Modern Love: Marriage in the 21st Century
You meet an interesting guy in a pub one night. You start dating. You meet each others families. The pressure starts mounting to tie the knot, to commit to that one person for the rest of your life. You’ve been together for a year. Everyone thinks you’re some kind of power couple. You look good together. You co-habit well together. You become financially entangled with each other. You share chores. You buy a pet bunny.
But you’ve never really imagined what comes next. You’ve never planned your dream wedding. You haven’t really envisioned your life with that person 5 or 10 years down the line.
You love this man and he loves you. You’d both rather put down a deposit on a family home one day, than to spend all your time and money on just that – ONE DAY.
People get married. They get divorced. They remarry. They renew vowels. They buy engagement rings, wedding rings, eternity rings. What then?
Marriage had more significance in the past, when people didn’t get divorced, didn’t live together or have sex before marriage, and it also involved amalgamating their property, income etc. Now, I’m certainly not saying we should revert back to a women’s property becoming her husband’s – but nowadays, people get married and simply carry on as they did beforehand. They just spend a lot of money on a lavish occasion to let everyone know that they will continue to do so.
For me, the most important part about any marriage isn’t after all the build up, all the hoopla, all the wasting money – heck, if you’re that full of love, donate your cash to charity! – it’s the bit where one person says to the other “will you marry me?”. The decision to be together, forever. I feel that a lot of people simply sign up to planning a big party together when they ask that question, but not in all cases.
My sister is getting married very soon and all she wants is that bit of paper, but family and tradition is turning it into a week long event. We’ve barely met the guy and yet we’re spending all this money to make sure we look good in front of our guests. My outfit for the wedding alone costs half of my monthly income (thank you bank of mummy and daddy). I’m becoming increasingly disillusioned by marriage because for so many people, the focus is on the wedding, not the lifetime.
I’ve studied ritual a little in my time in academia and I can understand how going through rights of passage can be hugely symbolic for couples who are hoping to commit to each other for life, but maybe that’s all you can symbolise – the hope that it’s forever. Some people enter marriage knowing it’s not going to last. Add to that the pressure of spending all this money on one big party, and you’re probably not going to back out. You’re probably going to go through the motions and just wait for your first chance to ask for a divorce.
You don’t need a materialistic wedding. Nobody gives two shits what your wedding favours are. We all feel awkward with seating plans, and you probably won’t get enough wear out of your dress to justify spending that much money – especially as you’ve put so much strain on your body dieting to get into it. But then maybe you’ll remarry and get your money’s worth!
There’s no point in planning for one perfect day. A perfect wedding does not guarantee a perfect marriage. Nothing can. That takes work, commitment, forgiveness and unwavering love.