It’s rapidly approaching my 4th wedding anniversary (and our 9th year together) and it’s got me thinking, which makes a pleasant change from my usual vacuous state eh?!
Is marriage just a big jolly day out? Your wedding day is always referred to as the biggest day of your life. But is marriage an outdated institution in the 21st century or is it still relevant in today’s society?
It’s the classic happy ending of every story, regardless of the medium, on paper, on the big screen, heavily lit on a west end stage or in an idle day dream while sitting on the 25a bus home.
The presiding message is that love is completed by marriage… and then followed by babies and the rest of your life together until the day you both check out.
Does anyone stop to think what happens at the end of the happy ending? What happens in the after part of happily ever after? No, I suspect not. It’s just an excuse for a big (and heinously expensive) family party. Would it not be cheaper to just have a big house party of hire out the local working men’s club?!!
But what happens after the happy ever after? Is marriage actually any more than just a nice day out for family and friends these days?
When you turn on the telly or open a glossy magazine, the people pioneering this happily ending jolly wedded bliss only seem to last as long as it takes for the ink to dry on their Hello Magazine exclusive or the scabs to heal on their latest tattoo declaring their love. (Do you Remember Johnny Depps Wino Forever debacle or Angelina Jolie’s Billy Bob tattoo removal?)
Take for example, off the top of my head, Avril & Deryck, Chantelle & Preston or Cheryl and Ashley.
Standing there in your silly frock, in the eyes of the Lord / Law (depends what your flavour is), does ‘til death do us part’ really only mean “until I get bored, you get baby fat, take up golf, get a beer belly, I’ve spent all our money or we’ve had a small fight over the dishes”? If so, what’s the point in bothering in the first place eh?!
In a 2001 survey, marriage hit an all time low on a sweeping decline that started waaaaaaay back in the late 1890s!! Over 1/3 of people surveyed believed marriage was an outdated institution.
It was also found the average age of men for getting married is 35 and for women it is 33
Marriage was originally set up as a business transaction moving the bride from one family to another, usually at great profit or value (think of dowries).
In days of yore, it bound the woman to the man with financial obligations, attaching her to her husband’s side, her only value and use was running a house hold, having his babies and making their new family unit. Back then, I suspect divorce did not exist as a man owned his wife, and if she wanted to leave she’d have no support, money or even a hope of doing so. Imagine how scary that would be if it was still the case. It’s not the case though thankfully and women are just as free as men, so in theory if women (both partners in fact) have the choice to leave, does this not render the concept of marriage as out dated?
In a quote from an article on Social Science from a Midlands University :
‘Historically, the decline of religion is an important factor for the majority of the population. The idea of a union blessed by God with a spiritual element to it has decreased dramatically.’
In the current day and age it seems buying a house, getting a dog, booking a holiday in advance, getting shared car finance and ultimately having a baby are ‘the new black’…. the new terms of commitment over taking the concept or marriage.
My personal view on marriage is that if you were truly committed to someone, love them and want to share the rest of your life with them, then you don’t need a ring and a ceremony and a piece of paper.
Yes marriage gives financial security to couples should a split occur or children come along, but just because you’re married, it doesn’t seem to mean you’re together forever.
Hell, I never had those day dreams that most girls have in their childhood of the big fairy princess wedding, the big white poofy dress and my prince charming proposing on one knee. For reference… I always wanted a bad boy like Johnny Castle to stand up to my dad and say no one puts Katie in a corner and then we all have a jolly big dance party.. but you can see I wasn’t the normal stereotypical little girl and I don’t think the Wife could lift me over his head in a sweeping lift LOL
I got married at 23 but prior to that I didn’t see the point. It’s just a piece of paper and a metal ring isn’t it? I never thought I’d find someone I could tolerate for long enough, or love enough to consider marrying.
That all changed when he proposed. That was it, I enjoyed the traditional sense of commitment and pride that he did want to join with me in that “life long” unity. Although it took us 5yr to actually marry, I have no regrets for nodding to such an ‘archaic tradition’ as it really does feel forever and that’s how I intend to keep it. I will say I don’t need a small puce screaming bag of vomit to cement that bond. My shiny diamond ring and 3 cats will more than suffice!!!
My parents have a strong (and long) marriage so I have a good experience of the married world, but the wife comes from a divorced family. I don’t know if that has had an effect on his sense of commitment and made him want to get married to have the solid loving relationship his parents never had or give him the impression that marriage is something you can walk away from when you’re sick of putting the effort in to make your partner happy, I don’t know… but if he hadn’t proposed, I’d really like to believe we’d still be together which is nicely reassuring.
This said, many folk are together long term without needing to get married (like Ma & Pa Larkin from darling buds of may!!), if that works for you and you have your own forms of commitment then hats off to you. It’s a modern day concept of ‘marriage’ isn’t it, the words and attitudes change but at the end of the day, it’s still long term commitment… which is what marriage is.
Most people do believe in having a soul mate, one person that is so perfect for them that no one else could compare, and while at least one person out there still believes in marriage, I don’t think its something that will die out.