Guest writer – Albie
Many of my single friends, or friends that have been in long term relationships, are asked the same question over and over again – ‘are you dating?’ or ‘so when do you think he’ll propose’ – all leading to that status in life that so many believe; that men and women should have, by a certain age in their life, be married.
It also makes me laugh because when people find out that I am married and ask what age I was when I got married (23) I get a shocked response of – ‘Oh wow, that’s so young!’ It makes me want to ask the question: when, then, would you like us to get married? People judge my friends that aren’t married in their late twenties but apparently early twenties is also just as bad. I’ve realised you can’t win at this ‘marriage situation’ and so I have found it easier to close my ears off to all the nonsense that surrounds it and whether it is better to be single, better to be married or even better to be divorced and so I’ve just decided: it doesn’t matter.
When I was 17, I met someone who I would go on to share my life with. People would assume I was lucky, people would assume I was the exception but I would just say that in my life, at that time and place, meeting that person just worked and was obviously meant to happen at that time in my life. Did my seventeen year old self dream of a life married to this person: of course! I live in a dream world most of the time and not only was that person the one I hoped to marry and spend the rest of my life with, but he was also that person that was sure that if I ever went into London, I would have the agonising decision of deciding if I still wanted to spend the rest of my life with him if I met Tom Hardy in a bar and he fell dramatically in love with me.This scenario changed quite a lot – Tom Hardy wasn’t always the centre of my attention, but either way, my imagination is extremely vivid and so I definitely had constructed a life with this person in some way.
It was just lovely and even meant-to-be that eventually this person also thought the same thing. I really doubt he thought about it at the age of 18 but maybe around 22, he started to think about it.
If you come from a family whose parents are still together, you are a hard core romantic at heart from years of reading or watching romantic genres or just have strong beliefs in commitment then you may have grown up with a wish to seek out a partner to fulfil those ideals or commitment of marriage that you have wanted for a long time. For me, my parents divorced before I was engaged, I swooned over fictional couples in a book or on the big screen and had no strong beliefs in commitment except that people should be faithful. I just knew that I really enjoyed spending my time with this person and hoped to be able to do that for a long time and for me that came with the choice of marriage.
At 28, it’s a weird one for me being settled in my marriage as I would have spent nearly 7 years of my twenties already married by the time I am 30. My husband and I grew up together and it was our decision and only our decision to do life together, being married too. Although I chose this, I never feel excluded from any of my friends who are not married or feel weird that they may not understand what being married is like. I don’t only spend my time with married people because I’m not one person when I am with my husband and then one person when I’m with my friends – I’m the same person and identify with the same things they do, married or not. If anything, my husband and I are firstly friends who sometimes really like each other and can also sometimes really annoy each other, so he’s just an extension on the friendships that I share with my soul mates – my girl friends.
For us, our friendship and marriage is our sanctuary where we get to live our life together and are comfortable with that, but we also adore our lives separately outside of marriage and our separate friendships. He may be the absolute love of my life but my girl friends are my soul mates and so for me, being married will never mean that they will go away.
We also have our own hobbies, our own interests, our own bank accounts, and our own thoughts but we also have our shared ones too. Living our lives separately as well as together just works for us and I have no judgements on anyone living their life on their own completely or being in their partner’s pocket all the time because it’s not my life and it’s not my relationship to make a comment on.
Some people also assume that when you are married, you need to complete the next step in life. My husband and I promised each other we wouldn’t rush all the ‘stages’ society believes you should go through in a relationship, such as: having children and buying a house etc We decided on holidays rather than buying a house and decided on our careers rather than children and that was our choice, until we decided to change that.
On the ‘children’ note, it bewilders me why people believe they have the right to talk about my ovaries and the cycle that my ovaries should be taking (even if some say it with love) when I just think that if my own husband doesn’t push me to have children even though I know he’d have one tomorrow – why do other people feel they can? I will have a family when I feel ready – as at the end of the day it is my life, my body, my job, my time and my mental health which will change.
Marriage and children should be a personal choice and although I know many say these comments to people that are ‘single’, ‘in a long term relationship’ or ‘married’ they need to remember the long lasting effects that these comments can have on people’s thoughts and how they see themselves. Marriage is wonderful and marriage is hard – it’s something that you work on every day and sometimes when these comments are made, it can make people feel like they are failing in their marriage if they are not doing things the way society believes they should be.
I’m not embarrassed to be married and also have my own life and I am definitely sure that other people are not embarrassed to be single and also have their own life so it saddens me that society spend so much time trying to make people feel bad about both things. I never feel I need to flaunt anything my husband and I have as I realise our relationship is between us (unless, of course, I’m looking good in a photo that’s insta-worthy that he’s in too then I will put that up) but I just feel you don’t need to comment on anyone’s relationship or period cycle or think about anyone’s status as it’s their own choice and it’s their happiness that they can find in their own way. I think focusing on other aspects of people’s lives would be a lot more appreciated as they may want to share those parts more willingly as there’s more to be proud of than just your relationship status and how many children you should be having.