We live in an era of change, an age that future generations will look back at in awe. We are accepting new ideas, defying stereotypes and slowly allowing everyone the right to free speech. We go where we want, wear what we want and live the lives we want to live not the ones forced upon us by all-powerful religious institutions. Our grandparents did not have this luxury. Their teenage years meant one thing and one thing only – the race to find a life partner was on. There was no extra-marital sex, contraception was a dirty word and the parish priest often called a halt on relationships he disapproved of.
Unsurprisingly, marriage was extremely popular. If you wanted to live with a significant other, it really was the only option. You couldn’t give things a go, or even have a trial. You signed on the dotted line and made a life commitment. This can be hard to even imagine in a time when sugar daddies fund college fees and you swipe a screen to find the love of your life.
Women had a shelf life and a ticking biological clock often became a point of conversation. “You would have big problems if you were thirty and not married” explained seventy-three-year-old Kathleen Kirwan. Kathleen was twenty-three years young when she got married. Living in sin was usually not an option in rural communities.
“The parish priest would be down and he would have you marching up the altar the following week.” How many of these holy matrimonies were built on love and not pure convenience? Are we turning into a generation that avoids commitment? I’m not sure.
Surprise pregnancies could be worse than a death sentence. “If you got pregnant you were forced to be married or be put away in a home.” Even when parents agreed to keep their pregnant daughter, the final word was given to the parish priest. “The parish priest would force her out of the parish.”
We can now get married in warm stylish hotels – this was unheard of not so long ago. People now cater their weddings to suit themselves, not social norms. Weddings can be expensive and take valuable time to plan. Many would prefer to use their hard-earned cash to travel to the Canaries than to traipse down the aisle in a draughty local church. Many prefer to show their love in less traditional means. The truly, wonderful thing is that there is no right answer.
Is marriage dead? That’s open to interpretation. Surely that must mean that those taking the step are doing so solely of their own free will. Marriage is no longer an escape clause, a way of avoiding a hideous fate or a way to keep Fr. John from down the road happy. Marriage has evolved. It is not dead.
Still here? Read next: Red Sparrow: Review