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Could a marriage back-up plan really work?

1 Jun

According to a recent Australian survey, nearly 40% of single people in NSW are prepared to consider a marriage back-up plan, that is, a pact with  friend whereby if both are still single by a certain age, they agree they’ll marry. Let’s look at that figure again. 40%. That’s nearly 1 in 2 people. That seems quite incredible to me. Admittedly, the ‘survey’ was carried out by a computer software company called PC Tools – not exactly the Bureau of Statistics. But even if the figures are out by a couple of percent, it’s still a very high number. Do I actually think that any of the 40% would actually make good on their pact? Not at all. However, it does tell us a little bit about young people’s attitudes towards marriage.
 Clearly, the singles out there still believe that, ‘if you like it then you better put a ring on it’ (thanks Beyonce). They want marriage – why else would they be making a back up plan for it? However thinking that you can marry a friend, without there being a deeper love underpinning it, displays a deep confusion about just what it takes for marriage to succeed. I guess in theory it seems possible. In India, many many marriages are ‘arranged’ and the divorce rate in that country is among the lowest in the world. Perhaps they’re on to something – maybe love is something that can grow in a marriage. Or perhaps many of those marriages are unhappy ones, but it’s just not socially acceptable to get divorced. Here in Australia, about one in three marriages end in divorce. And – is it any wonder when young people think they can marry a friend and all will be OK. Even when you’re deeply in love, marriage takes effort – putting someone else’s needs above your own doesn’t always come naturally. And then there are the day to day annoyances – wet towels being left on the floor, the toilet seat always being up, your wife using your razor to do their armpits etc, etc. Sometimes, it’s hard enough to be married to someone you really love, let alone someone you just like a lot. It’s kind of like the difference between climbing Mount Kosciuszko and Mount Everest – both take effort, but one is achievable, the other less so. So – my advice to singles out there – don’t settle for marrying a good mate, hold out for your soul mate. Because when the going gets tough, you’ll have a basis of deep love and commitment to help you through. Friendship in a marriage is certainly important (crucial in fact) but it’s not everything. When times are tough, you might not like your husband/wife very much – but at least, deep down, you know you love them. 


Valentines Day Viewing

14 Feb

For once, I actually did something ‘valentiny’ for Valentine’s Day. I went to the movies to see a romantic comedy. Unfortunately, I didn’t go with my ‘love’. Instead, I went with my six week old baby to a ‘mums and bubs’ session, while my dear husband took our toddler to a park. This is what acts of true love are like when you’re married with kids. It’s not about candlelit dinners and choccies. It’s about giving your partner some toddler-free time. That’s true love. The movie in question was ‘No Strings Attached’ starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, a ridiculously good-looking couple who enter into a relationship as ‘sex friends’ and end up in love. Sorry, too late for the spoiler alert. Maybe I should have warned that this post will divulge the movie’s ending. But really, in the first two seconds of the film you already know it’s going to end up happily ever after with the main protagonists walking off hand in hand into the sunset.
One of the most important scenes takes place on Valentine’s day, where ‘Adam’ (Ashton Kutcher) has organised a supremely romantic date with his sex friend ‘Emma’ (Natalie Portman). It made me think back to my own experiences of Valentines Day and how, as a teenager, I would tentatively open the letter box and peer in, hoping with all my heart for a card from my blonde-haired crush on the school bus declaring his undying love for me. It never happened. I never got a cracker. Nada. Zip. Nothing. Meanwhile, girls in the ‘cool’ group at school would receive massive bunch of flowers from mysterious paramaours they’d met on the daily train to school. The train seemed a much more successful boyfriend-finding service than the bus. Valentines Day remained a profoundly disappointing experience right through my twenties. I always managed to be boyfriend-less on Feb 14. It wasn’t until I met my husband that Valentines Day became vaguely enjoyable. He’s the only Valentine I have ever had, and will ever have. Today, as I watched the on-screen couple suffer through the angst of actually figuring out their relationship, I looked down at my peaceful, sleeping bundle and thought – thank god I’m not back there. I don’t mean to sound smug and I don’t mean that you can’t be happy if you’re single. Of course you can. But in my single twenties, I certainly wondered who I would grow old with. And now I have my answer. On Feb 14, I don’t bother checking the letterbox any more. And Valentines Day is the happier for it.