There are a few of my friends who have kids, who aren’t married. It’s not a thing, that they’re not married, but every now and again, usually over drinks, the subject of them getting married comes up. It often involves other (usually married) people exhorting those who are unmarried, to get married, usually with the refrain ‘just so we can have a big party’ and often ends with the unmarried looking bemused and changing the subject whilst the married carries on talking about big parties and getting all your old friends together in one place (weddings often being the only event, other than funerals, where that actually happens and none of us need more funerals in order to see our old friends).
I’m aware, during these conversations, what the unmarrieds are thinking. They’re thinking that all the married’s think that the only way of living together is to have signed a piece of paper, put a ring on one’s finger and have the aforementioned big party to announce to the world that you’re a committed and dedicated couple. The unmarrieds possibly think that the marrieds have been lied to, that actually, being unmarried doesn’t mean that you’re not committed, that you can still have a strong and exclusive relationship, without a ring and a party.
I don’t think that many unmarrieds in this day and age necessarily meant to stay unmarried – in this time of quickie divorces no one is under the illusion that marriage means for life, so it’s not a fear of commitment which has kept them from having the party. I think most people (who I know) who haven’t got married, just simply haven’t got round to it. They got together, lived a bit, had babies, spent money on a house, lived some more and then suddenly, we’re in our 40’s and getting married just seems like, frankly, a waste of time and possibly money.
But in this book, two couples take center stage and one couple is married, and another – isn’t. They both have kids, they have both been together for a while, they are to all intents and purposes in the same situation – other than one had a ceremony to announce their relationship, and one didn’t.
There are some good subplots and the characters are interesting, likable, controversial, challenging and frustrating and there is a conclusion to it which I found interesting, if only because it raised this issue – is a relationship stronger because you’re married? And would the outcome of your life together be different if you were, or weren’t married?
I don’t think there is a definitive answer, but I love a party, and if those unmarried friends of mine stopped being so selfish and got married, we could all have a good old knees up and isn’t that always a good thing?