I’m don’t believe in marriage anymore. Is that sad?
It’s not that I don’t believe in love. I just don’t believe that it lasts forever, except in exceptional cases. Admitting that still provokes horror in 2018, which is weird in a world where we laugh at people who believe in the Tooth Fairy.
I used to dream of marriage as a seven year old. The big beautiful white dress, the proud family, the perfect cake. I’d marry a handsome train driver called Eric who would have black hair and green eyes, and he’d love me to distraction. He’d wear suits all the time, and we’d live in a purple house with blossom trees and a swing. I had it all worked out. We’d have two kids and holiday in Yorkshire every July.
I’m old now. Well, 22. And now I dread marriage. And Eric is long dead as my dream man. I buried him with Father Christmas, the monster under the bed and neo-communism. I don’t believe in my dream man. I don’t even believe in a dream man. I believe in men.
Ordinary, flawed, dad bodied men who don’t pick up their socks or love you passionately anymore. The kind who fall asleep next to you without a kiss, and you can’t really remember the last time they wanted your opinion on anything. That’s fine. I’m not perfect. Humans tend not to be.
I’m happy with Mr Ordinary. I even love Mr Ordinary. I am not falling out of love, by any means. But I’m not going to marry him.
Why? Because I don’t believe in forever. And I don’t want forever. Love is great at first. It’s euphoric kisses, late night hotel liasons, eating croissants in Paris while the leaves fall and emailed poetry. Now you badger him to say ‘I love you’ and get into fights over how to correctly fold a newspaper. You’ll be surprised when he says something sweet. Later, you will be listening to Radio 3 over your zimmerframes and weakly requesting tea eighteen times over The Marriage Of Figaro, which you will know off by heart because you never speak to each other.
Hellish. You’ll probably despise eachother. But the habit has set in and you are an addict to the mundane detatched house mortgage, 2.5 kids and weekly shop at Sainsbury’s. All is grim, grey; cardigans and red brick moulding away for all eternity as you live in comfortable misery.
I’m cynical, I know, I know. But all my older friends (About 30% are aged 40 and up) are depressingly miserable, divorced or screwing their secretaries. My friend’s parents hate each other. Everyone sleeps in separate rooms with other people’s wives and husbands. The system is a lie.
You look at their wedding photographs on the coffee table, all 90s puffed sleeves and beaming devotion, and it seems a million miles away. The bride smiles winningly over some yellow roses that have long decayed, along with her love for her husband. Irritability, adultery and cabin fever has set into daily life like the mould in the plaster, seeping into every late night at work and unpaid council tax bill. Now they pretend the other one doesn’t exist. Don’t marry, Madelaine, your wife whispers to me bitterly over her tea cup. Don’t end up miserable and old like us.
A few people escape the net of claustrophobic matronightmare, snugly fitting into nuclear family old age, hand in hand like a John Lewis advert. And that’s cute, but rare. Much rarer than anyone planning their wedding would like to admit. The idea of love lasting over ten years seems like a fairytale, something sweet but ultimately, like cyanide, toxic.
I know you are going to say I’m young, practically a child, and that I’m far too young to make decisions or hold a serious view on such things. But right now, I’m happy living in sin- and love- on my own accord, rather than coming to hate the men in my life who mean so much to me.