The way relationships are developing is drastically changing. It seems the norm is to move in together skip marriage and go straight to having children, the concept of ‘bastard’ no longer being a taboo or even recognised being in modern society.
I find it strange that people are prepared to create a permanent physical and emotional bond with their partner through having children but when it comes to the commitment of marriage they avoid it all costs.
If you are devoted to a person in every aspect of your life then why the fear of getting married? Surely it would be beneficial to show the world your commitment, the label ‘husband and wife’ scares off unwanted attention from other men and women unlike ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’. Moreover it comes across as a more serious and dedicated relationship, one with greater depth and maturity.
As somebody who is soon to be wedded I am tired of the pitying patronising looks from the anti-marriage gangs when I tell them of my news; singletons mourning the lost bed space and anticipated weight gain on my behalf whilst the long-termers barrage me with dizzying figures of expenses and divorce rates.
These fruitless shallow attempts at discrediting marriage reveal the root of people’s negative attitudes. Physical appearance, having to compromise…these are just offshoots stemming from the premise of selfishness and make lousy excuses, particularly when work pressures, education, aging and other unavoidable forces cause people to sacrifice the less important elements of their life, vanity being one of them. Another equally flimsy attack is cost. The grand venue lavish honeymoon and other trimmings are nice if you can afford them but not a requirement, the baseline cost totaling around £100. ‘£100 for a piece of paper?’ is the usual response, as if understating marriage in a flippant manner somehow diminishes the importance it holds in society. Whilst this somewhat immature outlook is to a degree understandable from single people or those cohabiting without children, it is irresponsible of those who have made the conscious effort to create a family to adopt this stance.
Marriage is generally perceived to be the official way of showing your commitment; once you’ve taken this step people know it’s the real thing, giving a degree of finality to your relationship.
It is this finality that people fear, they fear never being able to have another partner, which begs the question why bother with a long-term relationship in the first place. It’s the same reason why I disagree with stag and hen doos that justify strippers and sleazy one-off nightclub indiscretions because ‘its their last night as a single man/woman’. The fact that the soon to be husband or wife is still being considered ‘single’ really highlights the difference in how individuals in married and cohabiting couples are viewed.
Maybe its the God factor that puts people off. A line of argument that I’ve found to be popular with atheists is that marriage is defunct in today’s society, ‘It’s an old tradition from the dark ages used by the Church to control the masses, as modern freethinking people it is no longer needed.’ They need to go and read a bit more. Marriage is not a christian construct; forms of marriage have existed for thousands of years in many ancient tribes and civilisations. It is true that society as a whole is developing and moving away from religion, but that does not mean all religious teachings are outdated, for example treating others as you would like to be treated is, in my opinion, the best philosophy to live by and its sad that so many young people are forgetting this message as they amuse themselves with the likes of ‘happy slapping’. Whats more there are many non religious couples tying the knot and a significant number of studies showing the benefits of marriage, in particular the rippling cohesive effects it has on families and society as a whole.
Perhaps the problem is that the reality just doesn’t live up to our high expectations. The film industry in particular has warped our perception of married life, boyish comedies encouraging adultery and the ‘another one bites the dust’ attitude, whilst chick flicks promote the one and only soul-mate happily ever after ending. These are two very different incompatible fantasies so its little wonder that people are having an increasing number of relationships and divorce is more frequent. Moral and sexual liberisation also have a role to play, with the focus now shifting to satisfying one’s own animalistic appetites, websites openly acting as mediums for those seeking one night stands, ‘sugar daddy dating’ and other unimaginable scenarios which were once looked on with disgust.
That’s not to say that marriage is destined for everyone, in fact this is where the increasing divorce rate problem lies; too many people enter marriage with the wrong mentality. They have the mindset of a teenager, mistaking their feelings for love only to regret the relationship developing so quickly once the initial infatuation has worn off. Many people flit around, addicted lust, moving on when a more attractive proposal walks by. Worse yet are those who marry due to an unplanned pregnancy, as if doing so eliminates any religious or perceived shame associated with having a child out of wedlock.
Religion has a large role to play with variety of views on matrimony, the stereotypical wedding being between a man and a woman in a church, which deters people for a number of reasons, one of which has received a great deal of attention in the press of late. The general prohibition of homosexuality in the monotheistic faiths is problematic to same sex couples who are equally devoted to their partner and their religion. Whilst their outrage is understandable they too need to accept that everyone is entitled to their own interpretation of the faith they belong to; vilifying religious leaders who disagree with gay marriage in an attempt to force them to do otherwise is equal to forcing gay people to be straight. In any case there are liberal members of these faiths who are prepared to conduct wedding ceremonies for same sex couples so efforts would be better spent contacting them.
A further perceived negative aspect of traditional religious marriage is the oppressive effect is has on women, taking away their independence and burdening them with domestic and child rearing duties.
You only have to look at married women today to see this is not the case, many women have careers and fathers are increasingly taking up paternity leave. Regardless of marital status it is usually the case that when a child is born one parent spends more time at home, often its the mother as she needs time to recover and for the baby’s biological needs. To see this as inequality is absurd. Die-hard feminists feel that even the tradition of wearing ‘white’ is symbolically oppressive, which is just oversensitivity to the point of ridiculousness. Most women in the U.K are sexually active, have had several partners before marriage and wear whatever colour wedding dress they desire: the white wedding dress is simply an old western custom that once represented sexual purity, which bears no significance in today’s society, indeed in Asian culture brides wear red as a sign of good luck and prosperity.
It can clearly be seen that most of these pretexts are merely disguises for the inability to truly commit. What people fail to see is that the fear of commitment is independent of marital status; a relationship without true commitment is ultimately doomed, the only difference between ‘breaking up’ and ‘divorce’ is that the latter comes without the insurance of a nicer minimal-discomfort cop-out.