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.