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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

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!
zoje_george
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:16 pm (UTC)
Of my married friends, almost all of them got married at least partly because of visa reasons

And this year, Johnny Trash and I will probably be joining that list. Honestly, if emigrating/residency in another country wouldn't be affected by us being co-habitants, eh, no we probably wouldn't do it.
jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:51 pm (UTC)
WELCOME TO THE DARK SIIIIDDEEEE!

Actually, marrying for visa reasons is ever so much less embarrassing than marrying for getting-religious-parents-off-back reasons. I promise not to mock you. that much.
zoje_george
Mar. 7th, 2005 04:02 pm (UTC)
You can't mock me! I am un-mockable!

I'd have to leave the poor bastard to fend for hisowndamnself if we don't have a marriage certificate. Dammit.
jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC)
I swear I'll do my wifely job - just sit at home become a slob!
I know, I know. you're just doing your wifely job. Hehehehe.

Anyway, what's the status on these plans of yours, anyway? Tell tell tell.
zoje_george
Mar. 7th, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC)
Re: I swear I'll do my wifely job - just sit at home become a slob!
Not telling yet.
jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 05:07 pm (UTC)
Re: I swear I'll do my wifely job - just sit at home become a slob!
HARUMPH.
zoje_george
Mar. 7th, 2005 05:24 pm (UTC)
Are you trying to get me to jinx it?!
Well. ARE you?
jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 05:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Are you trying to get me to jinx it?!
No, NO NO, nevar!!!!

Okay, I'll stop harassing.

Hmph.
pinguin
Mar. 7th, 2005 04:29 pm (UTC)
Marrying for the visa is the *only* fashionable way to do it. Honestly. All the best people do.
zoje_george
Mar. 7th, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC)
Oh! I get to be one of the best people? Cool!
pinguin
Mar. 7th, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. But we need to make badges or tshirts or something. "Married, but in an ironic self-knowing bill-splitting visa-grabbing sort of way".
It's got a ring to it don't you think?
zoje_george
Mar. 7th, 2005 06:20 pm (UTC)
It's catchy!

No hats though, I look stupid in a hat.

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