I’ve half-written and deleted this post about four times in the last few months. You see, it’s a bit of an awkward one. So many people do it – in my life and in other’s – and they mean no harm. They really don’t. But something’s got to be said on the issue.
It will probably resonate with anyone who’s been in a relationship for longer than a couple of years, when I say the following question gets right on my tits: “When are you getting married?” or even better, “Why aren’t you married yet?”
I’ve been with my boyfriend for 15 years. And the longer we’ve been together, the more aghast the enquirer becomes. And the more the question is asked with utter disbelief. Accents on certain words even start to creep in. “So, Becky – when are you getting married?!” and “You’ve been together forever – why aren’t you married yet?!”
It’s worth saying that it’s never even come up with my close friends and family. I have no idea if they’re bursting to pin us down and demand a timeframe for marriage, or if they actually don’t care that much because I’m in a happy relationship and will ultimately do what’s right for me. But it’s never even come up.
Like I said though, whenever someone outside of that group of people asks, they don’t mean to piss me off. People just love a bit of marriage. Hell, me too. There’s nothing better than a beaming friend walking down the aisle or witnessing a partnership still going strong forty years after they made it official.
But people also love the way-things-have-always-been. When pretty much everyone dated, got married and pregnant within a five year window.
But surely it’s obvious that things aren’t so prescriptive now and we’ve all got a bit more freedom – right? Some people decide to get married quickly, some do the five year thing, some live together for a long time before tying the knot, some never even consider it and some get married multiple times. We’re lucky in this day and age. We can choose to do whatever feels right for us.
More than anything though – besides being a bit archaic – asking those questions is just plain bloody rude (with added incredulity or not). And actually no one’s business.
It’s like asking someone why they haven’t had kids yet, which hopefully no one would ever dream of doing. They could’ve been told they can’t get pregnant at all or maybe they’re struggling with IVF at that very moment. Maybe they’re having problems with their partner and don’t want to bring a child into an unstable environment. Maybe they just don’t want kids at all. Maybe they’re having too much fun and don’t fancy waking up every other hour to breast feed through the night just yet. Or maybe they’re pregnant but it’s too early to share the news.
The same goes for asking a presumptuous question about marriage. Maybe someone grew up in a broken home and they don’t value marriage as a result. Maybe they want to see what their partner is like to live with first. Maybe there have been a few problems they’re trying to sort out first. Maybe one partner is desperate to and the other isn’t bothered. Maybe someone’s been stung in a previous marriage. Maybe they’re planning to propose that very night. Maybe they’re skint and can’t afford it. Or maybe they just couldn’t care less about it.
It can be really personal stuff.
Do you know what I’d prefer if people really want to know my relationship plans? Someone casually asking if I think I’d like to get married at some point, rather than when or why I haven’t already – so I don’t feel like a social pariah for not getting hitched when they think I should.
To which I’d answer: “At the moment we’re prioritising saving hard for a house. But that’s ok because I’m already in a really committed relationship and marriage has never been a huge rush for me. But I’d love to at some point. My boyfriend is flippin’ great. Now fuck off.”
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