Cold feet: a cynical look at marriage

Two of my friends have just announced their engagement, sending shock waves through our little group. Some of us are suddenly feeling the need to reassess where we are in our own lives, while others are worried about picking a nice outfit and booking a weekend off work. Me? A lot of eye-rolling and a cynical view on the “institute” of marriage.

Granted marriage is no longer the only option, and plenty of couples cohabit quite happily without ever taking the plunge headlong down the aisle. My mother never married, and I guess that has had a big influence on my view of things, but I love the influence my mum has had on me. Something I really believe in is that you, by yourself, has to be enough! Looking for someone who “completes you” seems pretty insane. You’re not complete without a partner? There’s something not quite right with that! Find someone who compliments you, sure, but if you’re not complete then maybe you are the missing piece of the jigsaw; you can’t just pick a piece from another box and jam it into place and pray that it holds.

I have many issues with marriage. Firstly, the cost. You’ve found The One, the question has been popped, the answer was an elated “YES!” and planning for the big day begins. Surely, the last thing you need is money worries? Let’s spend hundreds, no, thousands on flowers, dresses, invitations, dinner for 200 of your closest friends and family…. you’re about to begin your life together. Spend money on a place to call your (plural) own! That makes sense. Spending money on a wedding just seems unnecessary. I can’t imagine the strain it puts on the relationship. Hardly what you need when you’re setting out on a new chapter of your life.

Then, there’s the argument that a marriage license is just a piece of paper, and why would anyone need a piece of paper to feel secure in their relationship? Being a nay-sayer, I can see the point of this argument. Many would disagree, but there is something about having to make a spectacle out of your love for each other which unsettles me. I think it’s something along the lines of “Who are you trying to convince?”

I like understated romance – a  cuddle in private or a cup of tea brought to you in bed in the morning. I feel uncomfortable with PDA’s and maybe this contributes to me shying away from the idea of ever tying the knot. The thought of having to kiss the lucky guy (ha!) so publicly makes me nauseous. A hundred or so guests, including my family, looking on. Just typing that sentence makes me feel awkward and embarrassed. I’m told I have my own intimacy problems that need working out, but I would say intimacy is fine, it’s “out”-imacy (see what I did there?) that I need to work on.

I wouldn’t like to describe myself as “cynical” (although I may have done so in the first paragraph), but unfortunately I can’t think of a better word. People break up. All the time. Nobody’s safe. And that makes it hard for me to be in a relationship without constantly waiting for the day when I’m not in a relationship again. A good way to live life? No. But for now I’ll say “I don’t” to marital bliss.

Words by Jamye Drohan

Photography by Patrick Burket

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