I can’t seem to escape. Having just recovered from one wedding season— with four weddings under my belt— the save the dates for next year are coming thick and fast. So far, there are five lined up, just in July and August. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. And it can feel like an injustice to empty our wallets every month— or every week— during wedding season for a bachelorette party, an engagement party, a destination wedding. Oh, and the gifts. And it’s easy to write it off to people whining about being single. And yes, I will whine about the amount of money I have to spend on nude drawing classes and tacky boas for as long as I have to participate in these rituals. But the money isn’t really the point— it’s actually about something bigger than that. It’s about acknowledgement and recognition. Something that we as a society give unquestioningly to people who choose to get married, while the rest of us aren’t so lucky.
I’m in a long term relationship. I love my partner, we live together, we talk about and work out the details of our future— but we have no plans to get married. It’s not that I’m against the idea of marriage, really, and neither is she. We just don’t feel the need to prove anything to each other that we haven’t already said privately. Plus, watching a few bridal meltdowns has put me off the idea even more. But by choosing to remain decidedly un-engaged and (gasp) unmarried, it means that we face a constant cross-questioning, a constant skepticism about our relationship. Not from all of our married friends, but from some— and from some of our single friends, to boot.
The problem with choosing not to get married is, as long as it remains an option, people who believe in that convention will be suspicious of you opting out. Even though it should be that everyone just does what they’re comfortable with, what’s significant to them, people are too prone to solipsism. I have friends who, when I explain that marriage just wouldn’t mean anything to us (though I’m glad they’ve chosen to do it, as it does mean something to them), they smile and nod along. But later, they ask again if I’ve changed my mind. They drop it into conversation way more often than is natural. They even ask if I’m any more ‘sure’— as though the reason I’m not getting married is because I haven’t settled into my relationship. It’s insulting to me, to my partner, and to our choices.
I am sure of who I want to be with. I know that I’m happy and I know that my partner is, too. And I’m ecstatic for my friends who choose to get married. Genuinely. I’m so ecstatic that I book hotels, trains, planes, and sponsor portions of their honeymoons. To show respect for their relationship, to acknowledge the choices they’ve made. I just wish they would do the same for me. I can handle missing out on toasters and blenders and money towards a min-moon. It’s just their respect that I want.