Marriage or Mirage?

I’m not opposed to the idea of marriage. I’m just not bothered about it. I’m pleased for all my friends who have tied the knot and I hope they’re enjoying every moment of it… but the concept of marriage bears no significance to me, and I’ve held the same view since I was 16.

Typically the sort of responses I get after sharing my opinion goes a little something like…

“Oh my God why not!?”
“Really??”
“Yeah you say that now…”
“So what’s the point of being in a relationship then?”
“But it’s part of building a relationship with someone… why wouldn’t you?”


These days my friends don’t bother questioning me, likewise I don’t feel the need to explain (they know what the deal is!) So I was inspired to write about this topic after finishing a booked called “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. There was a chapter titled “Thinking about Life” which addressed the link between life satisfaction and marriage over time (refer to the image below.) On the following page he states: “People who decide to get married do so either because they expect it will make them happier or because they hope that making a tie permanent will maintain the present state of bliss.” Not only did this part make me chuckle but Kahneman’s thinking really resonated with me. While his words are still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d take the opportunity to express my non-conformist, female perspective on this particular subject.


I think it’s fair to say that everyone’s trajectory is different and thankfully we all have freedom of choice. Choice over our own narratives and choice over how we show our own versions of commitment. Don’t get me wrong, I hold many traditional values and beliefs but marriage is not one of them. For many of us, it’s the implicit next step in the script of life, a way to display your commitment to each other through a cultural and legal institution. Seriously though, besides the formal paperwork, ceremony and taking someone else’s surname (we don’t even have to do that), can anyone tell me what the difference is between long term companionship and marriage? I don’t get it. I’m not sure if I’m missing a bigger point here?

I spoke to someone about it today and he made an interesting point: “It’s about financial security for the party that earns less. Over time any gains are seen as a 50-50 split, without marriage, they would be prorated.” To which I responded, “So marriage is an investment?” He answered “Principally yes.” — Financial security… it just doesn’t make a great reason for marriage. I’m still struggling to see any benefits. After some thorough research to back up my views, please allow me to share my findings:

Can we skip straight to the honeymoon?
Industry experts estimate the average wedding cost in the UK to be anywhere between £18,000 to £32,000. I say screw the wedding party and put more money towards the luxury honeymoon holiday. I want paradise, cute outfits, tannage, champagne, all the fancy food and pampering sessions every day… until I return. Honestly, there are so many better things to spend the money on… if not a fabulous holiday then what about a loft conversion? A conservatory extension? Garden landscaping?How about investing the money? The list is endless!

It guarantees nothing
According to recent divorce statistics in 2019, 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce. Sorry but I’m afraid marriage isn’t always the finish line for a relationship; neither are kids for that matter. I’m not cynical, I’m just speaking the truth. Everyone knows relationships require a lot of continuous work. You have to sustain them to keep them healthy and worthwhile. The reality is people change, so there’s the possibility that marriages might fall apart.

Cringe
Weddings are planned and few really want to attend. I don’t even know if I’d turn up at my own wedding! 😂 The day is non-stop, all eyes are on you, pointless dresses are worn never to be seen again, awkward family photos are taken, having all of your families in one place sounds like a nightmare, spending the whole day making menial conversations with guests, having to sit through embarrassing or mushy speeches, then feeling knackered out by the end. I can’t.

Social norms
As far as commitment goes, I don’t believe getting hitched is the ultimate expression of love. The reality is that marriage won’t make you love your partner any more or any less, and vice versa. In the earlier days it was expected that one would be married by the time they were in their late 20s or certainly early 30s at the latest. Others would pass judgement if you didn’t meet the expectations. Thankfully we live in different times now, and I merely see marriage as another one of those social stigmas.

The truth is, marriage isn’t for everyone. For some it’s wonderful as well as appropriate. I have a few friends who are in happy and healthy marriages which is amazing! I couldn’t be happier for them. However, in terms of where I stand, I’m quite content examining these implicit life choices and carefully deciding whether I want to buy into any of them.

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