Friday, 25 February 2011

The Circle Game

I have just passed an enjoyable few days in the Midlands culminating in my big sister's wedding in Birmingham .  The sister in me is thrilled and excited and happy and hungover; but I'm surprised to find in all these weddings there is also a feeling of having come full circle somehow.  I thought this was from my wedding last year, but then I started tracing that circle back through my life and I'm still not sure where it starts. I keeping finding circles within circles, tiny circles around my finger and massive drunken staggering circles kicking each other in the shins while they bawl 'New York, New York' and that mystical, mystifying, enchanting circle of two that doth a marriage make. 

I'm not sure exactly why I believe in, support or endorse marriage, in all honesty.  I don't have any particular religious beliefs although I would describe myself more as agnostic than atheist.  In many ways it's a fairly outdated institution, the customs of which work mostly against my feminist principles, and in the 21st century there is simply no excuse for its exclusion of couples of the same gender.  It is normal social practice for couples to live together outside marriage and have children outside marriage and I have never felt pressured to marry for moral reasons, either for myself or even within my family or social circle.  It just isn't necessary, and in fact there are many good arguments against it. 

When I talk about marriage here, it's kind of code for a life-long, committed relationship.  But I have to say, before I married I would have said I was in one of those; and yet I have definitely crossed some kind of other threshold.  The thing about a marriage is you have to say it out loud.  I heard a writer talking recently about what a momentous occasion it is when as a writer you say 'I am a writer, I am writing a novel' out loud; that however much you've wanted or hoped for that secretly, you don't dare to say it, and then one day you do and it doesn't necessarily make you a better writer, but something changes anyway.  I continue to be surprised that marriage does change something.  It feels like casting spells, setting aside the time and space, saying the words and knowing them to be true has, for me at least, had a little bit of magic in it.

My first memory of wanting to be married was shyly confessing that feeling to my First Boyfriend at the age of fourteen.  He laughed at me and we never mentioned it again, but this week he proposed to his beautiful and high-achieving girlfriend who wisely and bravely accepted and I'm thrilled for them both.  Another circle closes.

I don't want to induce any vomit so I'll leave it there.  I'm not going to bore you with our wedding details but I'd like to give a big shout out to the Offbeat Bride Tribe which provided space to think about all the big things whilst also dealing with all the little things as we planned our wedding; if you are planning yours I highly recommend you pay it a visit.  One of my friends on there has now started her own wedding website and she profiled our wedding here.


  1. Hmmm... I suppose part of what makes marriage significant is the public declaration of love and commitment. Aside from the romantic side the couple have stood up in public, surrounded by friends, family and the figure of "the establishment" and given this commitment. It's not taken lightly and is a very ancient practice. People have made public declarations of many kinds for centuries and, once entered into, they're not that easy to get out of. I'm not talking about moral or religious reasons, just practical. Societies and communities have been held together by roles and commitments their members have to one another.

    Personally I would like to see civil ceremonies for straight couples too as often the thought of religion is anathema to the couple who want to show commitment. Maybe then more people would get married.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble. I just thought I'd add my ideas - sorry if they're not very well put together! :)

  2. great post. i think you're right. marriage is a funny old game. it in many ways is too traditional/religious and doesn't sit well with my athiesim or politics.

    however it is great making such a commitment to someone you love. to have that comitment reciprocated is a pretty cool thing to share with your spouse.

    agree about not being any excuse to deny gay marriages in the present day, but also liked the comment above about cicil partnerships for hetrosexuals...never thought about that before.

    you're right, it is all circles, keep up the great blog (modestly,of course..)


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