Lately it is becoming all too frequent to receive texts from friends whose partners have proposed and my Facebook feed is inundated with photographs of diamond rings or of their relationship status changing from “in a relationship” (or more worryingly “it’s complicated”) to “engaged”.

In the western world of today, it is generally accepted that marriage is now a matter of choice and is no longer a requirement for couples to live together without social condemnation. Yet, some students at University and even younger couples are choosing to enter into long engagements whilst saving enough money for the wedding of their dreams.

Why? Perhaps the promiscuous nature associated with student life leads loved up couples to feel the need for a grand gesture of commitment or, perhaps some couples want to follow in the traditional footsteps of their parents and grandparents. Some strict religious groups may still affect the younger generations of today, pressuring them into marriage before they can freely participate in a sexual relationship. Alternatively, some young people may find the sentimental, romantic view of marriage appealing and see no reason not to progress to the next stage of a relationship – marriage.

Personally, I have been in a relationship now for over two years and feel no need to be engaged, despite some hints from others: “Ooh so when are you getting engaged?” Perhaps it is my uncomfortable attitude to the traditional nature of marriage as a contract between men for financial advantage or, perhaps it is my fear that 42% of marriages are now predicted to end in divorce. Another viewpoint may be that the ease of gaining a divorce, in comparison to our predecessors, has made the concept of marriage less of a serious, binding decision and couples now havea more casual approach to marriage. Maybe our generation is influenced by the celebrity culture of flashy weddings followed by divorce i.e. the 10 week marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries and are less likely to honour the “until death do us part” vow…

I believe that young men and women should think about spending their money on travelling the world and moving forward with their careers before making the decision to marry, now that the social climate has made this an available option. Anyway, why do we need a piece of paper, or to change our surnames to prove that we love someone?

Eleanor Westwood


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