Is marriage really necessary? What’s the most you’d spend on a wedding? Is there anything economic about the whole thing? We ask a range of young people from around the globe how they feel about marriage, weddings and the economics of being in love.
Is marriage necessary?
Susan: ”I think of marriage like cutlery – it's importance or necessity depends on culture and context but as a universal rule – I don't think it is – hands work just as well!”
Marco: “I think as an institution, it's kind of fashionable in leftie circles to be against it. But I do think as an institution it's quite a good thing.”
Jess: “It’s important to make sure that choice is allowed to everyone. If two people want to marry so they can legally be a family they should be allowed to.”
Patrick: “People survived for a long time before the institute of marriage came along. But there are definitely some pressures and expectations from society to make us think that it is necessary.”
Is marriage an economic decision in any way?
Susan: “If I were to get married I’d hope that would mean my circumstances would be improved or strengthened. So yes, the economics of it all would factor in.”
Nada: “In Egypt marriage is all about money in my opinion. It is a custom for the man to own a house before proposing to a woman who has to then fill it up with furniture and decoration.”
Marco: “Um... not for me, but for some people. You get a cheaper mortgage…”
Alexandra: “Yes – I hear it has tax benefits.”
Grace, Malaysia: “Many couples from my parents’ generation (including mine) got married so they could get the financial benefits of a combined income.”
Kasey, 26, China: “Marriage can affect the economic chances of the two families.”
What’s the most you’d spend on a wedding?
Susan, “I haven't thought that far ahead but I expect my family will spend a lot. I'm the only girl and weddings have become a hugeeee deal in my country.”
Nada: “Everyone wants a princess-like wedding with every detail being perfect. But you'd have to spend 30-40K or more! If you have just a tiny bit of consciousness to how much that represents in the unequal world we live in today - it would make you sick to the stomach.”
Marco, “You could make a meaningful wedding with less money. You don't need to spend a lot to show how much it's worth to you.”
Jess: “I can’t imagine spending that much on a party where for the most part I’d be stuck having my photo taken.”
Ashley, 27, North Carolina, USA: “However much money it takes to have a killer party with friends, family, food, music & booze. I guess i'd probably buy a new dress too.”
Grace: "I’d say five thousand pounds (GBP), but hope I’d break even with the red packets I’d receive!"
What would it take for you to want to buy a house with someone?
Susan: “Well, culturally, there's no way I could buy and live in a house with a partner/man if we weren't married.”
Alexandra: “Commitment to spending a significant portion of my life with them, and knowledge of living in the same place for the next five or so years with a stable job."
Ashley: “At this point in my life, i'm more likely to buy a house with my partner than to marry him. my partner & i have discussed buying a house/houses to renovate & resell.”
Would you ever marry someone you didn’t love because you thought they’d be a good influence on you or give you security?
Susan: "I couldn't marry someone whose company I didn’t enjoy but I don't think romantic love is everything. I'd be more concerned about whether they’re supportive, compassionate, display good fatherly attributes, steadfast, loyal and if they can also provide me security, then yeah I may choose them over someone I'm 'madly in love with'."
Nada: “I do have to admit the idea is hovering at the back of my mind. Marrying into an "economically secure" family would make everything easier and smoother for my family.”
Jess: “Marriage for me has to be about love in some way otherwise it’s just a contract.”
Ashley: "No, i can't imagine that i would ever marry simply for security. i don't need a bodyguard with a bank account."
How do your views on marriage differ from your parents?
Susan: “My mom fundamentally believes that marriage requires submission. But I think people make mistakes and people change. If it's not working – I'm out. I will not submit to someone who is wrong.”
Nada: “I am blessed to have very kind and loving parents who want nothing but my happiness... but happiness has to come with a price tag with them. The three criterias are: 1. Muslim, 2. Steady job and good income, 3. Good family. They believe in love and happiness yet they also believe in choosing the right groom.”
Kasey: “My marriage values are totally different from my parents'. My parents are very traditional Chinese, they get married quite early and they think marriage is a necessity in life, but I do not think so.”
Would your parents choice of partner influence your decision to marry them?
Susan: “I think they are more sensitive to the things that make a good marriage than I could be – especially if I'm enamored with someone. So their opinion matters.”
Nada: “This is my current major dilemma – the inevitable choice between what I want, and what my parents want. I love my parents in a way that is indescribable. I feel very torn about my current situation with a half french half spanish partner. He truly makes me happy. But my parents doubts and anger is making me doubtful and scared.”
Marco: “I don't really know a situation in which I'd have a partner and they would hate her. I think that's very unlikely. I presume I'd still go for it, but I just don't see this happening.
Jess: “Probably in some way. I do have many of the same values as my parents so if they don’t think my partner is a good person I would take that into consideration.”
Ashley: “My parents' opinion of my partner definitely carries much more weight than it did ten years ago. when you're a teenager, coming-of-age, you tend to end up in relationships that are quite the opposite of your parents' ideal.”
Grace: “Yes, I’ve learned many times that mom and dad always know what’s best! All with a pinch of salt of course.”
What does the word marriage make you think of, in one word?
Susan: "Social contract."
Alexandra: "White dresses."
Participants were asked to describe their socio-economic, ethnic, cultural background however they wished. See below for their answers:
Susan is a 25 year old third culture kid who has lived in Africa, Asia and the U.S. and is currently calling London home.
Marco is a Belgian, upper middle class, white, male, 26 years old.
Nada is a 23 year old, Egyptian Muslim female. She’s lived in 8 different countries, feels tied to her religion and origins but also the different cultures she’s experienced.
Jess is 22, female, cosmopolitan, and grew up in a white family which has lived in multiple countries.
Kasey is 26 years old. She is Chinese and works in a consultancy in Beijing, earning an above average income.
Ashley is a 28 year old, unmarried, mostly heterosexual female from a white, middle class family that hails from a small, mediocre city in North Carolina.
Patrick is a 28 year old male, tertiary educated middle class, white Australian from British ancestry.
Alexandra is a 23 year old feminist who has been in a long distance relationship for 3 years. She comes from a white, middle class family in the south of England.
Grace is 26, female, Chinese Malaysian from a upper middle class family, who grew up in the capital of Malaysia and am fortunate enough to have gone abroad for university and now work.