The Meaning of Marriage

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Something that I’ve been struggling to write about for a long time, is marriage.

After attending 4 weddings last year, I really have had the whole marriage thing on my mind for quite a while and what that means to me and to the world in general.

Even historically “marriage” meant many different things in many different cultures… However the most popular societal belief was that it was a way for men to purchase a good woman to breed for him and make his home presentable.

Marriage has always been to a mans advantage – the father got a dowry for selling his daughter, the husband got a slave and breeder.

In fact debutante balls were basically cattle auctions where a young woman was presented in her finery to society, her beauty and dancing talent was on display for possible suitors to later make a bid to the father in hopes to take her.

Over time, this has changed and you would like to believe that marriage is about “love” rather than a woman breeding for a mans lineage to continue.

These days, weddings are a multi billion dollar industry and its not just a case of “getting married” – now we are expected to have an engagement party, bridal shower, hens night and bucks night and then fork out more for a wedding to entertain our friends and family.

And at what cost ? The average wedding is $30K in Australia but more than that, it is often at the cost of relationships. Weddings, in my opinion, bring out the worst in everyone involved. Quite often brides become very self centred because the other alternative is caring for everyone and getting hurt because inevitably someone has an opinion or an issue over something you are doing.

Friends become rude and bitchy because rarely can women get along as it is, but worse when they are lined up in the same dress all trying to prove they are “the better friend” or “know the bride better” and to make peace, quite often the bride will just nod and agree to avoid any conflict.

Guests become judges – from the ceremony being too long, to the food being not to their liking, the dresses, the decor, the venue … Everything is a chance for everyone to share their opinion and quite often it’s not a pleasant remark that leaves the mouth.

Parents are expected to fork out thousands of dollars to help their children get married – even if they don’t agree with the marriage itself, solely because society says a good parent will pay and will shut up.

All in all its one major cluster fuck of stress for one day.

Yet it doesn’t end there. Expectations of married life only continue.

I have a friend who has been married for quite a few years now and she is constantly getting asked when they will have children. Her answer – never.
She doesn’t want to have children, she wants to have a successful career, travel the world, build up her investment portfolio and continue loving her husband. Yet as a society it still seems that it is expected that when your are a wife you must provide your husband a child to carry on his name.

I have another friend who is masters educated, speaks multiple languages, has travelled the world (and no I don’t mean “contiki” travelled) and has published several articles for many successful magazines and publications including Forbes. Yet continuously the one thing that people bring up is that she is in her mid twenties and is single.

One thing that I also often get asked is “when will you get married?”

Let me set this straight – MARRIAGE DOES NOT VALIDATE YOU.

Fuck, Charles Manson is getting married – is he suddenly a “good person” because someone loves him and is willing to make that legal in the eyes of the law?

No… just no.

Who we are as women, how far we have come in society, our ambitions and our goals should not be suddenly surrendered when we get engaged or married.  Nor should any woman who is not in a relationship or has no intention to marry, be any less of a woman.

It seems, once again, that I’m realising that women in general are our own worst enemies.  Few men actually give much thought to weddings and marriage.  It’s women who are judging, bitching and critiquing every last detail.

My biggest regret of the last year was not realising that what happens, happens.  That sometimes you just have to enjoy yourself on the wedding day and stop stressing.  I lost a whole day and night at my best friends wedding solely because I was running around like a goose trying to make sure everything ran right, drank too much because i was nervous as fuck when things weren’t going right, and had to deal with rude bitchy bridesmaids making snide remarks behind my back and then left bawling my eyes out because I realised I hadn’t even spoken to her for more than 5 minutes the whole time.

I had in my head, that this day was to be perfect – it was a culmination of the last 18 months of late phone calls, skype calls, all the plane trips to Brisbane, throwing a bridal shower and hens night the weekend before 1000km south, phoning every last Kmart in Mackay, Townsville and Cairns to find “bridesmaid” and “bride” hoodies for the morning of the wedding, and even running around the day before hand after driving for 14 hours (1000km north) to get to the destination by myself, making sure everything was in place instead of relaxing in the hotel room .. everything we had discussed, was meant to be perfect. 

It wasn’t… and I shouldn’t have expected this – but I always have high expectations and when it is someone I deeply love and care for, when things don’t go to plan, I get twice as angry because I believe they only deserve the very best… and I feel as though I have failed.

Why ? Why did this all happen? Perhaps my expectations were too high. Perhaps the picture I had in my head was unrealistic.  Perhaps some people are ok just sitting by and watching events unfold without stepping up and helping out.

The truth is, I don’t remember much of the day because in between being shunned by a few certain people and running around serving canapes to guests, chatting away to grandparents before the bride and groom arrived and downing as much wine as I could to survive my severe anxiety attacks I was having, I forgot to pay attention to the one day that meant everything to someone I no longer have in my life.  The expectations I had were unrealistic and cost me too highly.

My expectations were set by society because I didn’t know what else to expect.  The ‘perfect day’ is what I thought would happen, and any minor step out of line with the proceedings of the day left me trying to breathe slowly or yelling at the wedding co-ordinator for not doing a better job.

I pinned so much on this one day, that in turn I forgot that a wedding is just a wedding – it is not the be all and end all of a marriage.  If the day isn’t perfectly to plan, it doesn’t mean anything other than ‘shit happens’.

More so, a wedding or marriage doesn’t define who anyone is.  Just because you don’t particularly understand the love or the reasoning, doesn’t mean it is wrong – it just means its different to what you personally would want for yourself.

Getting married is not the be all and end all of any woman’s life, freedom, choices or happiness.  It is just another milestone in this journey of life.

So please, for the love of womankind… can we all just be nice and work towards making marriage not a necessity, not a validation of us as women and stop making weddings such a massive day full of bitterness, bitchiness and judgement?

We deserve to keep moving forward and more so, we deserve our own happiness.

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My Ideal

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About 6 years ago, I sat down with my beautiful friend V and had a discussion that changed my life forever.   V is one of those people who everyone who meets her, falls in love with her warmth and wisdom.  She continuously teaches me how to be a loving person and how to forgive and move forward.

One late evening, I found myself with V at a McCafe most likely having a chocolate frappe and discussing the latest heartbreak we were both recovering from.

Then and there V decided it would be a good decision to stop dating people who failed to meet our standards because one way or another these men wound up hurting us and we were honestly getting too fat from the amount of junk food and chocolate cocktails we consumed over heartbreak conversations.

At first, I was really hesitant to make such a list because I thought surely this list is just going to be too hard for any man to meet.  I knew I had high expectations and also didn’t think very highly of myself at the time so thought that no matter what I put on that list, no man would ever tick all the boxes.

As the years passed, I found myself re-reading the list from time to time and laughing at how impossible it was when I was trying to convince myself that the person I was dating was my life partner.  I also found myself reading it and tried to compromise this list as I thought that maybe just maybe I was too harsh or asked for too much.

Little did I know, what I was doing, trying to compromise qualities and traits that made my ideal man, was actually just belittling myself and telling myself it was ok to settle for second best.

The truth is, someone out there did exist, I just hadn’t met them yet.  I continuously met men who fell short of the mark and told myself it was ok and then in turn ended up getting heart broken.

Here is the original list:

1. emotionally developed/prepared
2. strong mentally and physically
3. happy to spend a whole day in bed with me just dozing in and out of sleep
4. happy to spend all night talking about anything and everything
5. loves to have a great night out without getting trashed
6. looks attractive scruffy (loose hair, not shaved) but also shapes up well when groomed
7. know how to separate work and personal life and doesn’t bring the stress from work home every night
8. doesn’t hold grudges (forgives but never forgets)
9. creatively blessed
10. understands my sense of humour and has a good laugh
11. his smile lights up the world
12. ambitous to succeed
13. enjoys his work
14. understands the importance of independence but know when to depend on me and is there for me to depend on
15. willing to make an effort
16. spontaneous lover
17. passionate
18. loves adventure and new experiences
19. broadens my mind
20. isn’t extremely emotional but isn’t callous either
21. willing to confide in me
22. has a good circle of friends
23. understands the importance of family and unity
24. willing to surprise me without telling me there is a surprise in store
25. honest, genuine and open
26. has an appreciation of history and different cultures
27. a dedicated hard worker
28. Speaks of his exes as ladies – doesn’t refer to them in any demeaning terms
29. Has strong direction on where his career is going
30. Has a car or a reliable form of transport
31. Sticks to his word – does what he says he will all the time
32. Is willing to spend money to have a good time but knows where to draw the line
33. Does not make me sacrifice/cull my shoe collection
34. Has a good taste in fashion (but NOT metro)
35. Appreciates my family and is more than willing to commit to them when he commits to me
36. Will be my best friend first and my lover second
37. Puts his 2 cents worth in
38. Is able to sustain conversation in any social scenario
39. Can converse with a broad range of people
40. Does not question my words and understands it is solely creative outlet
41. Does not swear every second word
42. Keeps up to date with the news and current world affairs
43. Takes the time and effort to make love
44. Does not make me feel used after sex
45. Kisses me everyday before he leaves, and greets me with a kiss
46. Is willing to kiss me/hold my hand/carry me in public
47. Not afraid to ask me/take me on a date and insists to pay for everything
48. Listens
49. Accepts that when I’m hormonal it’s not him or us, it’s just hormones!
50. Has a good taste in music – not just what is on the radio
51. Is willing to talk and work things out, learn from the mistakes, admit fault (where necessary), apologise and move on.
52. Has eyes I just get lost in
53. Doesn’t have any bad addictions or substance abuse
54. Has life experience and has learnt from the past
55. Well educated and always striving to learn more
56. Loves live music
57. Understands the importance of having separate lives but also sharing one together
58. Keeps to his word
59. Is not two-faced
60. Treats me with the utmost respect at home and in public
61. Always introduces me as his partner
62. Romantic like an old-school gentlemen (opens doors, pulls out chairs etc.)
63. Returns calls/messages
64. Makes me feel secure in his feelings towards me
65. Talks to me first about any concerns with our relationship
66. Accepts my need for time/space when I’m angry
67. Thinks I’m beautiful naked and without any make-up on
68. Tells me constantly how grateful he is of little things I do when I go out of my way to make him happy/surprise him.
69. Does not have any baggage with exes
70. Does not flirt with anyone and everyone
71. Challenges me
72. Stimulates my mind
73. Appreciates nature and actively open to bushwalking, 4wd adventures etc.
74. Can teach me things I never knew
75. Has traveled
76. Is able to make decisions on where to go and what to do without my input
77. Likes to take me out to a nice Mediterranean/Italian restaurant with a bottle of red/white wine every once in while but is also up for a quiet DVD night with Pizza and coke.
78. Does not feel sorry for me/my past and understands it has made me the person I am today
79. Does not dwell on the past of what could’ve been
80. Learns from mistakes

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The amazing thing about writing a list like this, is understanding that these are values that you shouldn’t just look for in a life partner, but that you should posses yourself and that you should equally look for in friends.

When we first started dating, I tried my very best to push him away. I made excuses to not enter in a relationship because we met by chance a week after I had my heart shattered. While we dated for about 3 months or so, I continuously led him on – I told several of my friends that this man was everything I had ever wanted but something didn’t feel right…

(A) I wasn’t over my ex
And (b) I believed that I didn’t deserve this wonderful man … That he would soon think of me as I did myself.

The truth is, I called things off early on and told him I just wanted to be friends because I couldn’t stand the thought of not spending time together but I wasn’t emotionally ready to let someone else in.

Weeks passed and it wasn’t until I had a conversation with one of the most inspirational women I know, that things changed. My dear friend Tracey knew I deserved this mans love and attention and that he was so willing to give. She told me to wake up and realize that the only thing holding me back was me – I didn’t want to be happy or loved because I didn’t think I was worthy of it. She asked me what more could I want in a man – and when I couldn’t answer she said, if you don’t take him someone else will and you will always regret not giving it a shot. I am so damn thankful every day for that conversation.

Meeting someone who ticks all these boxes, who loves me unconditionally, who is a man that I adore, admire and look up to every day, who is my best friend, is life changing.

While I continuously dated men who didn’t meet these standards, I was also allowing toxicity in all forms into my life.  I was working in jobs that I hated where I was bullied and harassed. I stood by friends who were disloyal, immoral and two faced.  I let myself believe that I wasn’t worthy of anyone or anything unless it was toxic and unhealthy.  In turn, I let go of  some amazing people unintentionally because they could see how toxic my life was and knew they wouldn’t allow that in their own lives.  c7817b26e44929f43f68e3e115e6a30d

While meeting someone who has treated me like no one else ever has, is such a rewarding time in my life, it is also very bittersweet because I have  learnt quickly how I should have always been treated by friends, family and ex lovers.   It has become obvious who is meant to be in your life – there are those who are simply there for the ‘good times’, those who are only in your life because you’ve never had the courage to let go and those in your life because of the mutual love and respect you share.

These last few months have been hard because I’ve started to see true colours of a lot people who entered my life when I hated myself.  I realised they valued me as much as I valued myself back when we met, which was not very much.  I began to realise that the people you choose to have in your life are a reflection of yourself – and I hated that reflection.  The reflection I wanted was in the man who swept me off my feet.e5fec70b9e2c89e939aeb26775a9c524

I now can see so much clearer when I am with him.  I have learnt that I will no longer settle for anything less than happiness, honesty and loyalty when it comes to all aspects of my life.  His love has taught me that I do deserve good things because if someone this amazing can choose me over everyone else, than perhaps I should start choosing myself first.

The best part of this story: on November 22, 2014 Peter and myself were completely honored to travel down to GC to watch my friend V marry the man of her dreams.  So perhaps, if you find yourself continuously disappointed or let down, you should make a list yourself and don’t settle until your ‘list’ comes along in human form.  There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself – it isn’t selfish it is simply self preservation.  The most rewarding part is, when that person comes along – every single person in your life who adores you, will adore them too and it will feel as if everything is just as it is meant to be.

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