So I’ve booked Claridges and am going out to find a dress. I’ll ask mum to make the cake and I’ll see if my sister’s cat will be the bridesmaid. She was going to call her Spin – short for Spinster, just to freak mum out – but then she fell in love with a male kitten who looked grumpy and ready for a fight – so he is called Rocky instead. Can you have a male feline bridesmaid? I’m sure in this kind of wedding you can. He is a VERY good looking cat.
Anyway – I am not marrying the Greek or the hot guy who works in the organic shop. No, I am marrying myself.
This is a thing apparently.
On Thursday night I went to an event in Camden and listened to two women talk about why they had married themselves. It’s called Sologomy.
Donna Lancaster did it on her fiftieth birthday. She had a ceremony in a tiny church with her best friend as a witness. They were in Austria and she wanted to do it in the Sound of Music church but that one was closed so they found another. There was confetti and a cake afterwards.
For Donna it marked the end of a life of self – destruction and self-criticism.
She explained: ‘For many years I spent so much energy negatively judging and berating myself. Too slow, too fat, too stupid, not good enough…blah blah blah went my inner critic. And then I tried to undo this by only focusing on what I considered good and acceptable in myself and to reject the rest. Warrior style. ‘I am strong and powerful, I can do anything!!’ Yawn. Then of course there were the years of desperate yearning for a man (daddy) to see (save) me. Cue tumbleweed.’
And at fifty she decided: enough. She would commit to loving herself every day and to not tolerate bad behaviour from others. She was going to love herself on her bad days and good, she was going to love herself even when she behaved in embarrassing ways. She was going to love herself for better and worse.
Majella Greene, on the other hand, found herself buying a diamond ring after a bad break up and the death of her parents. It was a spur of the moment decision.
For years she’d been in unsuitable relationships in an attempt to tick the boxes she thought you were meant to tick. But at a certain point she realised she was contorting herself to fit in a life that was never right for her.
Majella now practices something called ‘Relationship Anarchy’ – which is where no one person is made special in your life. You treat everybody the same. I’d never heard of it before.
We talked about how even now a woman’s social status is largely defined by whether she is married or not and how to be single still comes with the implication that you have not been chosen. There is something wrong with you. You are unwanted, on the shelf etc.
Men are not defined this way – even down the fact that they can just be called Mr while women are Miss or Mrs. A woman in the audience talked about how she asks to be referred to as Ms. in correspondence but her solicitor refused to use it. So she started sending him letters that addressed him as Mrs. Ha!
Marrying yourself means making a commitment to loving yourself every day and loving even the bits of yourself that you don’t like. It means standing up for yourself when people take the piss. It means roasting yourself a whole chicken if you fancy it. Just for you. And eating it at a table with a candle.
It means realising that you are whole and good right now, you do not need someone else to validate you.
I’d never heard of this concept until last week and now this morning I’ve seen a piece in the Guardian about it. The Primadonna Literary Festival, which promotes work by women, has announced it will feature a wedding chapel where people can book in to wed themselves.
Novelist Marian Keyes has said she’ll be first in line to ‘marry herself’. And it doesn’t matter that she is already married. You can marry yourself and have relationships with others too. One of the founders of the festival, comedian Sani Toksvig says: ‘The point is to show a commitment to being kind and good to the most important person in your life: you.’
Toksvig got the inspiration to do this after reading about actress Emma Watson’s announcement that she was ‘self-partnered’.
So maybe this crazy idea isn’t so crazy after all.
It feels like a lot things are changing these days and how we configure our relationships are just part of that.
I haven’t really booked Claridges. And I won’t look for a dress. But I have been thinking about what vows I could make to myself: to stop putting myself down, or always feel like I’m a slightly lesser person than my friends who are married and have kids. To stop apologising for everything, to stop saying ‘yes’ to things I don’t want to do…
The idea of making a promise to being good to yourself and to love yourself felt quite beautiful and radical when I heard Donna and Majella speak. I expected to go in and roll my eyes at it all – and I walked out thinking, actually we should all be doing this.
So I’m going to think about it. I might even roast a chicken and ask mum to make a cake. Why not?
Mind you, last time I put chicken in the oven the fire brigade turned up. No joke. I’d put chicken Kievs in the oven, and went upstairs to have a shower and then the phone rang and next thing I knew the doorbell was going and there were fireman at the door. Turns out I’d burned the forgotten Kievs and the whole kitchen was full of black smoke. The smoke alarm that I thought I’d disabled (I often burn things) was still connected to the local fire station.
‘What happened?’ the firemen asked. ‘I tried to cook.’ I said.
You see, I’d never make a traditional wife.
PS – look, you can buy kits to do it! https://imarriedme.com
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