I’ve mentioned before, my parents aren’t married. They’ve both been married, just not to each other. They both had a marriage, a complicated divorce and at least one child (in my mother’s case-a 6 month old me) in tow when they met. 5 months later, they moved in together. That was 23 and a half years ago. They are boyfriend and girlfriend. (Seriously, that’s how they refer to each other. Sweet and embarrassing, all at once.)
This post would be easy to write were there many complex reasons for why my parents never married. But it isn’t and there are not. Quite simply, they think that being married is pointless. Where does that leave this post? Where does it leave me, their
pointlessly happily married daughter?
My parents have faced more trauma, drama and hardship than I care to recall. They took on each other’s children, without question. Met new families, faced new disapproval from all corners. My little brother was baptised in the hospital chapel as a newborn, my parents having been told he was hours from death. My Mum had to endure the unthinkable; opening the front door to two policemen, there to inform her with their solemn expressions and steady hands that my Dad, also a policeman, had been seriously injured in the line of duty. Then there was the long road to recovery. For my Dad and for us as a family. There has been illness, loss, the difficulties of being a ‘blended’ family…weekend visits, new step and half siblings, two Christmases and birthdays, “my ‘real’ Dad’s new girlfriend is going to be my new Mummy!” (I shudder to remember how precocious and nitwitty I was as a child.)
Of course, you don’t get the bad without the good. Or the completely awesome. Knowing from the moment you can identify familial relationships that the man you call ‘Daddy’, chose you to be his daughter and chose your mother to love. Knowing that your Mum has a backbone of steel. Growing up with half-brothers and step-brothers…learning to share and learning where to hide your diary. Two weeks every August in the Scottish highlands, being allowed to drive the car on the really straight bits of the mountain roads. Christmas traditions that were just ours. I saw my parents love us and one another, every day. It was a pretty special way to grow up.
Would my parents’ relationship, and therefore my upbringing, have been any different if they’d ever made it official? Would the hard times have been any easier? Would the happy times have been even better?
I think not. In their case, being married has made no difference to their relationship, their family, their lives. I believe that whilst my parents may not have had a wedding, they absolutely have a marriage.
And as for me…Sometimes I wonder why I wanted to get married. Surely I should have been anti-marriage from year dot? I am certain that had Phil and I decided not to marry, we would have continued to be in love, to want to build a home and a family. So why the wedding and the certificate and the rings? There is a little bit of me that wants to prove to my Mum and Dad that although their first marriages failed and their subsequent relationship thrived and prospered, that isn’t how it has to be for everyone. Apart from that… I really wanted everyone to know how much Phil and I loved each other and a wedding was the socially acceptable way to do that. Simple.
So readers…hit me. Are my parents the exception that proves the rule? Should all adult relationships be aiming for weddings and official marriagedom? Or can it be ok, nay, completely awesome, if you don’t get wed? Your thoughts…