Of course, people still fell in love but that was nothing to do with marriage. Among the aristocracy of the Middle Ages, the highest form of love was considered to be extramarital. In the 16th century, the essayist Montaigne wrote that any man in love with his wife was "a man so dull no one else could love him". Theologians considered loving one's spouse to be a sin — they called it idolatry — because it could interfere with the love of God.
Behind the seismic cultural change towards the love marriage were two things. First, the Industrial Revolution of the late s meant that young people earned a wage and had more control of their own destiny.
Second, this was the period of Enlightenment. Young people started to view human relationships as organised by rationale and justice, rather than by force and birthright. Happiness became a legitimate goal. Then when Queen Victoria walked down the aisle in in an elaborate white gown and accompanied by music, the public was mesmerised. Fancy weddings became the rage.
The fairytale had begun. Commentators were worried about this new ideal. If marriage was based on something as fickle as romantic love, wouldn't such unions be unstable? And guess what?
They were right. According to Elizabeth Gilbert in her marriage memoir Committed, whenever a culture turns its back on arranged marriages in favour of the love-marriage, divorce rates rocket.
Of course, this isn't to say that arranged marriages are the formula for a robust marriage. Rather, it questions whether stringent, life-long unions are the formula for modern society. For the first time in history, marriage and cohabitation are no longer a necessity. As recently as years ago, it was impossible to live alone. There was no sliced bread, online deliveries or washer-dryers. You simply had to shack up. There are now 3. More people are choosing to live alone because they can.
Gender equality has further pushed marriage into the non-essentials category. Just 40 years ago, in some US states, a woman couldn't take out a loan or start a business without her husband's signature.
Another study this week, by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, found that more people are choosing spouses with similar educational backgrounds. Nearly half of graduate men married other graduates in , compared with just a quarter in Gone, it seems, is the boss-secretary marriage, or surgeons marrying nurses. There is a proper word for marrying up the social ladder. It's called hypergamy. Historically, this abounded in times and cultures where one sex had fewer rights. Now that gender roles are blurring, emotional fulfilment usurps social status in the selection of a life partner.
But the problem is that emotional fulfilment is fickle and variable. Even when it comes to starting a family, it is now socially acceptable and financially viable to do so sans spouse. In the s, women who fell pregnant outside wedlock were ushered to mother-and-baby homes and, in some cases, mental asylums. In just 60 years, attitudes have changed so much that there are now two million single parents in the UK and 23 per cent of year-olds grow up in single-parent households.
We now have co-parent matchmaking sites and sperm-donor networks, providing a platform for independent men and women to set the maternity or paternity process in motion, without the hassle of romantic entanglement. When I tell people that I don't fancy the marriage-house-and-kids lifestyle, I'm often asked if I worry about growing old alone.
But I believe that loneliness will soon be a malaise consigned to the history books. Social networking means that we can, with the click of a mouse, make contact with local, niche communities and meet-up groups. Plus, with the number of married and never-married women predicted to be equal by , there will be plenty of people like me flying solo in our dotage. Given such facilitation to remain free from domestic drudgery, it is anachronistic to believe that cohabiting, monogamous, lifelong marriage should be our ultimatum of life.
In my single observatory tower, I see newlyweds hurtle into their new duo routines without acknowledging the magnitude of what they are doing. Commitment is a bigger deal today than it ever has been. Today's 20 and year-olds are likely to have lived away from home, travelled, been to college and experimented with multiple sexual partners before they cede to marriage. Western society encourages individualism, entrepreneurship and self-improvement. We go through adolescence choosing our own friends, careers and pursuits based on our individual needs.
Then, boom, we get hitched and all our decisions, right down to how we load the dishwasher, suddenly have to be made jointly. No wonder so many relationships buckle under the pressures. More research from America this week claims to have found a region inside the brain called the anterior insular, which plays a role in who we select to fall in love with. It is separate to the posterior insular, which makes decisions about who we lust and desire.
This tallies with other, more established research that we have two separate drives for love — the fervent butterflies-in-your-tummy feelings of romantic love and the long-term affectionate feelings of attachment. The fairytale narrative has us seeking both in one person.
But I'm sorry to report that science increasingly proves that they are separate. One of the leading anthropologists in this field of research, Dr Helen Fisher, has examined brain scans of couples in romantic love and those in attachment. For those in romantic love — which could include an unshakeable crush — their systems are flooded with the feel-good chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. Their addiction centres are activated in the same way as addicts craving crack cocaine. It is this delusional state in which we make outlandish promises — such as "till death do us part".
For those in deeper love or "attachment", they emit the hormone oxytocin when they see their partner. This makes them feel love, trust and affection but, alas, the urge to rip their clothes off fades along with the dopamine. Don't shoot the messenger. Like everyone else, I, too, wish I could find a handsome prince who I can lust after and love simultaneously, who will prove to be my inspiration, fireworks in the bedroom, my social prop, career support and DIY enactor all in one.
But it is this expectation for such conflicting roles that leads to relationship failure. What material should they use for the Celtic hand binding?
Then I went shopping. More plumage than Presbyterian. At the end of October, I flew to Madison, Wisconsin, where the happy couple, raised in no religion but culturally Christian, one might say, would be married by a Jewish minister in the Gates of Heaven Synagogue. The midth century building—which is now an historic landmark, used by the public for a variety of purposes—had a balcony, where the women had sat in yesteryear, and a bimah , where I stood while the bride processed down an aisle so narrow her voluminous gown brushed the sides of the pews.
It brought me back to the night in western Massachusetts when her mother had lifted her long shirt and I had placed my hand against her hard belly. I worked very hard not to cry as she approached. This is not about you , I told myself each time I felt a catch in my throat.
This is not about you. The reception was held at a farmhouse just outside Madison, decorated with pumpkins, Indian corn, and baskets of candy bars. When I took in the guests milling about, I began to laugh. And there was my own former husband, with flowing white hair, red suspenders, and ill-fitting thrift-shop jacket. His girlfriend was beside him. I waved my arms and hurried to their table.
It's insanely frustrating and filled with setbacks and disappointments. External Reviews. Comedy Musical Romance. George Bastian Phyllis Povah She is a gentle giant. Missing Movies. Because I often do think about that statement and wonder if it's true.
I was so happy to be single. Head over heels. Drunk with love. He was not a man my mother would have chosen for me—raised as a Catholic, fifteen years my senior. Though gainfully employed, there was something feckless about him that I found charming, and my mother must have known it would be useless to express her opinions.
And I gotta tell ya, it's a bit unsettling to hear that phrase ad nauseam for your entire life when you're in fact a girl who did not dream of this. not be the marrying kind meaning: If a man is not the marrying kind, he does not want to be married. People sometimes use this phrase. Learn more.
I was gone, could hear no objections. It took one afternoon to plan my wedding to this man. We booked the date: July 15, Then my mother and I walked to MacDougal Street, where I bought a Mexican wedding dress, with a square neck and voluminous bell sleeves. This I wore with a floppy white hat that had daisies woven through the brim. On the day of our wedding, the judge biked to the Village from arraignment court, arriving about an hour before the ceremony.