I’m a hopeless romantic. As soon as my heart belongs to someone, I find myself picturing white picket fences and hearing the pitter-patter of tiny feet, but I’m also a realist. Things change, people change. It’s inevitable. The ugly truth is that the factors which cause change are almost entirely out of our control, therefore it is important to understand our core belief system to aid us in making big decisions that apply to our future. In the process of trying to unlearn and relearn everything I know in pursuit for personal growth and truly understand my own desires I’ve had to question everything I thought I knew about love and marriage.
As a female, it’s almost impossible to escape the notion of marriage. From dressing up in puffy Disney gowns to using pillowcases as a veil; to quickly diverting away from aunties and uncles at family events when they raise questions about who we will marry and when.
I started to wonder if marriage was only something I aspired to because society implied I should. As I become more comfortable with accepting and embracing my sexuality, I’ve realised my path will never mirror the visions others initially had for my life. I get to rewrite the narrative. A concept I unconsciously started doing years ago when I quit eating meat.
Whenever I visit family, they always question my choice to be a vegetarian. “You don’t eat any chicken?? No fish??!” I shake my head and wait for the tumultuous concerns about my protein intake to come flooding in. I reassure them I eat plenty of protein and am not malnourished in any way. I understand the concept of my lifestyle choices won’t always resonate with them because they grew up learning different ideas about how to live and survive. The same applies to marriage and family structure. I am fortunate enough to live in a time where I have the option to choose what is best for me – Both in love and in the kitchen.
I sometimes joke about my theory that marriage is like vegetarianism – That you commit to a life without meat, but as soon as you’ve had a few too many tequila shots you start eyeing up someone’s kebab at the end of the night and consider asking them for a cheeky nibble, forgetting the vows that you made.
But on a serious note, I realised that marriage itself was something I had been taught to aspire to, but this narrative for how my future should play out lacked emphasis on the things it should rightfully represent – Love (which I now define as “the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth” – as analysed by Bell Hooks in All About Love). To me, romantic commitments at their very core should be built on mutual support, care, and respect.
Maybe the reason that 65% of marriages end in divorce is because marriage wasn’t historically created with the intention of being built around unconditional love. It was an agreement between families, a protection of wealth, a sense of security to assist in survival, a social construct, an introduction to monogamy as a means of appeasing poor men. Despite ideology around marriage (within the western world) evolving through the years, elements of the core foundations on which marriage was built has inevitably transpired to the modern day.
For heterosexual-women, there is an added pressure to marry whilst they’re young due to the significance placed on everything that youth may symbolise – beauty, purity, innocence, and obedience. In a world built off misogynistic ideals, women are often taught through media representation that they must look or act a certain way to ‘attract a husband’, giving power to the idea that we should feel lucky to be chosen or shown the attention our hearts desire. Whether gay, straight, or anywhere in between it is our responsibility to stop aspiring to marriage and start aspiring to healthy, loving relationships. If that healthy, loving relationship should result in marriage, we are setting positive examples of marriage for future generations however if it does not, we are still showing future generations that happiness and long-term commitment can exist without being validated by the notion of marriage.
Although diamonds are, supposedly, a girl’s best friend, I don’t need a ring, dress, or piece of paper to affirm the commitment I am making to the person I want to spend my life with. It is far more important to place value upon people than material objects. As I enter ‘The Panic Years’, a phrase introduced to me by Nell Frizzell in her humorous autobiography, I realised I should no longer put unnecessary pressure on myself to be anyone’s wife, and neither should you.
Like this post? Subscribe to receive new content directly to your inbox