real life

"By current Western society standards, I’m doing womanhood wrong."

So. I don’t want to get married.

Turns out this isn’t a popular opinion for a woman to have.  At least judging by reactions I receive, which occasionally seem like responses more appropriate had I just casually declared I like to suffocate puppies in my spare time.

I’ve never fantasised about the moment of finally finding the perfect white dress. I don’t have a venue for my nuptials lined up and have never considered making a tentative booking “just in case” someone popped the question.

There’s never been a period where I meticulously dropped hints to anyone I’ve dated about what my ideal marriage proposal should involve, I don’t lust for the day I can fondly refer to someone as my “hubby”, and the extent of my knowledge about the best cut, clarity, colour and carat of diamond rings is particularly woeful.

By current Western society standards, I’m doing it wrong.  I’m supposed to flick through wedding magazines and envy the beaming brides reflected in its pages. I’m meant to be so wrapped up in the fairytale, happily-ever-after, he-put-a-ring-on-it-so-I-guess-I’m-basically-Beyoncé ideal that demands that nothing less than being united in holy matrimony with a lover can cement my Being Truly Awesome At Life status.

But there’s a problem. I don’t want it.

When I think about marriage I feel indifferent at best. At worst, I feel as though the concept has become redundant. An arbitrary, outdated social structure. Unnecessary.

If I fall in love, I shouldn’t have to sign a contract to prove it. If it doesn’t work out, I don’t want to be subjected to a lengthy and costly divorce. I have no desire to check the “married” box on forms and it seems wasteful to spend cash on a wedding I never coveted anyway.

I’d much rather spend the money on something more meaningful to me. Like a holiday together. Or a house deposit. Or scrunching up $100 notes, drenching them in Moët and lighting them on fire before stamping out the flames with a cricket bat made from solid gold. (Because that’s what people usually do with all the money they save from not having a wedding, right?)

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Interestingly, the subject of marriage has almost always been brought up by the men I’ve dated before it was mentioned by me. At times, the stereotype of all men wanting to avoid marriage at all costs was disproved, with some discernibly upset at my lack of enthusiasm towards the concept. My reluctance to walk down the aisle acted as a catalyst for more than one disagreement with various boyfriends. Shockingly, those relationships eventually didn’t work out.

Erin.

Others? They seem confused by the concept of a woman who hasn’t written “find a husband” on her to-do list.

I watched as their minds worked overtime as they tried to figure out whether this was some sort of reverse psychology or if I was dabbling in new-age sorcery stolen from the pages of the latest self-help dating book.

On the other hand, some were relieved at the absence of pressure pushing us to make such a life-altering and easy-to-get-wrong decision.

This isn’t to say I’m trying to avoid falling in love or that I’m not happy for my friends who have chosen this path for themselves. Far from it – I’m genuinely excited for people when I see wedding day photos uploaded onto Instagram or when a Facebook relationship status changes to “engaged”.

And sure, if the right person came along, I’d be happy to be in a committed relationship with him. Just one that doesn’t necessarily include the whole marriage part.

The thing is, people often confuse marriage and love, believing them to be one and the same. But this isn’t always the case; you can be married and not in love and you can be in love but not married. Although I’m open to the idea of falling in love, I know getting married is never going to be high on my list of priorities.

And I don’t want to want it. I just want it to be okay to not want it.

Erin is a freelance journalist based in Sydney who has written for Cosmopolitan, Girlfriend, 4X4 Australia, Australian Geographic Outdoor and more. She blogs regularly at Lessons Learnt Last Night and you can follow her on Twitter at @erin_e_doyle.

If you’re married: Did you always want/plan to be? If you’re not: Do you want to get married? Why/Why not?

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