I always thought that I wanted to get married. It just seemed like an inevitable step on the path of life. All my boyfriends previous were of the same opinion, and when the relationship got to a certain point, THE FUTURE was discussed.
When my partner and I got to that certain point, I was surprised by his reaction. He doesn’t want to get married, because he doesn’t see the point. If we are going to be together for the rest of our life, he reasons, that’s great, but why do we need to get married?
I was taken aback by this point of view. I said some things about commitment, and romance and he said, ‘well, I’m happy to go to a registry office with you if it matters, but I don’t see the point in spending all that money.’
At that point I was flummoxed because of course, I didn’t want it to be just the two of us in a registry office. I wanted a dress and a party and my family to be there. When I realised this, I was forced to wonder whether I really did want to be married, or whether I just wanted a wedding.
We’ve had this conversation many times since, as you can imagine, and he hasn’t changed his view one iota. The more I have listened to his arguments though, the more sense they have made. Is it much more of a commitment than buying a house, having children, or getting a dog? Clearly not. Once you have a child, you are bound together for life regardless of whether you’re married or not. Do we have thousands of pounds to spend on a wedding? Clearly not, and even if we did, we’d probably want to put it towards said house, child and dog.
The more I think about it, the less bothered I am about getting married. I don’t want to be Mrs Someone. I don’t want to change my name. I feel like I would be a different person with a different name. I know it’s silly, but when I add his surname onto my name, it sounds like a stranger. And why should I take his surname anyway? The only reason I can see is if his surname was more exciting that mine. I have had boyfriends in the past with brilliant surnames, but he is not one of them.
I don’t think that marriage should be abolished, and I don’t think that everyone who gets married is an idiot who hasn’t thought about it. However, in most areas of life we accept that things suit some people not others. When you look at marriage though, the assumption is that everyone wants to do it and that is, frankly, crazy. I can’t count the number of times that I have been asked when my partner is going to propose. I explain that he isn’t, because we aren’t getting married, and then people say, quite knowingly, I bet he will though. Why? Is it all an elaborate prank? Has he told you this? Have you even met him (in some cases)? No. People just assume that everyone wants to get married.
My partner’s view has forced me to think seriously about what is important to me, and I was quite surprised by the answers. I want a child, which I knew. I want a ring and a proposal. Obviously I don’t want him to ask me to marry him, only without a wedding. That would be crazy! I want him to do a romantic evening with a speech about how great I am and how much he wants to spend the rest of his life with me, culminating in me receiving a ring. And I would like a small party, perhaps on our ten year anniversary or something. If he was to propose, properly, I probably would say yes. But I think the wedding we would have would be vastly different from the wedding I used to have in my head.
I don’t think that we are alone here. I think that more and more people are starting to see marriage as a choice rather than a step on the journey of life. My younger sister has been to more weddings than I can count over the last few years, but I have been to only three, and only one of these was my friend. In my friendship group, only one couple are getting married in the near future, and there isn’t even a hint from any other quarters.
I think it is a good thing if people are thinking more seriously about whether marriage is for them. I know that the (honest and hard working) people’s friend David Cameron is adamant that marriage is the best thing ever, that it equals stability, although the divorce rate clearly tells us that isn’t so. But given the amount of money involved, the fact that you are entering into a legally binding commitment and that is costs yet more money to get out, I think it is important to give the matter your utmost consideration. Romance is all very well, but in the end, building a life isn’t all flowers and chocolates. It requires an awful lot more than that.