I am 23 years old and I am sure that I do not ever want to get married. Do I have mental issues? No. Am I an abhorrent creature? No. Did I watch parents fight over money, child custody, or pets and did that traumatise me? No. My parents have been happily married for almost 25 years now and they still love each other.
Why don’t I just embrace the bonds of marriage? It’s simple; I’ll say it with a movie quote: “I don’t actually feel comfortable being anyone’s anything.” This is what Summer (Zooey Deschanel) said to Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in the movie ‘500 Days of Summer’. When it comes to marriage, I am Summer. Just like her I feel the pressure of giving myself away to someone. I can just feel it weighing on my shoulders, and I’m not even with someone right now.
It’s normal to be married so it makes you slightly weird when you’re not. People will wonder if something’s wrong with you and you’ll have to explain yourself: “So how come you’re not married? Did you not meet the right person yet?” When you’re married no one asks you why you’re married and if you’re even married to the right person. People simply marry each other, done. I think people are more likely to see single women as lamentable and lonely as opposed to single men. “Oh look at him, he’s a strong independent man.” “Look at her, still waiting until she meets Mr. Right…”
In some countries there is more pressure on women to find a partner than in other countries. In China women get labeled “leftover women” by the state if they are over the age of 27 and unmarried. This term is used in both the media and in government. It puts a lot of pressure on the targeted group of women. There’s also still a huge number of girls that is forced into marriage, especially in developing countries. According to the United Nations an estimated 14.2 million girls a year will become child brides by 2020.
At least in Europe we still have the choice to say yes or no. I wonder If people ever say “Yes, but under these conditions…” just like Margaret Thatcher did to her fiancée Dennis. (Whether she was a good person or not, that’s a different discussion that we can have another time. Ok?) I remember a dialogue from the movie – yes, another movie- ‘The Iron Lady’, about the life of Margaret Thatcher. When her husband wanted to marry her she didn’t say “Yes” right away. She said: “Yes! I love you so much but I will never be one of those women, Dennis. Who stays silent and pretty on the arm of her husband. Or remote and alone in the kitchen – doing the washing up, for that matter.” Her fiancé told her that they would get help for that. Margaret replied: “One’s life must matter, Dennis. Beyond all the cooking and the cleaning and the children. One’s life must mean more than that. I cannot die washing up a teacup! I mean it, Dennis. Say you understand.” Dennis tried to take her doubts away by saying: “That’s why I want to marry you, my dear.”
If you saw this movie then I’m sure you remember this dialogue and if you saw the movie ‘500 Days of Summer’ then you know Summer ends up being married anyway.
So if I end up being married anyway, like Summer, then let it at least be under the conditions of Margaret.