Atticus Finch had never held much interest in marriage, much to the chagrin of his parents. As the eldest son, he was expected by his mother to find a suitable wife and settle down on the family estate. Luckily for his ambitions, his father held a much more lenient view on the subject of his son's marital status, and encouraged Atticus to put his substantial brains to good use and attend law school. The way he figured it, his son wasn't much of the marrying type. He was nearsighted and bookish, hadn't gone out for any sports in his schoolboy days, and refused to go hunting with the other male members of the Finch tribe, in spite of his astonishing skill with a gun that had earned him the nickname "One-shot Finch." Often his father felt that Atticus' superior marksmanship and the fear and awe it inspired in his peers was the only thing that kept him from being mercilessly teased for his lack of interest in typical manly activities. Though he avoided it whenever possible, every once in a while Silas Finch got the feeling that perhaps there was a decided reason that his son showed no interest in tomcatting about the way his brother Jack did. But as Atticus tended to keep his personal affairs private from the rest of the family, he contented himself with the idea that no evidence had ever arisen to support the feeling.

All in all, though, Silas Finch had accepted the very real possibility that his son would never marry with the same grace that he employed in accepting Atticus' lack of interest in football, and he never bothered him by mentioning it, even in subtle longing hints about future grandchildren. Perhaps if he didn't have another boy who was far more understandable and similar to himself, he would feel less inclined to let Atticus be. As it was, he saw no reason in pestering the boy the same way that his mother did, and tried to support him in his endeavors to obtain the bar. When he did so, and returned triumphantly after four years of hard work and cold weather in Massachusetts to Finch's Landing, he was met with a clap on the back from his father and brother and a disappointed glance to the crook of his arm where no lady's hand rested. She spent Christmas Eve dinner looking sullenly every so often at the empty seat of the dining room table next to Atticus, as if a fine-mannered, well-bred young woman would magically appear. Silas was tempted to tell his wife that perhaps if she had been good enough this year, St. Nick would stuff a southern belle down the chimney with Atticus' name embroidered on her hair ribbon, but held his tongue for the sake of his son.

Luckily, a Christmas miracle did occur for Jean Finch, in the form of her only daughter arriving early Christmas morning, with a marquise-cut diamond ring on her finger and a note for her father from a one James Hancock asking for her hand in marriage. In a way, this was as much a blessing to Atticus as it was to his mother; she had managed to get a child into wedlock, and he had managed to get her off of his back. The remainder of the family visit was spent with Jean and Alexandra buried in wedding plans, while the neglected male members sought to avoid the living room at all costs, or else be subjected to lengthy discussions on lace patterns and buttercream cakes. And upon seeing firsthand the frenzy that matrimony inspired in his mother, Atticus decided that he would not mind much if he never had to deal with such silliness. The truth of it was that Alexandra didn't wasn't in love with James. She always had much more solid reasons for her decisions than frivolous emotions. She was marrying James because she wanted a stable marriage to a man with a good name and family background. He fit all of the criteria, and whether she loved him or not was irrelevant. Practicality called for an engagement. And while Atticus prided himself on his own sense of practicality, he felt no need to extend it so far as marrying a woman he didn't love. Though he was 26 years old, Atticus Finch was inexperienced in the ways of love. Not physically, but emotionally. He had had a few schoolboy crushes, of course. But he had never felt that deep connection that he read about in his classic literature class in college, which included both Shakespeare and Bronte. Therefore he began to think of himself as a settled bachelor. Never finding a wife, but never bothering to look for one in the first place.

As the years went by, even his mother was forced to face the ever shrinking window of acceptable marriage age for her son, though the window was always a bit wider for men than women, which gave her little comfort. Ten years passed after Alexandra's marriage, and Atticus had been an uncle for nine of them, but a "proper" nine, according to Jean. Atticus felt that poor Henry was doomed to be a loveless child, coming out of a loveless marriage, and he found himself to be rather correct. And so he continued his law practice, which by now had been established in the sleepy town of Maycomb for a good five years. Atticus liked Maycomb and its inhabitants; they were a pleasant folk, and some of them had far more common sense than many of his colleagues in law school. And Atticus felt no hole in his life when he encountered men of the same age as himself with lovely wives on their arms, or small children on their shoulders. After all, how could you miss something if you'd never been especially drawn to it in the first place? Then one ordinary Monday, August the tenth, all of Atticus' preconceived notions, his happy ignorance of the necessity of marriage, was absolutely demolished. To be fair, this was no story of love at first sight. Atticus Finch had far more sense than to get in over his head in such an abrupt fashion. But to say that Louise Graham had no great effect on him when he was first introduced to her would be an egregious lie.