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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

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.
clanwilliam
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:38 pm (UTC)
Thankfully one of my sisters had gone through the whole no engagement ring mullarkey, so I was relatively okay from the family.

For everyone else, as we announced our engagement just a few months before I headed off on a long-distance ride, I just said "mucking out in diamonds, dear? That's *so* passe!"

I occasionally drop heavy hints about surprise rocks and what not, but they're joking ones. He knows that a) it was my decision not to have one; b) even with my wedding ring, I insisted on testing out if I could ride comfortably in it; and c) *I* get to go jewellery shopping with him.

Re the other stuff - there's only one friend (who has just got engaged) who I've hassled about it and that's because it was a standing joke with all their friends and various scurrilous theories were proposed as to why they weren't, when we all knew that they were going to - at some point that suited them.

And as for "waiting for him to ask". Sod that. I asked. Then a bit later, he asked. Then quite a bit later, we decided that we'd better announce the engagement and set ourselves a deadline to do so. (I also formally asked his mother for his hand in marriage, just because I could.)

G.'s commitment to me is no greater or lesser just because we did the whole thing - but it was important to me, and I explained to him why. And then it became important to him as well - we wanted to make that commitment to each other in a way that both families and friends understood (which resulted in a ceremony that a Jewish friend described as a "perfect blend of Quakerism and Catholicism"!)

Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion that the sheer hassle and stress of getting married destroys a lot of relationships.
pinguin
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:43 pm (UTC)
as for "waiting for him to ask". Sod that. I asked

YAY! Me too! I was a work permit bride and he was too embarassed to ask in case I thought he was marrying me for the work permit. So I asked him instead.
pinguin
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC)
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

It takes my breath away how people can ask about it too. For me it's a pretty personal question: I'd consider it a wee bit nosey to ask a mate and really cheeky to ask a mate in front of the their partner. I mean, what if it's a sensitive point in the relationship? Gah.
stellanova
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:39 pm (UTC)
It takes my breath away how people can ask about it too. For me it's a pretty personal question: I'd consider it a wee bit nosey to ask a mate and really cheeky to ask a mate in front of the their partner. I mean, what if it's a sensitive point in the relationship? Gah

Exactly! I would never, ever ask anyone that, especially in public - I mean, for all I know it could be a huge deal to one or both of them.

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stellanova
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