THE BLOG

The Mathematics of Marriage

11/02/2015 12:12 GMT | Updated 12/04/2015 10:59 BST

All my friends are getting married. And with Valentines day coming up, engagements seem to be popping up everywhere. Today at work, some of 'the girls' were crowded around a colleague who had just returned from a holiday to New York, chatting away excitedly. Being a curious cat, I asked what was going on. My colleague gracefully lifted her hand up to my eye level, and lo and behold, upon her forth finger there lay a newly nested diamond ring.

Nice, congratulations, good work. Those are the things I would presume would come out of my mouth. But instead, totally unexpected to me, and probably my colleagues too, I was overcome by an instinctive rush of excitement and started squealing like a 13 year old girl who's just seen Nick Carter (or maybe its Justin Bieber these days, I don't know, I'm not down with the kids). Either way, I found myself, unexplainably, in an uncontrollable frenzy. For the next 10 minutes I would squeal, pause and catch my breath, catch sight of the ring, and then squeal some more. Repeat x 5. What was odder still, was that I felt some sort of sisterly connection with this girl, even though I don't think I even know her boyfriend/fiancée's name?!

Those who know me well will know this is totally unlike me. I would like to think of myself as forward thinking, and as far as I'm concerned, marriage is entirely backwards. I just don't understand its place in modern society. Why do people get married? Because they want to show their love and commitment to their partner? Because they believe it will bring some sort of stability or security to their lives? Because their parents and parents before that did it? Or maybe because they just want to have an excuse to throw a big party and show off their happiness. Excuse me for being a cynic but none of these validations convince me that marriage is worthwhile.

Don't get me wrong, my problem is not with love, nor with romance. As tough as I like to act, I have a heart, and a pretty open one at that. Just like every other 8 year old girl, I dreamed of falling in love and settling down, making a home and raising a family. I even dreamed of a pet dog, despite the fact that I am very much a cat lover. But when I do eventually find that someone and choose to share my life with them, why do I need to prove my love by signing a contract? They won't need a piece of paper to know I love them. Nor should they need said paper to know that I will try my hardest to be faithful to them. If someone's going to be unfaithful, paper isn't going to make a very strong barrier to prevent them from doing so. Hogarth's Marriage a La Mode should stand as a perfect example of that. If marriage pre-eighteenth century was defined by status, wealth, power and reproduction, then why should we presume it is any different now?

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Hogarth - Marriage a la Mode

I've talked about this with many, many people. In fact, I probably purposefully bring it up in the hope that someone will prove me wrong, that they will pick up on some hidden word-play that will solve the riddle. I know it's very lame of me, but I almost see this as a mathematical equation. Marriage is the answer, I know that. But what does that equate? Love to the power of infinity x desire for security? Or maybe...

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From what people have described, this seems pretty right. Only problem is, if this equation is correct then

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That all seems pretty crippling to me.

Maybe I'm over rationalising marriage, maybe it's meant to all come from the heart, and maybe today's events showed me that somewhere deep down, unbeknownst to me, I have some kind of yearning for the idyllic traditional love they dwell on in films.

Or maybe Hogarth was right, and marriage is now, and always has been, a farce.

Answers on a postcard please. Preferably in mathematical form.