Aren’t I supposed to be one half of a smug married couple by now? Shouldn’t I be awkwardly rotating my ring finger into deliberate view, and taking any chance I can get to announce my “Mrs” title? I’ve been married more than a year now, but despite what Bridget Jones told me, I’m not smiling sympathetically at my single friends and asking them why they can’t land a man. In fact, I’m more worried about what they must be thinking of me.
Getting married just isn’t very cool anymore, is it? Amongst my circle of liberal, feminist, forward-thinking friends, I think only a handful of them will do it—and even then it’ll probably be a quick exchange of signatures at a Registry Office. Marriage is the preserve of the religious, the conservative, the traditionalists; marriage is not for people like me, right?
Hypocritical as it is, when I meet someone else married at my age, I tend to assume we could never be friends. I assume they’re a little bit old-fashioned, a little bit closed-minded, a little bit conformist. Basically, I assume they’re unlikely to down a bottle of gin with me on a Friday night and end up half naked in the middle of the street screaming, “I’m a witch!” (My parents read this blog, so I won’t tell you whether or not that’s a true story.)
By extension, I assume people must judge me the same way—and so I try my absolute best never to admit I’m married. I hide my ring finger in my pocket; I’ve been guilty of referring to my husband as my “boyfriend”; one time I even called him my “roommate” (I’m so sorry, darling). When I do have to admit the embarrassing truth, it’s accompanied by a stream of justifications that nobody asked for: I’m not pregnant; it’s not a religious thing; it was a visa wedding. By the time I’ve finished babbling, my lovely marriage has been reduced to an awkward necessity.
But the truth is: I loved getting married. Yeah, it doesn’t really fit with the rest of our world views—and yeah, we probably wouldn’t have done it so young if it wasn’t for the fact our transatlantic relationship meant it was one of the only ways to be together. But I could have just signed a register in a town hall wearing white dungarees if I really wanted to—and I didn’t. (Though it was a very close call, because how great does that wedding outfit sound? Statistically speaking, I’m likely to be wearing that for my second wedding.) No, I put on a lacy white dress, and I walked down the aisle arm in arm with my father, followed by a stream of bridesmaids in flowing green dresses. We had a marquee, and a cake, and my husband put a socking great ring on my finger—and I loved it.
When I get embarrassed of being married, it’s because I don’t think it reflects who I am. I worry that being a young bride suggests naiveté, submission, and an unwillingness to fight the patriarchy. I fret that I’ve denied myself my self-expression; that noone will give me a chance to tell them my views; that nobody will know I’m accepting of open, same-sex, or polyamorous relationships because I’m not in one. Which of course is total nonsense.
Here are all the very true things my marriage reveals about me. I’ll take any excuse to get the family together. I love being the centre of attention. I love birthdays and parties and getting dressed up. I love traditions, even if I have to give them my own meanings (case in point: I may not believe in God anymore, but Christmas means family and fireplaces and I reserve the right to adore it). I love dancing, and champagne, and photobooths. I think every woman has the right to express her feminism in her own way. And I love my husband, and would have done anything to allow us to be together.
Maybe that’s not so embarrassing after all.