added, “actually too handsome, I thought, to be interested in me.”

So when he seemed interested all the same, she doubted him.

“I figured he must be a player. So did all my producers. They warned me not to get involved with that Stedman guy,” she recalled. “Aside from his appearance, they knew nothing about him. But anybody that good-looking driving a vintage Mercedes merited suspicion.”

Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham, pictured two years after their engagement, at the 1995 Essence Awards in New York City.AP

But time proved any suspicion unfounded, and he’s long since proven himself to be her perfect partner.

She added, “He's appropriately named because he's steady as a mountain.”