?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

ding dong the bells are gonna chime

So the other night in the Stag's, a friend said something about wanting her boyfriend to propose before she was 35 and started joshing me and P about when P was going to make an honest woman of me, etc. She certainly didn't mean to be obnoxious, but I found it slightly irritating. And no, not because it touched some secret, instant-marriage-craving nerve. Because it seemed to be based on a bizarre expectation of what women want. And what we want is for our boyfriends to ask us to marry them, the sooner the better.

Lest anyone misunderstand my feelings here, I must say that I am, very definitely, not against marriage - as anyone who has heard me squee with delight at the announcement of my friends' engagements will know. I'm against the idea of traditional marriage, yes, and I'm against what marriage has meant for women throughout history. But I don't see any connection between a woman being essentially sold to her father's friends as part of a land deal (as was commonplace in Ireland all too recently) and the happy marriages of my friends who have made their own, new sort of marriage. A sort of marriage which is about loving commitment to each other rather than the female half being the Angel in the House who's given up all autonomy to her husband.

However, what I am bewildered by is the assumption that, as a 29 year old woman in a stable, happy relationship, I am automatically dying to be married as soon as possible, and that I think my boyfriend is somehow to blame for not asking me yet. The whole thing seems such a bizarre, Cosmo way to carry on - and view gender roles - that I am amazed that someone in my social circle could even bring it up. Has anyone else actually encountered this sort of thing outside crappy magazines? And should I expect more people to start asking me when P and I are going to "give us all a day out"? Don't worry, I don't suddenly feel under pressure to oblige, but I am still somewhat aghast at the whole thing. Not least because I don't particularly like getting oddly defensive about my currently unmarried status during a nice night out in the pub.

Comments

( 66 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
leedy
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:03 pm (UTC)
Has anyone else actually encountered this sort of thing outside crappy magazines?

No, I've been on the receiving end of it as well, though not as much from my immediate social circle. I think the last time was from Bandmate Simon's fiancée, though in fairness to her she had just gotten engaged that day, was a tad tipsy, and was, I think, So Excited About Marriage That She Thought Everyone Should Do It - also I think it was more "Why are you and B. not married?", not "Why has he not popped the question?", which I would have found a lot more irksome. The time before was from a former classmate of B's at a wedding we were both at, and she not only kept asking me why he hadn't proposed, that I had a great catch there, etc., but also kept asking him. We were on the verge of announcing our engagement then and there in the hope that it would shut her up.

pinguin
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC)
Since I got married I do sometimes look at couples and wonder if/when they will get married, when the thought would never have crossed my mind before. I'd never say it though, and it's more a vague interest than a burning need to see all my friends married off.
Only one person ever asked me "should I be buying a new hat?" - my old flatmate, who made up for it by asking me every time we met up. Hum. Not that it should make any difference but it needled me less because she's a Moslem and we were kind of both fascinated with how different these things are for us.

The idea of girls in their late 20s hanging on for the Big Question is particularly horrible. I *guess*, if someone is straight and wants to have kids and be married first then there is a certain time pressure on a woman that isn't so much on a man... I had a mate at uni who had calculated that to be able to meet someone, have a couple of fun years, get more serious, get married and then get pregnant in a time she was comfortable she would have to meet her boy by the age of 25. I understand where that sort of counting comes from but I think it's guaranteed to kill a relationship stone dead.

Equally repulsive is the idea that by agreeing to marry a guy you're doing him a favour. How many people were shocked when I hadn't managed to extort an engagement ring out of P (my P, not your P - christ this is confusing)? Despite the fact that we were both skint when we got engaged, and I don't actually wear jewellery apart from the wedding ring. But my (male) colleague at work spelled it all out for me: apparently you need to get a big rock at the engagement, a nice wedding ring and then an eternity ring for having the first baby. Or maybe you could, you know, get married and have kids because you want to, regardless of bribes?

I have to share my great comedy moment though. When we told our flatmate we were getting married he was all like "oh wonderful! But you have to start your family right away! No time to lose Sharon, you need to start right now". Uhuh.
stellanova
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:30 pm (UTC)
I have to share my great comedy moment though. When we told our flatmate we were getting married he was all like "oh wonderful! But you have to start your family right away! No time to lose Sharon, you need to start right now". Uhuh

Ha! What an, um, original way of congratulating someone....

But my (male) colleague at work spelled it all out for me: apparently you need to get a big rock at the engagement, a nice wedding ring and then an eternity ring for having the first baby. Or maybe you could, you know, get married and have kids because you want to, regardless of bribes?

Exactly. The whole engagement ring hype makes me physically sick.

Also, I too sometimes vaguely wonder whether my friends who are in long term relationships will get married. I think it's only dodgy if you're assuming that they're going to get married, and that if they don't then there's something wrong.
(no subject) - clanwilliam - Mar. 7th, 2005 02:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pinguin - Mar. 7th, 2005 02:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pinguin - Mar. 7th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stellanova - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - biascut - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeejeen - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - theodicy - Mar. 8th, 2005 08:32 am (UTC) - Expand
jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:48 pm (UTC)
And no, not because it touched some secret, instant-marriage-craving nerve.

Oh, come now. Are you suuuuuuure?

Meanwhile, AAARGH AND BLARGH AND YARGH! Yes, I've encountered it outside of magazines. Like, all the time. And it's funny, because so many of my friends actually want to be married (though in the way your friends are, not in the traditional way), and I don't, but I'm the only one who is.

The other night, I was sitting around with two late twentysomethings, girls who've been in their relationships for four and five years, respectively, and of course, we started talking about marriage. I'm always always surprised by the answers I get when i ask people about their opinions of marriage. I asked them this question: "What do you think of when you think of the word "wife"? And what makes you want to be one?" (because they both do)

One of them said that "wife" means security: if she is a wife, her man won't leave her. (EEEK!)
The other said that "wife" means that you hvae someone to take care of, who also takes care of you, and that you can just enjoy doing all those things like making dinner and doing the washing up and stroking your partner's brow, because you're a wife, and you aren't just playing at house anymore!

I'm just rambling now. But I thought I'd share those two little snippets.

Of course, they asked me the same question, and my answer was "oppression, patriarchy, drudgery, misery."
biascut
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:08 pm (UTC)
Of course, they asked me the same question, and my answer was "oppression, patriarchy, drudgery, misery."

Oh Jenn. I love you.
(no subject) - jeejeen - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stellanova - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeejeen - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hfnuala - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeejeen - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pinguin - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeejeen - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pinguin - Mar. 7th, 2005 04:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zoje_george - Mar. 7th, 2005 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeejeen - Mar. 7th, 2005 05:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
clanwilliam
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:50 pm (UTC)
Also, don't even *start* me on the "got married, when are you having kids" routine.
yiskah
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, how timely! Just last Friday Mark got a lecture on the importance of marriage from a 20-year-old man. AHAHAHAHAHA. I was not there, which is probably a relief, as I'm not sure how I would have reacted, but when Mark reported the conversation back to me, we noted that in all his urgings, the 20-year-old in question did not once ask how I felt about marriage, and made the assumption that we wanted children, and that we wanted to share financial resources. Um, no, on both counts.

Mark and I have been together for longer than many of our friends who are married, and so we do get asked occasionally if/when we're going to tie the knot, but everyone (aside from the 20-year-old) seems perfectly happy when we tell them that we have no plans to. And frankly, if I get asked by my friends about marriage plans, I have no one but myself to blame, as I did go through a phase where I was quite keen on the idea. However, this was at a time when I was quite insecure in the relationship, and now that we're living together and things are good, I have absolutely no interest in the whole marriage thing.

Of my married friends, almost all of them got married at least partly because of visa reasons - they're all in love, and they probably would have done it eventually anyway, but they did it sooner than they would have because they were from two different countries and it made things easier. I do get asked, when talking about our plans to relocate to Australia, whether I'm planning to marry Mark for the sake of the visa, but thankfully Australia is quite liberal in terms of offering permanent residency to people in de facto relationships, and getting married wouldn't make things any easier.

Of all my close female friends, I can only think of one who is hanging out for her boyfriend to propose, but she's always been a lot more traditionally-minded than the rest of us; besides, she doesn't want him to propose for a few years yet, and she's been living with him for a coulpe of years, so it's not like she's ridiculously traditional. Like you, I'm certainly not anti-marriage FOR OTHER PEOPLE; I recognise that for some people it's a meaningful statement, and all the weddings I've been to have been great fun. But I really don't want to do it myself.
stellanova
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:11 pm (UTC)
we noted that in all his urgings, the 20-year-old in question did not once ask how I felt about marriage, and made the assumption that we wanted children, and that we wanted to share financial resources

Gah! See, that's what annoys me - this assumption that of course the women automatically want to get married, and it's the men who have to be persuaded. It's like the idea of an equal partnership doesn't exist. I'm not even anti-marriage for myself, actually. I just don't feel any pressure or need to do it right now. And like you, I don't mind if my friends casually ask about it either - it's just when they assume I'm gagging for it that I object!
(no subject) - zoje_george - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeejeen - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zoje_george - Mar. 7th, 2005 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Are you trying to get me to jinx it?! - zoje_george - Mar. 7th, 2005 05:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Are you trying to get me to jinx it?! - jeejeen - Mar. 7th, 2005 05:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pinguin - Mar. 7th, 2005 04:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zoje_george - Mar. 7th, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pinguin - Mar. 7th, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zoje_george - Mar. 7th, 2005 06:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
barsine
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC)
Who was this friend? (And also, please clarify for the non-Irish that we don't actually know anyone who was sold to their father's pals for land (apart from the woman in Sold Into Marriage, a fine book published by my former employers!
stellanova
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:06 pm (UTC)
Hee! I suppose I did say " all too recently", but by that I meant "40 years ago". Actually, technically I do know someone who was more or less married off - my grandmother's sister was basically married to her father's friend, not for land but because she apparently was "too wild" when she was up in Dublin working in the civil service. That was in the '40s, though.
(no subject) - clanwilliam - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barsine - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stellanova - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hfnuala - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yiskah - Mar. 7th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - clanwilliam - Mar. 7th, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hfnuala - Mar. 7th, 2005 05:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - missbassey - Mar. 8th, 2005 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
hfnuala
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC)
Alex and I used to get it loads. Especially the couple of years where we seemed to constantly be going to weddings. It never occured to anyone that it might not be a question of 'not yet' but actually 'not ever.' I think I've made it clear enough often enough what my feelings on the question is that it's clamed down now, though.

It's not only sexist in the attitude that all women want to be married, but also that men have somehow to be coaxed or bewitched into it. Like they aren't the ones who get the longer lifespan out of it.

What amused me recently was discovering that one of my workmates assumed that Alex would marry me if it wasn't for my silly ideas. He didn't seem to get that maybe this was something we'd discussed and we shared compatible views.
zoje_george
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:11 pm (UTC)
I think it depends on your circle of acquaintance. The dude and I hardly ever get the "when are you gonna make an honest woman of her" lines, especially since my grandmother isn't around to say it. But we're also a decade older than you.

Oh and thanks for earworming me.
stellanova
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:14 pm (UTC)
Heh heh heh. "Get me to the church on time!"

Oh, bollocks, now I've earwormed myself.
(no subject) - zoje_george - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeejeen - Mar. 7th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - slemslempike - Mar. 7th, 2005 04:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stellanova - Mar. 7th, 2005 04:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
biascut
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:15 pm (UTC)
My second Seely friend got engaged at Christmas, and is now eagerly waiting for the third announcement. Stinker bears the weight of this pressure, as I am considered a Lost Cause. Or, at least, too freaky to predict. Hurray.

I was just saying to yiskah the other weekend that my cousins and I have a terrible record when it comes to marriage: five of them in their thirties, including a 39 year old with three kids and her sister who's pregnant for the second time, and the other eleven of us all over 22, and not a single wedding to show for ourselves. My Grandma Mac had a bit of a moment about having great-grandchildren and no weddings, and I know my Grandma T is highly relieved that there haven't been any illigitimate great-grandchildren on her side. But there's still no marriage pressure, which is lovely. Actually, there's still marriage-reverse-pressure: my mum told me when I was eleven that she'd disown me if I got married before I was thirty, and has never relented on that.
stellanova
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:35 pm (UTC)
Only one of my cousins (who's in his thirties and got married last year) has tied the knot or indeed had kids. There's no family pressure at all for me, thank God - and I didn't realise there was any social pressure until Friday!
lolamoz
Mar. 7th, 2005 04:03 pm (UTC)
should I expect more people to start asking me when P and I are going to "give us all a day out"?

Ah go on, take everyone out to Bray!

I've been in those awkward husband/babbies (not babies!) conversations more often than I'd care for myself. Most recently today, when one of my 5 year old students asked me today if I had any children. She was shocked when I said I didn't, and asked me "Not even a little one?!" Ok, so that was a hilariously non-confrontational one, but still...
stellanova
Mar. 7th, 2005 04:14 pm (UTC)
Bwahahaha! I don't think I'd mind it so much coming from a 5 year old, although it shows that you're never safe from that rubbish.
(no subject) - theodicy - Mar. 8th, 2005 08:37 am (UTC) - Expand
socmot
Mar. 7th, 2005 04:15 pm (UTC)
Even I get the "when are you going to find a nice girl and settle down" lark the odd time. Especially as I'm seen as the "third most eligible" on my mothers side of the family - the first two being married already. It's said lightheartedly enough though, but I do detect an undercurrent of pressure there...

What really annoys me about the whole marriage thing, especially in Ireland as it seems to be a bigger deal here when compared to Irish friends and non-Irish friends is the trappings that surround a marriage - the party and drinking etc etc etc. It makes me want to puke, and the amount of money spent on such things, I feel, borders on the immoral. The last wedding I was at cost at least €20,000 to organise, never mind the seriously expensive honeymoon. And all that to watch people get drunk and the best man make a deeply insulting comment "now that he's got her, he can mount her on the mantlepiece" (yes, I'm serious - the supposed joke is that the groom is a footballer with trophies...ho ho ho)about the bride that nobody really seemed to get.

I'm not anti-marriage at all, and could see myself married some day, but not with a massive bash to show off to people. Family and close friends, followed by dinner in a restaurant will do just fine.
alicetiara
Mar. 7th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
Maybe the marriage pressure is worse in the US because I definitely feel it, all the time, and if you think it sucks to be pressured into marriage when you are in a relationship, think of how it feels when you're single! I seem to be considered somewhat of a freak, being 28 and not at all coupled, with very little interest in finding a long-term relationship.

The marriage industry is out of control here. Do people in your neck of the woods regularly spend more than $US 10K on a wedding? I doubt it. One of my friend's sisters spent thirty thousand dollars on her wedding. My richest friend is getting married this summer and it involves a wedding shower in northern Washington, a bachelorette party in Vegas (which is $200 not counting plane fair) and then a huge wedding for three hundred in a vineyard in St. Luis Opispo (CA). Granted, I can't WAIT for it, but it's going to be a little outrageous I think.
radegund
Mar. 7th, 2005 10:59 pm (UTC)
Do people in your neck of the woods regularly spend more than $US 10K on a wedding? I doubt it.

Yes, is the short answer. Last I heard, the average Irish wedding cost about €22,000, which is $29,000. (I got married last month; we spent considerably less than the average.)
jinxremoving
Mar. 8th, 2005 01:54 am (UTC)
y'know ... nobody has asked me when i'm getting married since i was about 12. not even when i was living in sin.

i guess i just don't seem the marrying type?

(it certainly saves on the tiresome conversations.)
theodicy
Mar. 8th, 2005 08:39 am (UTC)
Still can't believe I'm married. I don't do much of the traditional wifey stuff. Praise the Lord. I do like to fuss over the Beloved, but then he fusses over me, and most of the time we just sit and read and write and are geeky together. If we have a sprog, fine. If not, then not.
stringy
Mar. 8th, 2005 09:12 am (UTC)
I've never had much pressure in that regard, usually if people ask and I tell them I'm not ready, or not sure I want to, they chime in with a horror story about some awful marriage they know about and tell me it's better to be single than unhappy. I think I've been pretty lucky, but maybe I've scared off the traditionalists before they got around to asking me :)

I don't like the fixation with weddings rather than the relationships they're supposed to be for, but I look at it this way: a wedding is a way of saying that your relationship has made you both very happy so far, and you both want to keep it going as long as possible. And that's something worth celebrating, it's worth gathering a bunch of people you care about to share a meal with you and say a few words about it, and maybe dance around for a while :)
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
( 66 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

fat pony like thunder
stellanova
The Monkey Princess

Latest Month

July 2009
S M T W T F S
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Cindy S.