Why marriage isn’t one of life’s goals for me

Marriage: not a life goal for me

Even though we’re living in a time where the importance of and interest in religion seems at an all time low, and the UK divorce rate is just under 50%, marriage still appears on many people’s list of Things To Do Before I’m 30.

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From little girls designing their dream dress, to glamorous Hollywood fairytale movies churning out the same old ‘hetero couple face conflict yet their love survives against all odds and this obviously culminates in a big church white wedding’, marriage is still seen as a rite of passage for most. Just look at all the controversy over whether gay marriage should be legal.

What? No. You can’t have our religious based hetero marriage. You can have a legal document and be happy with that.

And don’t even think about a legal hitch up and declaration of love if you happen to love more than one person.

As for my personal feelings, I do find the whole idea of marriage slightly farcical. I mean, it was meant to symbolise a bond which lasts til death; til death do us part and all that. How many times does that actually happen now? Rarely, as referenced in the divorce rates above. I’m not saying people should stay in unhappy marriages, but why ‘tie the knot’ at all if you know there’s a get-out clause when you’ve had enough? It’s like sentencing someone to life for murder but showing them where the back door is if they just don’t fancy it any more one day.

Not that I would ever compare marriage to a life sentence, of course. *coughs*

why marriage isn't a life goal for meBut seriously, marriage according to friends I’ve spoken to seems to be merely a big party where she gets to wear a much more expensive and spectacular dress than all her friends – and he gets to secretly be happy that someone’s agreed to marry him. Outwardly, of course, he’s loudly agreeing with his mates that they need to make the most of his ‘last night of freedom’ before he attaches himself to the old ‘ball and chain’. Seriously mate, if you don’t want to get married, don’t.

Attitudes towards marriage, in the circles I’ve found myself in, range from a pretty open ‘meh, if you want to get wed then do’ to ‘OMG marriage is the be all and end all of life itself’. Unfortunately some people, women in particular in my experience, seem to view marriage as the ultimate sign that he loves them (yes, again, marriage is mainly seen as a hetero thing. Sigh).

When is he going to propose? Will it be this Valentine’s Day? On my birthday perhaps? Maybe it will be at Christmas. Is that tiny box under the tree another pair of earrings, or The Ring (aka My Precious)? OMG, I think it is. He’s really going to ask The Question.

Some friends have got themselves so worked up about it that when said proposal doesn’t happen, they’re absolutely crushed and adamant that it means he doesn’t love them. Because if he did then he’d obviously propose to sign a legal document as part of a very expensive one day party, followed by a two week holiday in the sun. That’s the real meaning of love, obviously.

There are other ways of feeling secure in your love for someone, and that their love is reciprocated, other than fixating on the legal doc/big dress party that is weddings and the consequential marriage. I’ve been there and done that with marriage and subsequent divorce, and the morning after the wedding when I woke up to my first day of married life, I didn’t feel a jot different. There was no magical love cloud. No instant relationship security. Just a bill for the registrar and the reception, thank you very much. And don’t forget to get your dress dry cleaned before storing it in a suitcase under the bed forever (or, until you stick it on eBay).

I feel much more secure in my relationship now, even though we’re not married and he’s actually still married to someone else, than I ever did during my married stint. Sure, having a child with him helps, but I don’t advocate that as a way to feel properly secure in your relationship! It does certainly mean that I can’t just walk away and cut all ties. There will always be a tangible representation of our love for one another. But even without our child, we have worked on our relationship, through insecurities and hardships and relationship despair to reach a point where we feel happy and secure. For me, relationship and love security isn’t an unchanging thing. I haven’t reached some sacred point of certainty, meaning security is assured at all times from now on. It requires constant work, constant communication and care for each other. There are brilliant times and there are rubbish times. There are soppy, vomit inducing lovey-dovey moments and there are blazing rows and pissed-offness and hurt and upset. Basically, there are the normal ups and downs of any relationship.

No, I don’t need marriage or a legal certificate to prove that we love each other or in some attempt to feel more secure in this relationship. If you’re a fan of marriage, all power to you. But see it for what it is, a label of choice, prefaced by an expensive party with no magical power to alter reality from your first day of married life onwards. You’ll still be the same people, with the same connection and any insecurities which are part of that – don’t rely on marriage to be a relationship cure-all.

 

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