Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Marriage and Babies

It’s a funny old world. You spend your heady 20’s leering from one unsuitable man to the other, with no care for marriage or children, and then you meet the one who lights all your fires, and you gradually become overwhelmed by the desire to become his wife and bear his child.

I know that isn’t the case for everyone – some never want to get married or have kids, and some have been wanting those things since the year dot. But for those of us who have steadfastly ignored such notions for the first 30 odd years of our lives, the shift in attitude is both odd and terrifying. And that’s just my side. Imagine being on the receiving end!

I’ve consulted with my female friends on this, and whilst a few weren’t really all that fussed about marriage (I reckon there’s something in the disinterest that provokes the proposal….), the majority of women I spoke to, took the lead. Some issued ultimatums, some deadlines, some opted for a lengthy period of hints and then more forceful persuasion. And interestingly, in a lot of these cases, I genuinely had no idea – I thought the guy had just one day decided the time was right and made his move, not that he had been given a gentle nudge or an almighty prod.

So, why is it that we are so keen to get married, and they are a little sheepish about it all? Is it the thought of only having sex with one person? The weight of responsibility? I think perhaps for all our equality, we women underestimate the male need to be able to provide, to be on a more secure financial footing. Is it the colliding of worlds that the wedding day brings? Friends and family, all together under one roof? Is it the fear of the actual day - of standing up in front of everyone? For me, as a performer, that’s the least of my worries. I’m more concerned with how I’d afford a Vivienne Westwood dress and keep my boobs in it, and avoid my mother trying to cover them with a veil, or her hands (it’s been done before. I have the pictures to prove it).

But for those who aren’t used to poking their head above the parapet, the wedding day can be a terrifying experience. And then there’s the expense. The average wedding nowadays costs 20K plus. Which means that unless your parents have a secret wedding fund or you’ve been saving for an awfully long time, you’re left choosing between a new bathroom and kitchen, or a fuck off ceremony and party for your nearest and dearest. Or maybe putting it in a savings fund for a boob lift post the babies....

I’m selling it aren’t I? But, as a believer in marriage, I think the benefits outweigh the negatives. I can’t speak for the men, but all the women I know who are married, have a certain something about them. In most cases it’s an aura of calm that they didn’t possess to that extent before. I guess there’s something about feeling settled which marriage brings. And I know loads of people will tell me you have that without marriage, but I think if you want marriage, you associate it with a stability and commitment that doesn’t come from living together. 

The other thing that strikes me about all of this, is that we don’t really talk about it. I mean yes, there are books about it, magazine articles and the like. But women don’t tend to talk to other women about it. All the female friends that I spoke to, have spoken to me post getting married. They didn’t come and chat when they were desperate to get engaged and the ring wasn’t forthcoming. Why is that? Why is there such a stigma? Why are we afraid to say what we want, and talk about the fact that our partners don’t necessarily want it, or don’t want it at the same time? I guess it’s embarrassment. For all our modern equality, I think (and I’m open to correction) that women want the guy to want to marry us, to take ownership in that way, to make us their wife. Which then makes it even worse, because then not only do you want to get married, but you want the guy to want to marry you, and if they aren’t keen, that’s sort of a double whammy of doom.

My mother said to me that I should never bring up marriage – “it will scare a man off”. She may yet be right. Though she did date my Dad for 11 years before they got hitched, so I’m not sure she’s the best person to follow in terms of timing. But I think if you love someone, you probably want the same things. He just doesn’t know it yet :-) I’m kidding. But you get my drift. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be. We’ve had the chats, my partner and I. He’s not a marriage enthusiast, I am. I’m hoping I’ll win on that one.... And we both want a child in the next few years. And I think that sort of dialogue is important. It’s not the stuff we should avoid talking about, because they are some of the most crucial decisions you’ll ever make. Why shove them under the carpet and hope for the best?

I think we should be more open about it all, because that’s the only way the supposed stigma will be decimated. Women are the socialisers in relationships most of the time, and we’re also the planners. So why wouldn’t we be planning emotional stuff as well as the more mundane items like the weekly Tesco food shop? Men tend to be a little more laidback – they need reminders to book hair appointments, send birthday cards, have a shower. That sort of thing. And they’re not all like that, but I’d hazard that the vast majority are. Every now and then they need a kick up the arse. Sexist I know, but there, I’ve said it.

Now, in the spirit of honesty, I should say I began this blog post a few months ago, and I finished tinkering with it at the end of June. And that’s when I should have posted it – I should have practised what I preach and posted before my man proposed. Which he did, a few weeks ago whilst we were on holiday. And I’m over the moon. But I’m annoyed with myself for not posting this earlier. Because that’s what it is all about isn’t it? About putting yourself out there and on the line when it is most risky, most difficult. Not when it’s easy. Not now when I’m basking in the betrothed glow (there’s no such thing, but you know what I mean). But better late than never I reckon. And I’ll try to do better.... x