I feel it’s necessary early on to say that marriage isn’t even a glimmer in my eye at this point. The idea of getting married within the next few years feels ludicrous to me, even if by this point, my Mum was already engaged and my Nan had been betrothed for knocking on 4 years. I’m not sure if it’s the millennial curse or the shift in culture, but I feel very much rooted in the chadult stage that I spoke about last week, drinking far too much mid-week wine and convincing myself that those lines appearing on my forehead are definitely just dehydration. I am not ready to be a wedded woman. I am no wife.
As the maturity express pulls reluctantly into the period of your mid-twenties, however, you do start to consider marriage as a real and possible prospect. Whereas, in your late teens, it was kind of a distant joke to be both scoffed at and secretly coveted, marriage in your mid-twenties is kinda oh, it really could happen, you know…? It’s less ‘I’m going to ride in on a motorbike wearing a ball gown, with Lana Del Rey crooning sweet nothings as I step towards the doors of Westminster Abbey wearing my one-of-a-kind Louboutins’, and more ‘well I guess if I want to marry this guy and I want to do it within the next five years, the only way I could afford it is if my Dad backdates all of those child maintenance payments he “forgot” to send’. It’s less escapist fantasy, and more bizarre - and actually feasible - reality.
This time last year, if you’d have asked me if I wanted to get married, the answer would definitely have been YES. Of course I want the big dress, the big party, the big bundle of presents and the big, big, bar bill. Of course I want all of my favourite people in one place, celebrating the fact that I was madly in love and ready to hang up my dating dress forever, and of course I wanted to taste test 300 cake varieties just to settle on my best gal Ellena’s banana loaf which is legit my favourite baked good ever.
Blazer - & Other Stories* (similar here)
Tee - Topshop
Skirt - ASOS
Bag - Loewe
Shoes - Bershka
Fast forward to now, though, and I’m kind of realising that maybe I just want to wear a big dress and have a big party and rack up a big, big bar bill without actually getting married? You know, without the legally binding contract which means I’m stuck being someone’s wife for at least a year even if I don’t want to? Basically, the narcissist in me just wants to throw a self-indulgent mega-bash where everybody celebrates myself and my chosen partner, after which I can go home, back to my normal life, free of a lifelong commitment which, right now, I’m not sure anybody can make with complete confidence.
And that’s not criticising anybody who has chosen to or does choose to get married. As it stands, I'm still undecided. I just know myself and I know how much I fear making the wrong decision, so much so that I’m likely projecting this worry of possible regret on anybody who feels that they can make that lasting promise.
Despite previously wanting to get married, I’ve always said I’ll likely get divorced. Even when Will & Kate got married in 2011 and I allowed myself to believe, even if only fleetingly, that maybe I could track down some kind of obscure far-off royal and getting married in the most ostentatious of fashions, I also believed that I’d end up divorcing said far-off royal and become a kooky poor posh person, living in a run down country house in the edge of nowhere. Admittedly as life predictions go, this was a little out there, even for me. I’m not sure the cream of the world’s nobility are often looking for a born-and-bred council estate girl with a penchant for bi-curiosity and an all-too-embraced swear word catalogue, but you know, that’s not what we came to discuss today.
The idea of being married itself, I love. I want to be part of that insider’s club that involves just you and your husband or wife, like a secret society whose meetings are held every evening at 10pm between the sheets. I love the idea of that concrete bond - that promise that you make to one another that says, well mate, this is it, we’re really going to have a good stab at this because actually, I don’t want anybody else’s genitals in my mouth apart from yours. I love the idea of someone being proud to say I’m their wife. Their chosen hunny. Their better half (I don’t care how cringe that is, I still love it). Everything to do with the joining together of two people out of love and adoration and choice speaks to the hopeless romantic in me to no end, but actually doing it? I’m starting to feel like I’d rather have all of the above without having to solidify it by law. That seems so final to me.
The more that time goes on, as well, the more I bristle at the idea of being a wife. I’ve forced my independence with such a blinkered ferocity for such a long time, that the thought of taking somebody else’s name feels like a failure to me (again, this is no criticism against those who choose to get married and take their wife/husband’s name. I feel slightly frustrated that I have to insist my personal feelings aren’t an attack on other people’s, but you know, the internet *shrugging lady emoji*). I know I don’t have to take my partner’s name - and if I get married, I won’t - but even the knowledge that some people will expect me to gets my back up. Maybe I’ve spent too long with my head in old books, soaking up less-than-desirable depictions of marriage for young women, but any admittance into the betrothal club kind of feels like being caught. Like when the excitement of the wedding is over, and the guests have gone home and the dress (es - let’s be real, if it happens there’ll definitely be more than one) is packed away, I’ll just be wifed. Wifed off forever. Wifed off for eternity. Lost to wifedom with other wives who aren’t enjoying enough cunnilingus and for who, marriage isn’t all it was cracked up to be.
I want that bond, I want that connection, I want that promise to one another that exceeds the label of boyfriend/girlfriend, but I’m just not sure if I want it concreted into law by a very very very expensive piece of paper. I’ve seen marriages that have lasted, and couples that have stayed as in love as ever, but I’ve also seen a lot of relationships break down and that slightly ominous 42% divorce rate come into its own, so much so that I’m wondering if I can’t just be in love and happy without making it really difficult for my partner to leave me if they want to. Just because marriage is the expected thing, do I really have to do it? Do I need to? Do I want to?
Of course, bringing things back down to the plains of real life, marriage is certainly not on the horizon for me. Keiran and I have spoken about it a million times over and I go through periods of fake proposing and pestering him to do the same, but considering it as an actual event with an actual date and an actual contract? We’re nowhere near. We’re too busy being irresponsible and discussing whether it’s possible to have sex in the cinema or not, a prospect which I’m sure married couples also consider, but which consequently makes me wonder if you can’t just not be married and have sex in the cinema anyway?
Who knows. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, but as I said, this period of being in my mid-twenties has really thrown up a lot of big life questions for me, and I guess today, on this warm August Wednesday, I just wanted to discuss one of them with you. Let’s just hope that Keiran hasn’t been planning some kind of elaborate and ostentatious proposal, because that certainly could be a-w-k-w-a-r-d…