• "Anything that is even mildly matrimonial brings me out in a rash." (Getty Images)
It's time to revolt against the notion that relationships ordained by the state are the most special.
By
Helen Razer

29 Jun 2016 - 11:48 AM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2016 - 12:06 PM

The world is full of noble folk who seek to save less noble folk through acts of confiscation. There are those who think that the image of the “page three girl” is corrupting. There are those convinced that early life exposure to the word “homosexual” will contaminate the earth. Then, there are those who seem to think that video games will produce dangerous killers. As the former slave of an Xbox, I find this latter fear particularly quaint.  A fully engaged gamer has neither the muscle tone nor the motivation to buy milk, much less decapitate a stranger on the street. But, this is—pew! pew!—hardly my point.

My point is that I have never understood the logic of banning items from the culture. Except when it comes to (a) the music of Taylor Swift and, for our purposes today, (b) bridal magazines.

Or, more broadly, any media or utterance of any type that promotes marriage, weddings, flower girls or those horrid plastic corpse couples that you put on top of cakes. Anything that is even mildly matrimonial brings me out in a rash. Of course, I would never seek to have publications like Modern Bride or Vogue Bride or Knocked Up and Horny Bride legally banned from sale. No. I believe in free and utterly untrammelled speech. But, I also believe that married people are deluded zealots who should jolly well keep their delusions to themselves.

Marriage is the ongoing public declaration that relationships ordained by the state are somehow the most special.

But, no. They so seldom do. It’s rarely sufficient for them to steal away and make those quiet promises to each other they know they are likely to break. They are usually moved to do this in public, involve scores of people directly in the ruse and then bother hundreds of other people with evidence of it on Facebook. Then, all this attention earned for the unremarkable feat of spending too much money on One Special Day is not enough. For the rest of their dreaded, wedded lives, they conspicuously refer to “my husband” or “my wife”.

How much can you married people possibly ask? I mean, I ironed a frock, left the house and put fifty bucks into your nakedly greedy Wedding Wishing Well and now you want me to remember for the length of our association that I could have been turning my compost instead of eating defrosted salmon one dreary Saturday afternoon. I hate salmon. I hate the chicken dish as well. But, more than anything, I dislike this broad complicity with a convention whose history is as grim as its future. Marriage is the ongoing public declaration that relationships ordained by the state are somehow the most special.

I should say that I have much more patience for those who are wed in faith. Or, those who do it chiefly to please their parents and neighbours. You guys have a good excuse. You’re doing it far less to assert your own Special Day and Special Relationship than you are to please mum, god or the bloke at number 10. But those of you who wed to endorse no institution higher or more useful than that of yourself can take your costly self-involvement and leave me to my compost pile.

Especially you guys, Barbara and Nathaniel. Who, by the by, invited people to their wedding who enjoy, as they do, cooking uncomplicated rustic fare to the music of Taylor Swift.

When weddings and marriage ties us less to our kin and community and more to an idealised version of the spectacular self, it’s time to RSVP “no”.

You may have seen the nuptials of Nate and Babs described in the Vows section of the New York Times. If you have not, I urge you to view this saccharine vice at once. Do so, and you may begin to approach Helen-levels of revulsion for the selfish modern wedding. I am sure it was the intention of editors to refurbish an ailing tradition with words like, “Growing up on Martha’s Vineyard, (Nathaniel) was bookish and interested in existential questions and distinctive clothing from an early age” or “When (Barbara) visited his house, she generally arrived with an armful of baguettes and pastries, leftovers from the bakery where she worked. “I started referring to her as our ‘friend with breadifits.’”

Mercy, they even have a video presentation of their preferences and peccadilloes and while it’s all very well and good that they have the same taste in designer eyewear and simple rustic fare, it’s not at all acceptable that they and a major news organisation feel free to share this with the world. I mean, I have relationship quirks. If I were to candidly celebrate these with the New York Times, they would read, “Her partner was surprised but charmed to learn of Helen’s genetically sluggish bowel. On the day that she received a bulk order of psyllium husks, aloe juice and other motility-inducing foods, the secret was out and their future was assured!”

But I wouldn’t. Because it’s a boring assertion of my boring self and my relationship, which is deathly boring to everyone but the two of us, who continue to find it fascinating.

When weddings and marriage tie us less to our kin and community and more to an idealised version of the spectacular self, it’s time to RSVP “no”. Just say you’re turning your compost, or spending the arvo with an “existential” book.

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