There is a Weddingcratic Oath amongst couples that your wedding day is the “Happiest Day Of Your Life”. It is also a blatant lie, no doubt originated by married couples in the 100s to encourage young people to marry since, through wedding planner documentaries and our real experiences (as bride, groom, or participant) we now know that it is actually the Most Stressful Day of Your Life, and only the culmination of a long series of Stressful Days no one would wish upon their enemy. That snapshot? You know, the one of the couple beaming as they stand close together on an anonymous lawn, the picture of All That Is Good In The World? It’s the biggest lie of all.
In a marriage, things are supposed to progress from the wedding day –not regress. As a guy friend of mine once put it, whilst arguing why he would divorce his wife for putting on weight, “I took her as she was –she’s not supposed to change, and change the rules.” Yet, change is the Constant of Life. People WILL grow, physically, mentally as well as emotionally, notably through parenthood. They’re supposed to evolve –I’d go as far as to say that we’re programmed to evolve. So ‘taking someone as they are’ on their wedding day (not on any other) actually implies acceptance of the fact that that someone will change. That couples do not realise the fact is perhaps reflected in the huge change that the institution of marriage has suffered over recent years.
The truth is coming out, however, the way it usually does, not only through shockers such as 72-day marriages, but also by the social manifestation of any number of excuses for Not Getting Married, nowadays. Couples apparently need to ‘test drive’ their relationship by living together first, to see if the niggling doubts they might harbour will go away. If the fact that one is messy, is a workaholic and doesn’t cook will not run a partner off, parents may have some hope for a wedding taking place –but only after the couple has additionally test-driven having a child… or two.
At this point, a reasonable person might wonder why a wedding would ever be undertaken, since all of the components of a marriage are already present. Laws, as they are supposed to do, have evolved with and adapted to this social phenomenon of men not buying the cow with free milk amply available. They are helping couples to develop new reasons for not getting married, by protecting each of their interests and their offspring, through something called ‘Common Law Partnership’ rules and regulations –which are basically a new set of marriage rules. If it makes couples feel better to be married under a title that is not ‘Marriage’, I guess the Law is happy to accommodate them. A Swedish man I corresponded with briefly virtually told me that this is the status quo in Sweden, where couples can live together as man and wife for over a decade, and never take that final step.
Ironically, separation after 12 years of non-marriage is just as chaotic as going through a divorce, except even more so, since it must be determined who owns what before each Single Person can carry away what is rightfully theirs. People forget that marriage not only unites, but also protects.
I argued to my guy friend that, if one was willing to take someone through sickness and health… would he divorce his wife for getting so ill that she became a paraplegic? He was forced to change the subject, because his answer was ‘Yes’, and he didn’t want to seem shallow, which he is. And many others are. In this day of instant gratification, a non-functional partner is an inconvenience. So if he comes back from the war with mental problems, perhaps the wise thing to do is to let him deal with them alone, while we look for greener pastures. Our instinct for self-preservation now includes social preservation, and is more alive and well today than it has been since our days of discovering fire in the caves. Girls want men who make money, and guys want hot girls. That either business or the economy might crash, or her looks fade, are not the stuff of the Perfect Wedding Day Snapshot.
Divorce is the instant remedy for THAT. Someone better will surely come along. It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s survival.
Perhaps, then, it IS best that Marriage be reserved for those people who truly understand its implications, and the real Commitment demanded of them. Those willing, even, to go through an analysis, either on their own, or through pre-counselling, to understand how they will conduct their relationship in such a manner as to make it a lifelong friendship. The rest can deal with their Common Law Partnerships and Pretence. I and YOU, should look for the Real Thing.