The Institution of Marriage

I used to think that marriage sealed and consolidated all, your love, your commitment to each other and your future, and then I had a conversation with a best friend who presented another side.

wedding_ringsMarriage to me has always been fantasised as I guess with many women from an early age where you have the big church wedding, reception, colour co-ordinated everything – this grand gesture!  I did it, and yes it was all that I had dreamed about my picture perfect day.  As I grow more into myself, I realise that possibly back then there was an expectation from others – the need to satisfy family, friends, society and to conform to this ideal of what a wedding and marriage should be. So what should a marriage be? Well I know what it’s not, and it certainly isn’t enough to keep people together, anymore – partners for life.

Maybe weddings are just a conspiracy designed by women to get what they want yet again (am smiling!). What woman wouldn’t want a day of being treated like a princess with maybe a flowing gown, tiara and possibly even the horse drawn carriage (almost vomit worthy now – but I’ll take the princess thing!).  So for many women it satisfies the need to plan for many months even years, write countless lists, embed structure and order and for what – one day in many cases.  For their partner or husband intended hmmmm! – Months of agony, expense and the thought of co-ordinating with the flowers or even worse the table décor.

I whole-heartedly agree that in terms of culture and religion, marriage is indeed a necessity – a sanctified union – but what about those with no or very little religious values? Marriage for many is a choice, a progression even an expectation in a long-term relationship – but does that seal of approval make you feel any more for the person you are with, does everything change the day you become legal partners?

I always thought that being married meant that you tried that little bit harder and took your vows seriously.  I even remember promising to ‘love, honour and obey’ even at the cost of having my button piercing removed to appease my future husband, who as my boyfriend hated it (but I had it done anyway!) Am I an obedient woman – definitely not, but it was my choice to have those vows and my pathway choice as a wife to uphold them.

Up until a couple of months ago I was a strong advocate for marriage and the need to be married if you were in a committed long-term relationship. This conversation I had though challenged my ideals and I guess my own insecurities that being married offers stability – a comfort blanket. Quite rightly – what difference does a piece of paper make to a relationship?  Why do you need to be married to prove that you love somebody whole-heartedly and that you want to spend the rest of your lives together?  I guess my only niggle still is that it might be easier to walk away from a relationship where there is no concrete commitment or legality than it is to walk away from a marriage. But thinking about it …..Emotionally no it isn’t, financially it might be!

So the dilemma, and there is always a dilemma – for me, I am still this inherent romantic, the princess that never wants to grow up.  However, after having my fairy tale wedding, times have changed and I have changed. The need to be cocooned in a comfort blanket and validated by society is no longer a concern.  The need to put myself under months of unnecessary stress and planning and the etiquette of seating plans has most definitely been crossed off my requirements list, and the  need to ‘go with the flow’ because that is what is expected – yeah whatever!

So what does that leave and more importantly where does that leave me?  Would I get married again if the opportunity ever presented itself …it would be a consideration, but with no grand gesture, no bells and whistles and certainly no conformity and with very little colour co-ordination.  Would I settle in a relationship knowing that I would never be married to that person – I guess time will tell!  As I have evolved, my perception of marriage has changed and I would have to question – would I give up on somebody that ticked almost every box for the sake of a piece of paper and a ring?

Hmmmm! the piece of paper – no, the sad part for me is the ring; when you come out of a marriage part of you dies and a little bit of your identity dies with it. Not wearing a ring anymore can make you feel naked, almost incomplete declaring to the world that ‘yeah I’m single again!’  You can become exposed, especially if you are in social environments where you might possibly be scrutinised or even worse tagged as ‘fair game’.  I have friends that still wear their rings just to take themselves out of the whole single/dating arena when they go out and socialise.  I have other friends that are married and deliberately take their rings off in those environments and I know some men that have never worn their ring from day one (sometimes the admission of not being single anymore is too hard to stomach).

The ring I guess still does signify a union for me whether it is a hula hoop, ring pull, costs £15 or £15,000 it’s the emotion that is transferred in the giving and wearing of a ring.

So marriage, if it’s for you – go for it and I think it is so awesome that at the time of writing this article 14 countries have now legalised single-sex marriage what a wonderful world we live in sometimes.  But, and this is a big but, if you love somebody and you know that they are your soul-mate, the one, your happy ever after … you really need the institution of marriage to validate those feelings?

Part of me says no, as a result of this conversation ….. However the little girl/princess in me still wants something ….and if a Morgan car could fit into the equation somewhere I am sure it would be my match made in heaven.

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About Sharon Yull

Sharon Yull is an academic, researcher, business consultant and published author of over twenty business and computing books and publications.She is qualified with a BSc, MSc, HND in Business and Finance, PGCE, Fellow of the Institute for Learning and also an Associate of the Assessors Institute. Sharon enjoys reading, swimming, outdoor pursuits, theatre, music and travelling. She is an inherent romantic always there to offer support, guidance and a shoulder to cry or laugh on.
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