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Saturday, 30 September 2017

Is Marriage a Weird Idea?


Disclaimer: I’m 20 years old, I’m a kid barely out of nappies who knows fuck all about marriage or relationships. So you can save your comments saying ‘why are you writing a post about marriage? You don’t know anything about life!’ Believe me, I’m used to being patronised, it was pretty much my entire childhood. People take you more seriously when you reach 18, even if you’ve had the same life goals or ways of thinking since you were 12.

Muchas gracias...


So, marriage. What’s my view on marriage? From a romanticised perspective I think its lovely; a symbol of (usually) two people coming together and deciding they want to spend the rest of their lives together and stick through the good and the bad. From a practical perspective it’s a neat way of raising children (or is it? Maybe communes are better...) From a legal perspective, you get tax benefits from marriage and a spouse can’t testify against another spouse in court.

My parents are still married, but they’re separated. I say ‘still’ because nearly half of all UK marriages end in divorce. I dunno what the reasons for that are but here are a few speculations: I believe the feminist movement has contributed to the breaking up of the family due to a shift in gender roles. The ‘nuclear family’ model is designed to have a working man and a housewife looking after the children. Not saying I agree or disagree with this, just saying that marriage creates that setting and feminism goes against that as it pushes for women to be working a career as opposed to being housewives. This then makes it difficult for the children, and creates tension between the parents, leading to separation.

Then perhaps there’s the fact that it’s easier to get divorced now as its less frowned upon and is actually legal. In 1923 UK citizens could divorce their spouse on the grounds of adultery; in 1969 the Divorce Reform Act added further grounds for divorce, including the grounds that the marriage has been ‘broken down.’ So really, it begs the question; do people get divorced more because marriages are ‘breaking down more’, or because they can? Back in the 19th century I’m sure plenty of married couples fell out of love with each other, but divorce wasn’t legal and was frowned upon. Like a lot of things this comes back to religion; Christianity heavily supports heterosexual marriage and is anti-divorce.

I don’t disagree with divorce; if two people are no longer happy then why should they be ‘forced’ to stay together just because their imaginary God said so? I do believe like with abortion that divorce should be the ‘last resort’, that you should be sure and go through therapy and try everything before you make the final decision. Sure, it hurts the children, but the children will be in more pain by seeing two parents living together yelling at each other than two parents peacefully living apart and being civil with each other. 

The reason I say ‘is marriage a weird idea’ because does it strike anyone that perhaps the reason divorce happens is because the idea of spending the rest of your life with one person is weird? I mean people change right? People move on, they move around, feelings change. Just because you feel the way about someone now doesn’t mean you’ll feel the same about them in twenty years. I know, I know, that’s just a cynical sceptical thing to say, exactly the kind of thing a 20 year old kid who knows fuck all would say. But that’s my honest thought. You know how when you were in school and people would say ‘we’ll be friends forever’ and in the back of your head you knew it was all bullshit? Well, I did, and it’s bullshit. Yeah, we’ll keep in touch, we’ll stay friends forever, we’ll spend our lives together. These ‘forever’ plans don’t really work out because somewhere down the line your feelings will change, and you’ll start to resent each other, and you’ll regret the fact that you’re tied to one person with no escape.

Ok that was exaggerated. I have friends my age (20/21) who are engaged, or in long term relationships and considering the premise of marriage with their partner. I’m chuffed for them, because I think that’s an incredibly brave decision to make at such a young age. I’m also chuffed because I think it’s sweet and there’s that romantic element of me that trumps the rational side.

Rationally, I think people are crazy to get married before 30. Or at the very least, 25. I have a friend who was with her partner for four years, and they’d planned their lives together and then boom. Her feelings for him randomly shifted. The poor girl would have been married at 23 and filing for divorce at 24.

In the UK now, the average age for a woman to get married is 30, and for a man its 37 (not surprising considering men mature slower than women). They also spend more time with their partner before marriage. See, my take is that whatever age you marry the person, you have to spend a lot of time together and really be sure that you want to be with them and your lives match up. Marriage isn’t just about love, it’s about teamwork, commitment, sharing, compromise – all the things I’m bad at. (I’m destined to be a lonely cat lady, I know. Good thing I love cats).

Noted: you can be with a person long-term or even forever without marrying them. Some people don’t get married because they don’t like the legal procedure and the element of the ‘government’ being involved, or they just feel fine with their relationship without needing to sign a piece of paper.

It also makes sense for the man to be older than the woman due to maturity. This is something else I’m going to address:

Reader, what is your take on this? Some say ‘two/three years age gap is the limit.’ Others say ‘it doesn’t matter as long as they love each other.’ What do you think? Is it crazy that Trump is in his 70s and his smoking hot wife is in her 40s? At first glance I think ‘ew, what’s the appeal? He has to use Viagra to get it up! Oh right, he’s rich and the president of the US.’ But at second glance, my liberal mindset goes ‘if they’re happy then what does it matter how old they are?’

Age is a funny one. There’s no way I’d feel comfortable being with a guy aged 30 at this age. He might want to settle down and have kids, and I can barely decide what I want for dinner. (Take out I can’t afford! Yay!!) My ideal age for a partner (right now) would be anywhere from 20-25. If I really liked the person of course age wouldn’t matter (unless he was 12, then I’d be a convicted paedophile), just like if someone is ugly as fuck you still love them; to you they become Cinderella or Channing Tatum.

Some girls do prefer older guys. Growing up I looked young for my age and I had low self esteem. I assumed most guys thought I was a baby (didn’t heavily attract male attention till I was 15; funnily enough when I started dying my hair) and there was no way a guy my age would want me, let alone someone older. Of course my friends were all tall and some were more curvaceous than I am now and they got older guys hollering at them. I once heard (well I read it in Malcom X) that the ideal age for a man’s woman should be half his age plus seven. So if he’s 30, she should be 22. If he’s 60, she should be 37. Later in the years it starts getting a little fucked up; why would a man want a woman young enough to be his daughter?

I don’t know. Who cares. Let people live and let be. Speak the words of wisdom, let it b, let it c, let it defghi

What’s your take on marriage? Are you married? Do you think marriage is just a piece of paper, a symbolic tradition, or a wonderful way of showing love and commitment to one person forever? Are we better off living in communes and raising kids altogether rather than being stuck in the nuclear family model? Does age matter in a relationship? Lemme know below...

(A related post: Is monogomy natural? http://www.thezarinamachablog.co.uk/2017/09/is-monogamy-natural.html)

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5 comments:

  1. i'm 25 (turning 26 on november 4th) and tbh i'm apathetic to marriage and if two consenting adults want to do it fine i agree with a lot of what you've written here

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    1. Cheers xx I think tbh some people get married because they think that's what society 'expects' of them when they're happy not to and to just stay in a relationship with their partner. I have friends whose parents aren't married and they're happily together.

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    2. agreed, i also think for some people it's that they don't want to "die alone" (though that's not a good reason to get married imo)

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  2. I think the reasons for divorce have been oversimplified here, relationships are very complex things. No two divorces are the same and I think bringing feminism in to it is dangerous ground. Feminism is about equality and freedom to choose, not about changing gender roles (even if that is an outcome). I think it's more that we simply have more freedom nowadays to make choices about marriage. As you say we are no longer forced to suck it up with someone we're unhappy with. You're right that people change but I think if you are in the right relationship you change and adapt together. That's exactly the point of a relationship, it's all about compromise and learning and accepting each other's flaws. The idea that is portrayed in Disney of soulmates etc is nonsense if you ask me.

    Relationship ages is a weird one. I'd have said I wouldn't date much older than me before my current rrelationship but my partner is 32 and I'm 25. I'm not sure it's about men being more mature (not in all cases anyway) everyone thinks my boyfriend is same age as me! For us it's more about shared values and perspectives on what we want from life and how the world works. We're both big kids at heart. Without those fundamentals I'm not sure any relationship can work long term.

    I agree when it comes to waiting for marriage, I think you need to be with someone for years and live with them before committing to marriage. My parents were together 10 years before they got married! I think I'll follow their approach! Besides there's no rush, you've got your whole life to live, what's the point in getting married so soon?

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    1. I agree that marriage and age is more about shared values and perspectives; that's a good way to put it. Exactly, some people rush into marriage - a friend of mine's cousin was with their partner for 10 years before marriage. Not saying everyone should wait that long, but if you can't stay with a person for a lengthy time how are you going to know if you're compatible enough to stay together?

      The 'soulmates' thing is very romanticised in Disney films and especially rom-coms, but they are 'escapist' films and unfortunately media can influence us subconsciously into taking those things literally.

      I disagree with feminism not being about changing gender roles as that is actually one of the core aims of feminism, about breaking down gender roles. (Not saying that's good or bad, just pointing it out). Some strands of feminism are about choice and equality; others are about female supremacy. If you look at the feminist movement around the 60s-80s, it was very anti-housewives (and you could argue anti-marriage although I don't think the main core of feminism is to get rid of marriage) with slogans like 'housewives are unpaid slaves' and 'don't cook dinner, starve a rat today.' Some (I must stress that as it's such a wide and divided movement) feminists claim that marriage and the nuclear family is oppressive to women. I can see their point; 'oppressive' is a very strong term but certainly some women may have felt restricted in their marriages before the option of divorce. It's a bit complicated, because if you were to look at the suffragettes, they were campaigning for votes and property rights, but then 2nd wave/3rd wave feminists have been more anti-marriage. Then again, Helen Gurley Brown (the creator of Cosmopolitan) was a feminist and was very pro marriage and a career - she coined 'having it all' as a job and a husband. So quite complicated indeed; the feminist movement is just all over the place.

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