…And Really, It’s Nobody’s Business But Their Own.
With the recent announcement on his blog, Neil Gaiman has confirmed that he is to marry his girlfriend of 8 months, Dresden Dolls lead singer Amanda Palmer.
There are those who might question why the pair feel the need to formalise their relationship. Others might raise their brow and mutter to themselves at the 16-year age gap between the two. Still more might consider a marriage after such a relatively short period of them being together.
To any and all of those people, I implore you: hush up and mind your own damn business.
The debate over the worth and validity of marriage is a prickly one, even in an age of supposed enlightenment and acceptance. Religion (or lack thereof) plays a pretty major part of the discussion, with some questioning why people who don’t follow a given religion would choose to have a religious service held in a place of worship, and others asking why anybody would want to get married at all. After all, marriage is expensive, divorce is rife and everyone’s heard the stories about how marriage and kids ruin your sex life and make you miserable, right?
There are those who even now could not get married even if they wanted to. Conversely, there are those who are forced into marriage against their will out of a twisted sense of duty and loyalty to their family. It’s no wonder the whole issue is so contentious, and why there seems to be no end to the debate in sight.
But honestly, people… what people do with their lives – whether that be dating within their gender, marrying their grandmother’s best friend, or chaining themselves to one another using matching nipple rings – is really only their business, and none of yours. Just because you subscribe to a religion, or don’t, or because something offends your morals or your sensibilities one way or the other, that gives you precisely zero call to interfere in the lives and lovelives of other consenting adults.
My good friend Mike gets married this year to his girlfriend of almost four years. They’re both affirmed atheists, yet they decided they wanted a church wedding before they would even start thinking about having kids. At first, this struck me as odd, but the moment I realised that it’s what would make them happy, any doubt left my mind. At that point you shouldn’t give it another thought. Life is short, and questioning or forbidding a couple from making an informed decision they have come to of their own free will is just another thing that’s stopping our species from evolving and moving on to the real problems in the world.
Not long after my dad died, I had a conversation with my mum about marriage, specifically asking her would she still have gotten married if she had the chance to do it over.
Her answer was no.
She told me that she and my dad would have stayed together even without the need to get married, and the only reason they did it in the first place is because of pressure from religious members of my mum’s family. It’s strange to think how far we’d have come along as a civilisation if more people lived in a manner that made them truly happy, rather than living as they felt they ought to.
I still haven’t decided whether I want to get married. The only reasons I can think of for myself to actually do it is for the financial benefits, or because I was seeing someone without UK citizenship and we both wanted dual nationality. If those are the best reasons I can think of, maybe it’s best I leave off the idea for the time being! Time and experience will tell, of course, but I have a feeling I’d have a hard time being in a relationship with someone who insisted that marriage was an inevitable part of being with that person.
Does that mean I think you shouldn’t get married? Of course not! Marriage may make you happier than you’ve ever been before, or it may ruin your life. The fact is, it’s your life to experience as you will, so to those who are doing what makes them joyful, I truly am pleased for you. For those who would rather control others and stop them living a fulfilling life, I hope soon you realise what it is that makes you happy, and embrace it.
ETA: Oops! Since I posted this, Mike and Laura have both pointed out that they’re not getting married in a church, as I mentioned above. Rather, it’ll be a civil ceremony held in some grounds that just happen to have a church on them! Admittedly most of the conversations I have with them are when either one or all of us are inebriated!