Fariytales and Unicorns: I still believe…

Marriage. We’re a blog that ostensibly is ABOUT marriage. We cover a lot of other things too now, but when you strip us down, we’re basically talking about marriage, weddings and relationships in 90% of our posts. So it’s interesting that there’s a growing number of women, of the same demographic as many of us, who are opting out of marriage. Who just don’t think it’s necessary anymore. Who believe marriage and its traditions are an outdated institution. 

Nicola writes really powerfully here about this, and why she still believes in the happy ending of marriage. I’m willing to bet that a lot of you do too – most of you ARE married for a start. But perhaps you have a more open minded view of where marriage will end? Do you believe in the fairytale? Or even more interestingly – are you thinking that perhaps marriage isn’t for you?

The subject of marriage is one which is constantly debated and discussed. In the past few years, rising divorce rates, declining number of marriages in general and increased age of first marriage (when it does happen) have all fuelled the debate as to whether the perception of the institution of marriage is changing, and perhaps losing its appeal.

I have seen a wave of articles written by seemingly disillusioned women who, having reached a certain age, have embraced the idea of being unmarried, single, and childless as they approach their third and fourth decades -rejecting the traditional view of marriage they held onto for so long. One such article of this nature was forwarded to me last week. You can read the Telegraph review of it here. The author, Kate Bolick, suggests that social, cultural and economic changes in our lives have meant that our ingrained ideal of achieving a nuclear family and having a perfect marriage is one which – to put it bluntly – is outdated and unrealistic. She draws on evidence from all kind of sources to substantiate her views, and I have no doubt that she intended to ruffle feathers with her controversial viewpoint.

She certainly ruffled mine.

So, just for the record, and in the hope of reassuring women with a similar viewpoint to my own, I’m going to add my own view to this highly contentious debate. I’m being totally honest here, laying it all bare, at the risk of making myself sound like a ‘certain sort’ of person. I’d love to hear other people’s views on the subject, but I hope you will be kind enough not to berate me for feeling the way I do – I’m not saying we should all feel this way or that it is ‘right’.

Firstly, I guess I should get the all important question out of the way. No, I’m not married. But, I do want to be married, and the fact that I’m not married yet is something that bothers me almost every day.

I’m one of those people that has always dreamt of the fairytale romance – you meet the man of your dreams, fall in love and get married – I guess I was just brought up to believe that this was how things were done. As a child, I always thought that unmarried couples were those that just hadn’t ‘set a date’ yet, and never really considered the concept that some people might choose not to marry.

Growing up and realising that it isn’t all sunshine and roses shook me considerably. I thought finding the right guy would be easy, and would automatically lead to a romantic proposal and glorious wedding. Despite the realisation that each relationship, and individual in it, is unique, and that marriages are not always rosy, I have still maintained a strong desire to find my fairytale romance. I don’t want to be robbed of it, it was (and is) my biggest goal.

Another factor influencing my opinion on this subject is children. I have always known that I would like to have a child, and since reaching my twenties I’ve felt that natural desire strengthen and pull at my very core more and more each year. I’m absolutely 100% ready to have a child at this moment in time. But, I feel that I need to be married before I have children, to be a ‘proper’ family (whatever that may be!). It’s just the way I always thought it would be and, again, I’m not prepared to let go of that dream.

However, my dream has already had to mould to my changing circumstances and changing tastes – in my childhood dream I was married WAY before 25, so clearly I’ve already missed one goalpost, and visions of a princess carriage and huge meringue dress have dissipated thanks to evolving maturity and  My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Financial considerations mean that even after 5yrs with my knight in shining armour, the ‘one’, a wedding is still a distant dream. The ‘anti-marriage’ articles I’ve seen would suggest I should abandon my unrealistic (?) dreams altogether. Should I? I really hope the answer is no.

The thought of society rejecting the concept of marriage absolutely terrifies me. My rational mind tells me that it would make sense on many levels – less people in the UK now buy into the religious side of marriage (myself included), there is much less social stigma now associated with ‘living in sin’ or having a child out of marriage, and it’s not like us ladies need marriage to ensure we are ‘kept’ nowadays.

So why do we need it?

I don’t know. Maybe ‘we’ don’t need it. But I do. I know Chris won’t love me anymore just because we’re married and I don’t need him to prove his commitment to me through it. I just want to be his wife, rational or not.

Categories: Becoming A Wife, Engagement, Family, Friends and Relationships
20 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Alex
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    “I just want to be his wife, rational or not”: you perfectly nailed down how I felt about a yer ago Nicola. Circumstances (being an expat in Dubai) dictated us getting married this year, but your words reflect exactly how I feel/felt. If we hadn’t moved, we probably wouldn’t have married for quite a few years, probably with children first. Great post!

  2. Pickle
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Interesting post – I think a big BIG part of how you view this depends on what you grew up with but ultimately views on marriage are completely personal and what’s right for one individual/one couple probably isn’t right for everyone. I hate hearing people say they feel they ‘should’ get married (or as one friend said to me once, he ‘probably should think about proposing soon’) as I think the journey to deciding if marriage is right for you or not is a completely personal one.

    My parents’ marriage was pretty disastrous so my default position growing up was that ‘marriage probably ends in disaster so what’s the point of getting started down that road’. I stuck with that line of thinking for many years while in a happy relationship but eventually my perspective changed – I started to realise that my marriage wouldn’t necessarily have to go the way of my parents and we do have something worth celebrating. We were both ready to move on to a new stage of our lives and doing that as a married couple made sense/felt right for us – not because it was something I’d always expected, it just felt right; we got married earlier this year.

  3. Katielase
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Interesting post! I do believe in marriage, obviously, since I got married this year. I think the problem with people saying that “women don’t believe in the fairytale ending of marriage”, or words to that effect, is that marriage isnt, and never has been, a fairytale, or an ending. My parents have been married 31 years, during that time they have been through a lot. I’ve seen them nearly split up, and fight like hell for their relationship. That wasn’t fairytale, it was tough-shit real life. I got married because I wanted to promise to always fight when the fairytale falls apart.

    I sort of agree with the idea that women don’t see marriage as a happy ever after, because it isn’t. It’s actually tonnes better than that, I don’t want to be happy ever after, I just want my husband by my side, even when life is awful. I definitely believe in marriage, I just believe in it as an option, but not one that makes everything perfect, or easy. Just one that was right for us, but that may not be right for others. I don’t think society will ever reject the notion of marriage, it might just become more realistic about what marriage really is, which is probably a good thing, since marriage, the non-fairytale version, can be really awesome.

    K x

    • Posted November 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Katielase I just wanted to leave a quick comment to say that this line made me well up: “I got married because I wanted to promise to always fight when the fairytale falls apart.” I don’t think anyone’s expressed what I feel so well. It’s a bloody scary thought that you will commit and promise to one person that whatever happens you’ll fight to stay together xXx

  4. Cheri
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Very interesting. I had always assumed that deep down all women want that fairytale, with a fairytale day and a happy ever after, but maybe they dont? I know that for me marriage was very important, particularly for having children, and I definately didnt want to have children outside of marriage. Also, on some other level, I feel that marriage has proved that I am loveable, that I am attractive to someone and that I am great enough that someone wants to spend their life with me – but that is down to my insecurity, another post topic I’m sure!

  5. Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I know what you mean, I have a lot of friends in long(ish) term relationships. We’ve all just left uni. People are starting to live together and I know a good few are thinking “yeah, this guy, I’ll be with him forever. We live together now, everything is awesome, why do I need marriage?”

    I also have friends saying “a mortgage together is harder to get out of than a marriage!”

    I can see the value in these opinions. Personally we have the religious motivation, without marriage there is nowhere more our relationship can go, but if you commit to each other and buy that house together do you need the ‘legal bit’?

    I don’t know. I think it’s personal. As long as you’re not getting married just for the “I want to wear a pretty dress and be a princess!!!”-ness.

    I just know I look at Daniel right now and think (even without the other motivations) “I just really really want to be your wife already”

    Woo quotation marks!

    • Cheri
      Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      I had the faith motivation with being a Christian, however, before I became a Christian I always felt that I would get married before having children. My sister has her first before marriage, which is perfectly fine for her, but not for me.

  6. Caroline
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Such a great post, when my resolve to follow the dream has been battered beyond recognition.
    I’m not sure why, but I’ve always wanted a marriage, not so bothered about the wedding, but the official-ness of the whole rings-on-fingers-in-sickness-and-in-health and just having someone that wants to be with you and you want to be with.
    Unfortunately for me I’m rapidly approaching 34 and, although I have a boyfriend, I don’t think he’s ‘the one’. This has made me feel very sad recently, and wondering whether I should just settle or am I waiting for something that is never going to happen? Questions only I can answer, but this post has lit a tiny flame of hope for me..

    • Posted November 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Caroline, only you can know what’s right for you but I don’t think you should settle.

  7. Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Thank you all so much for your comments – it’s always nerve wracking to put such a personal opinion out there for all to see, especially when it’s one that means a great deal.

    I completely agree with everything you have all said – I too have watched my parents go through rocky stages in their marriage, but also feel that the fact they were married (and had three children) made them try a little harder to solve their issues; and I also think that articles in the press encouraging people to disregard marriage terrify me so much because I agree that views on marriage and kids are very personal and that we shouldn’t be trying to manipulate people to view them one way or another.

    Nicola x

  8. SB
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    *SUCH* an interesting topic and one I’d like to give a more considered response than time currently allows, so just a quick one for now …

    I, for one, find it really challenging to balance the ideas in my head that I’ve had since I was a child, i.e. that I would be married with children of my own one day, because that’s how *everyone* does it etc etc, with the reality of my life. I am in a long-term relationship and am not really interested in getting married and certainly not having kids and I am *perfectly* happy with things as they are. I’m not ‘anti’ those things, and can be spectacularly excited for others when they decide to take those steps, I just don’t want the for myself. Nonetheless, it still feels a bit strange that I won’t be conforming to the pictures in my head and – to a certain extent – to the expectations of others.

  9. SB
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    @Cheri: “on some other level, I feel that marriage has proved that I am loveable, that I am attractive to someone and that I am great enough that someone wants to spend their life with me”

    Yep, I think you’ve just summed up another facet of my confusion. I do have that insecurity but – when I’m wearing my rational hat – I know that marriage won’t solve the issues. My rational hat is my everyday hat but I have other, special hats that allow me to beat myself up about things regularly, and when I’m wearing one of those then the confusion I attempted to articulate in my first post has absolute free reign.

  10. Esme's Mum
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Mr S and I (it is a second marriage for us both) got married 4 years ago for the following reasons and not necessarily in this order :

    # We were at the stage that we knew that marriage wouldn’t change our relationship – you’d be surprised at the number of people who get married in order to change what they have, or maybe you wouldn’t…

    # We wanted a party that all the people we love and care for would feel obliged to come to. It was the best party. EVER.

    # We needed a new washing machine – brutal I know but it’s true.

    # I wanted to wear a long dress. I know that sounds shallow but I wanted a beautiful dress that I would only wear once but would feel special in for our special day. I’d never worn a long dress before and at my first wedding I wore a day dress that then doubled as a maternity dress when 4 weeks after the wedding I found that I was pregnant with the beautiful Esme. My dress was made by my daughter Amy just for me and it rustled when I walked. It was just perfect.

    # I wouldn’t have my ex-husbands name any more.

    I love being married to Mr S and we were right, it didn’t change a thing.

    • Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      I’d never thought about your first point quite like that, but it’s such a good one! How many times are we told we shouldn’t try and change a guy, but so many people do.

      A few of these points made me lol. I think for a lot of people (including me) to some extent the pretty dress and to a larger extent the big party are a part of the desire to be married. As long as it’s not the sole reason for making that decision then I’m OK with that.

      Rustles :) <3

    • Posted November 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Apart from the name and the washing machine (I would like a kitchen aid though) these are pretty much our motivations!

      • Becca
        Posted November 6, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

        Kitchen aid IN CREAM #theseandotherdreams

  11. Anita
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Interesting post, Nicola. As a divorcee, I obviously believed in marriage enough to do it once. What I no longer have is the ‘blind faith’ to do it again. Because believe me, you can never know what the future will bring and I am really jealous of those who still have the blind faith in marriage (like Esme’s mum!) which I used to and don’t any more.

    • Esme's Mum
      Posted November 7, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Believe me it isn’t blind faith that meant that I could get married again. It was meeting that one person who I knew with absolute certainty that I would be with forever that did if for me. I just wasn’t that lucky the first time.

  12. Lolla
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    All that money you spent on a wedding, would probs buy you a washing machine, no?

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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