Monday, October 21, 2013

the marriage fantasy

There's been a lot of talk in close circles about weddings and marriages and babies - mainly because my cousin Cam, who is my age, is getting married in a week's time. This is the third wedding I've attended this year, and there are at least two more on the roster, stretching all the way up to April of next year.

A friend of mine, who is a handful of years younger than me and currently studying abroad, popped up on my Facebook chat a couple of nights ago, exclaiming that another friend of hers is getting married, and what is up with the spate of people tying the knot all of a sudden?

I would say that it's probably the norm in a predominantly Catholic country and the last nation standing without a divorce law. Most people get married in their twenties and thirties, and while I'm happy to say that many of my friends and acquaintances who have married well before my sad singleton self (and The Boyfriend argues that we still have to put down "single" on legal documents, instead of "dating the most awesome person in the universe", simply because there is no tick box for that, though I must argue that there should be one by now) seem to have settled well into their Smug Married lives - to borrow a term from Bridget Jones' Diary - without much of a hitch. But you also hear stories of marriages dissolving, at least on a social (if not a completely legal) level, because of abuse or dishonesty or the million and one ways a person can hurt another person and vice versa, or simply just falling out of love with the person that they thought they would be in love with FOREVER.

This isn't to sound like a Debbie Downer - I'm quite pleased for my cousin and my friends who have decided that they want to live and love one person forever, and I'm in a very happy place, relationship-wise, myself and with a person I would like to be with for a long, long time - but at the same time, I cannot help but be slightly suspicious of the marriage fantasy. I mean, let's face it: the institution of marriage was formed largely from a religious and political point of view because popping out babies and continuing hereditary practices such as inheriting land or money or property or a position of power needed to be formalized and codified in one manner or the other. It's very hard to contest the claim of a son (daughters were and are still largely questioned in terms of positions of power, despite living in a contemporary society where women are supposed to be considered equal to men) when you saw him pop out his mom, all bloody and screaming and crying.

There are a lot of rituals and conditions and codifications of this entire marriage ceremony. Being a wedding supplier is a guaranteed money-maker. Wedding coordinators and organizers are like military commanders, Suzy Homemakers, and Rachel Zoe all rolled into one fluffy, lace-and-satin package. The wedding industry is HUGE - and there are some people whose dream weddings have been made into a reality thanks to a combination of ingenuity, sheer stubbornness, and probably a glue gun or two. Personally, I don't see the need for a videographer to document EVERY SINGLE MOMENT at one's wedding, or to take awkwardly composed photographs of everything, from the wedding rings to the shoes to the way your great-grandmother takes off her pustiso while consuming the over-cooked spare ribs.

Or maybe I'm just being a sour grape. After all, I don't think I can ever afford getting married at such an elaborate ceremony, where I will shower my guests with white rose petals the shape of a dove's plump behind, or feed everyone and their kith and kin at some fancypants hotel ballroom whose name is probably inspired by the French language. I already have issues with the Catholic Church, and The Boyfriend is a staunch liberal humanist, which means that any kind of church wedding should probably be approached with some kind of trepidation and caution. (Sorry Catholic Church - not a big fan of yours.) I'm approaching 30 and I still live at home and I know that I earn well below what my contemporaries earn in the private sector, and goodness knows I don't have insurance or health care or some kind of contingency plan in case I croak. E pano pa kaya yung asawa ko, di ba? Why would I want to settle with just one person, knowing that nothing is certain and we all just die in the end?

But perhaps that is the great triumph of the 21st century wedding myth... I mean, bliss. That we can all have our Happily Ever Afters, that there will come a Prince Charming who will sweep us off our feet and make sure that we will have nothing to worry about once we sign on the dotted line and slip the ring on the fourth finger of our left hands. Maybe we've been brought up on a steady diet of rom-coms and chick lit and our family and friends' incessant questions of "When are you getting married?" or "When will you introduce us to your boyfriend?" or "Won't you ever settle down and have kids?" that maybe sometimes, it's so easy to just give into the pressure and demands of being a woman of a certain age and being expected to be paired up in a hetero-normative relationship, like Noah's animals in the ark.

But I'd also like to think that deep down inside, beyond all the cynicism and caution that I have, I still believe in love. Not the sparkly, hearts-and-rainbows-out-of-your-ass kind of love, but the comfortable, quiet love that two people who respect and admire each other, and has lived with each others' foibles and habits and quirks long enough can have. I'd like the kind of love that wraps you up in its arms on a lazy Sunday morning, or comforts you after a long, demanding day at work. I'd like the kind of love that doesn't announce itself with bells and whistles, but the kind that will last.

And maybe I've found it already.

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