As a 30 year old female in the Western world, one topic has become particularly prevalent in conversations with friends over the last 18 months; marriage. Loads of people I know have either got or are getting married, so it’s one of those subjects that keeps cropping up. I’m pretty sure I’ll find the same thing happens with the topic of babies in another couple of years’ time as the former so often leads to the latter.
I still have a massive question mark in my head as to the point of it all in today’s society though.
Let’s take an example – one friend I have confessed to me that she’s more excited about the party than the actual marriage. I totally get it; they’ve lived together for years so what is the marriage except a continuation of the life they already have? The actual wedding day though, well that’s a great big (expensive) celebration of their love and lives together. That sort of makes sense because who doesn’t love a party?
Does it warrant the cost of a house deposit / car though?
If we wander back in time just a handful of decades, marriage was a critical part of growing up. Society said that before we could co-habit or be so brazen as to tell the world we’d had sex by having a baby, we had to be married. Women also had far fewer job prospects and were expected to make lovely homes for their industrious husbands, so we can see why marriage was essential; men wanted sex and dinner on the table, while women needed a living (and sex – but nobody admits that).
Yes, I know I’m generalising and making a bit of a joke of it but my point is that previously, adult life really began at marriage. Wedding presents were homewares to help the happy couple set up their first home and begin the adventure of living together. Today, we’ve already done that and most of us frown upon those who dare to marry without testing out the living together bit first. We can have babies without marriage and our wedding “presents” are usually no more than a donation to an epic holiday fund, or “honeymoon” as we continue to call it.
So why do we do it?
Some people do it to represent their commitment to each other and that’s a great reason to enter the contract of marriage. Does it really signify commitment though? Divorce is hugely prevalent these days, so much so that marriage is almost an “I do until…”. It’s far harder to get out of a complex series of financial contracts than it is the marriage itself.
Some do it because they have a family and they would like everyone to have the same name. Strictly speaking, marriage isn’t needed to do this as you can just change your name but my issue is actually that still these days, it’s usually the woman who changes her name. I’ve seen an increase in double-barrelled surnames cropping up on my Facebook as women marry and want to hold onto some semblance of their former selves but goodness only knows what this means for the names of married women in the next generation, just imagine a Simone Smith-Jones-Brown-Thompson! Surely the changing of names is an outdated tradition by now?
And talking of outdated traditions, what is with the whole ring thing? I mean really, a bloody expensive rock gets put on the woman’s finger prior to the marriage like some sort of indicator of ownership. How is this still a thing? “Look how much of a man I am, I bought a huge rock and now I own her.” “Look how much he wants me, he bought me a huge rock and now I’m complete.”
Some might say I’m cynical and maybe I am but I’m struggling to justify marriage in my head. I don’t have any problem with others marrying and I love weddings but all of the above is what goes round in my mind when someone asks me when I think my boyfriend will propose. My answer, by the way is “hopefully never”. Sure I’d marry him if he was desperate to do that but that would be my only reason. Maybe that’s it. Maybe every couple has someone who needs that security and that’s why they get married. Me, I know I love my boy and I never want to let him go. I hope that’s enough for him too!