Getting married is something that I have always dreamt of. When I was younger, I imagined myself marrying a woman and having kids, because that is what society expects of men, and that is the expectation that I was taught as a child.
When I got older, however, and once hormones started kicking in, I still dreamt of getting married and having a family one day. The only difference is that I realised that I’d want to marry a man instead.
Currently – as most will know or presume – gay marriage is not yet legal in Éire (or to use the English term, the Republic of Ireland). When the UK government allowed civil partnership, the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) recognised that it would not be too long until they would have to pass a similar bill. As a British citizen (A dual citizen of both Éire and the UK; I was born in London to Irish parents) raised in Ireland, however, I count myself as one of the lucky ones; I could easily take a trip to the British Embassy in Dublin, or take a small trip across the border into Northern Ireland and marry my boyfriend. Having said that, I’m only with him a short while, so maybe I could wait until the Oireachtas pass a law for the Irish.
But what makes us want to get married in the first place? Is it purely a social construct, or is their genuinely something in our hearts that lets us now when we’ve found ‘the one’? What does a piece of paper signify, if one were to ignore the practical aspect of tax benefits, etc.? On the other hand, why do some – both men and women alike – seem to end up happily single for the majority of their lives?
For most, children are raised by married parents. So, from a young age, a child would be directly exposed to the concept of the Couple – a binary of Mother & Father, Woman & Man, and Husband & Wife. Even for those children being raised in environments outside of the ‘norm,’ this binary is still seen by the child because of extended family members; parents of friends, or even simply by the media in the form of cartoons and other storybooks. From personal experience, I can say that while growing up, I noticed that anyone who was without a partner of some sort seemed sad. Our next door neighbour – a middle-aged man living on his own – always seemed as if he was dying to chat with someone. My primary school teacher, who was a widow, always seemed bitter and cranky to me. The happy people were my parents, my paternal grandparents and my best friend’s parents. I could also include my favourite Disney characters at the time, but I think you get the point.
Marriage is a milestone on the path of life that is expected of everyone. If one does not marry, they are perceived to be strange in some aspect; incapable of love, maybe, or socially reclusive, or maybe just perceived as plain ‘weird.’ Most societies of the world expect people to grow up, find a partner, marry and settle down, with the intention of establishing their own family.
So what of the bachelors? Are these the ‘weirdos’ that I’ve just mentioned? Not necessarily, as many self-professed ‘bachelors’ have excellent social and inter-personal skills. Some are too comfortable in their own independent lifestyles to even try to compromise or change their living patterns to tie in with someone else. Some find their own company enough for them, and don’t feel the need to pair off with someone. Some, however, just don’t like the idea of being ‘tied down’ to a relationship and the responsibilities that come with it. For the latter of those categories, I wonder if it’s more just a case of finding the right person…
Still, maybe I’m getting a bit too ahead of myself to be trying to use pop-sociology. For me, I hope that I’ll get married one day to an amazing man who I’ll be madly in love with. I hope that we’ll be able to adopt a child a raise him or her in a loving environment, and I hope that we in Ireland do not have to wait too long to be allowed by our government to do such things. As the Irish say, neosfaidh an aimsir – time will tell.
Scott De Buitléir is a radio presenter for “The Cosmo,” a show for the LGBT community on Irish radio station, RTÉ Pulse. More info at www.rte.ie/digitalradio/pulse