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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

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.

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