Marriage went against my feminist principles – but the pandemic changed everything | Candice Brathwaite


I was not like most brides. Unlike my classmates, who loved playing kiss chase and using their blazers as veils and the chalk hopscotch outline as a walkway, I was more interested in reading and making up stories than dreaming up weddings. As I got older, I was able to use countless examples of unhappy marriages I had seen around me as an excuse for my budding lifestyle with Carrie Bradshaw. Getting a notification on Facebook about classmates dating has never moved or bothered me. And when I heard about glamorous six-figure, three-day wedding parties in Greece or Morocco, all I could think was, “Isn’t the bride tired?”

More importantly, there was no practical incentive to marry me. Five decades ago this would have been helpful as I would have needed a husband to even have a bank account, but luckily things had changed so much that marriage was no longer a necessity.

But then three things happened. First, someone I found entertaining and caring came into my life; and surprisingly year after year we seemed to be able to compromise just enough that we ended up being together for a decade. Second, life – that is, I gave birth to it – unfolded, and I now had to think about how being unmarried might affect my children when they get married. was about managing things like wills and estates. The third and final nail in my “never married” coffin was the pandemic, which of course reminded us all of what really matters, and forced us to think hard about the choices we would make once we were allowed to make more than going around our nearest park.

There were other layers to this decision. In 2021, my partner and my son became very ill with chickenpox, the latter being sick enough to be hospitalized. What is usually a simple childhood illness turned out to be very serious for a grown man. My two boys were down and out. It wasn’t just the physical burden of being the only parent who could stay in the hospital, but the worry that neither of them would make it. My father died suddenly in 2009 complications derived from ordinary flu – this experience had given me a propensity to think the worst.

No one knows us better than our phones. One night in the hospital at my son’s bedside, after he was woken up by the kind nurses to have his routine injections for a secondary infection, I tried to get back to sleep while scrolling through social media. That’s when I came across a video of a woman whose 12-year-old boyfriend had become very ill and had to be airlifted to hospital. When she tried to go with him, she wasn’t allowed, because she wasn’t married to him. She ended the video by telling people that if they know they are with “their person”, it should be done on paper. Because now, more than ever, we just didn’t know when we would find ourselves in a situation where we had no say at all.

Now that made sense to me. While dresses and the idea of ​​going into debt for the pleasure of a night out had never interested me, the practicality and security of a union with my partner became a priority.

It seems that I was not alone. This year will be a bumper year for weddings, with around 550,000 events scheduled post-lockdown, after 264,000 couples had to postpone in 2020, according to the UK Weddings Taskforce, the industry trade body. When the American magazine Brides surveyed 4,000 readers, it found that 82% of them thought that living through the pandemic had made them want to get married more than before. And, while the pressures of Covid and subsequent lockdowns have truly been the final straw for many relationships, many of us are now encouraged to run to the altar, rather than away from it, as lockdown life with our partners turned out better than expected

A few months after the end of the last confinement, we went to our local registry office. The woman handing out the wedding dates warned us that due to the pandemic backlog we had to wait 18 months for a slot. Do we understand that, she asked.

“Yeah,” we both said. We had already done our research and realized that we had to wait our turn. Besides, what was 18 months to the 10 years that we had already been together?

Moments later, the mood changed. “Well, it’s your lucky day: I just refreshed the system and it looks like the next available date is seven weeks away. Desire ? »

Later that day, when we realized we had less than two months to plan a wedding, we agreed that instead of being afraid of a date so soon, we were actually very grateful – the the sooner the better. The past two years had shown us how much we couldn’t control, and it seemed like the only thing we could, to make sure whoever stood between us would have a say in our family and finances. .

Since the big day a few months ago, outwardly nothing has changed. He still has a way of liking the dishwasher loaded, and I like having an hour to myself every night. But inside, there was a change. I have to be honest and say this is evidenced by the respect the rest of the world gives to our union. The other day we went to the bank to do some administration.

“Thank God you’re married!” cried the clerk. Seeing our expressions, she added hastily, “I’m sure you two are very much in love, but it just gives me a lot less paperwork to do!” She laughed and I couldn’t help but join her. She was, like me, looking at marriage for the practicality that it is. A woman after my heart.


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