Yep, I had it all planned out like most young girls do. It’s odd how marriage has become one of the steps in a so-called successful life. Bizarrely, there seems to be a kind of checklist to show your worth in life. Finish highschool. Go to university. Go on your O.E. Get amazing, high paid job. Meet man of your dreams and get him to propose. Get married. Buy a house. Have gorgeous children. Laugh triumphantly while you update your Facebook profile, taking time to make sure all your friends know just how perfect your life is! It’s pre-written paths like this that lead people to become unhappily married. If you’re too desperate to tick something off the list, can you really be sure you are making the right choice?
And what of the man or woman who plays the game, dangles the bait, slides on the ring and then changes dramatically over night when they no longer have to pretend any more. For some, marriage is like finally letting your stomach flap out after a long night in a clinging dress. The test is over, now you can relax and let yourself go. But what if the other participant isn’t so pleased about this new development? Why anyone would get married without first living with their partner is completely beyond me! But it does happen. In fact Patti Stanger of Millionaire Matchmaker strictly recommends women do not move in with their boyfriends before marriage as it may prevent them from popping the question. And really who wants a happy healthy marriage? We’re all just after the ring, right? The shiny sparkly ring, that makes us feel worthwhile.
The Lover-Man and I have been happily unmarried for over 10 years now. After we’d been together three years, the subject of marriage came up. We talked about it a lot and we both agreed: Why spend all that money on one day? We’d much rather use it to by a home to raise our children in without the constant stress of being asked to move out if the owner decided to sell or move back into it themselves. We could also go travelling with that money. Why blow it all on one day, a few toasters, some cutlery and an expensive book of photos? We didn’t care enough about being married to go down to a registry office and do it. What difference does it really make? The Lover-Man had said, we both know we want to be together forever, we don’t need a piece of paper to confirm it. I agreed. So we bought a house instead. A commitment, we both felt was much stronger than marriage anyway.
Raising our children in the wake of the global economic crisis only made this all seem even more poignant. For so many years everyone around us had lived a life of excess, while we had toiled away saving our pennies. Money was to be spent and if you blew far too much on a big night so what, there was more to be made, right? Not so much after 2008. Lucky for us we bought a modest home and learnt to live on one income. We learnt to cut corners and only buy what we really needed. Its amazing what you can live on when you have to and you are happy. We may not be drinking Moet, but we are one happy little family in our cosy little house. A little house we would not have been able to buy at all if we had decided to get married. That one day would have completely changed our futures.
After we had our first son, we again thought, should we? And when I had a bad dose of PND I felt a bit insecure about the fact that we weren't married. I felt like older people were looking at my left hand to see if there was a ring on it. And then judging me when they saw there wasn’t one. Perhaps they thought I was single mother who’d ‘got herself into trouble’ or that my son was unplanned. Neither of these things were true. I think this experience tainted the idea of marriage for me. What difference did being married make? It doesn’t make you a better mother nor does it mean that you are any less likely to stay together as parents. Plenty of married people with children get divorced all the time, so in reality being married does not make your relationship any more secure. The only things that can do that are love, sex and communication.
Ephesians 5:22 – 33:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
In the same vein, considering my opposition to Christianity, isn’t it a little offensive of me to partake in said ceremony? It’s a bit like someone who can’t stand Judaism having a bat mitzvah.
I feel like it is wrong to get married when so many people in the world who want to, can’t. New Zealand is ahead in the human rights movement, passing a bill in 2013 so that gay and lesbian couples can now get married. That is great. But there are still so many countries where marriage is not an option for two people who love each other who also happen to be the same sex. This is not fair. If I were to get married, I would feel like I am saying this is okay. I’d feel like I am supporting an institution that would not support me if I were gay. In that sense, I don’t want any part of it.
There is something to be said about romance. I love romance, Lover-Man however does not communicate on a romantic frequency. Over the years though, I have adjusted and I have also learnt to read his romantic cues. Him bringing me a cup of tea in bed and letting me sleep in on a Saturday morning, is more romantic to both of us than 100 red roses. I definitely don't need him to give me a diamond ring to know that he loves me.
All of this is not to say that I don’t think other people should get married. Getting married is a choice. And whatever the reason, whatever the drive, it is your choice. Not mine. But personally, I prefer to stay happily unmarried, till death do us part.