Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Mrs Cinderella Rockefeller

Cate really touched a nerve with her post Cinderella Dreams

Like Cate, I too had the big white wedding. We had been cohabiting for the last four of the seven years that we had been together before, after much tearful discussion, he was persuaded that he should ask me to regularise our Union.

I wanted the big dress - ivory in my case since, after living in sin outside the state of Holy Matrimony for all that time, I couldn't exactly claim to be virginal. I insisted on the Church and the vows before an alter to make it more like the Cinderella scenario I had dreamed of in my youth. As opposed to the brazen Miss with a cheque book bearing two different surnames, living over the brush with her paramour and feeling the caustic glance of shame from the checkout assistant at Sainsburys.

I also insisted on a formal wedding because I needed it to keep me in check. Even at that stage, I was wondering if I could make it work. For several years, my love for him had kept my previously flighty and flirtatious nature in check but, as it started to dissipate in the face of his inability to show it in return, I had began to notice other men.

I needed the serious commitment of vows before a Supreme Being to keep me faithful. To ensure that I would not stray. I just wasn't sure that I could trust myself to do it on my own.

I can remember throwing myself into the arrangements for the Wedding, exulting in the togetherness that it engendered in terms of having to make decisions about our Special Day, and attempting to stave off thoughts regarding the possibility that things might not be as rosy once I wore his gold band upon my finger. I carefully ignored the nasty interlopers of my imagination who were trying to pour scorn on my romantic idyll. I pushed them to the farthest reaches of my mind, to join the other voices screaming that I had virtually had to engineer my own marriage proposal and that we were both 'settling'. The truth was that we were like-minded people from similar backgrounds who felt that they could make a successful and comfortable future together.

We're all brought up on the childhood fantasy that we should hang around waiting for the knight on his white charger to come and rescue us. I sometimes wish that someone had done a Cinderella/Snow White/Beauty Revisited just to see if they really did live happily ever after. I think this sort of tale leaves us all (male and female) with unrealistic expectations of what love should be like. It stops us from realising that, after the euphoria of the wedding and honeymoon, we have to work at making the relationship grow and if one partner stops doing that, it's going to be a long, uphill battle to make it work until death do us part.

And you'll notice that the heroine is always rescued by a handsome Prince who turns out to have his own castle and retainers - even if she was not aware of it when she first fell in love with him. I certainly can't think of a pauper that wins the hand of the beautiful eponymous star and walks her off to live on love in penury whilst working her pretty fingers to the bone.

The girls on Sex And the City illustrate the case perfectly. They either date money or have plenty of money of their own. None of them would be happy to live their lives on a meagre wage, no matter how high the man in question set their pedestal, because they just wouldn't be able to afford to maintain their Manhattan lifestyle. Rockefeller princesses, all of them.

For almost 20 years, the vows I had made in that Church kept me silent and faithful in my gilded cage but the girl who romanticised the dream of being adored is still in there... even now.

And, these days, I just want to slap her.


Walker said...

I have never been or ever will be married and loving it.
It has nothing to do with faith or being faithful its all about needing that to tell people you belong to someone or that its what society requires to do.
Persoanlly i think its a conspiracy for others to make money.

I just came back from a wedding that was nice.
The bride was beautiful, the food to much and I had a great time.
Te fact that I got out of there with a Belly Dancer helped lol
It cost the father of the bride 50,000 dollars.
I have another one in September which i am sure will be just as nice but for 150 grand, it better be good.

So who do you think will enjoy the wedding more the people being paid of the ones paying?

I say if you have to get married, elope and feel the experience for the love of it.

Helga Hansen said...

Hhhmmm... I did the ultimatum of "if we're not engaged by the end of the year, I'll be gone", we got engaged on my 23rd birthday, we were married 3 months later, and as my dad didn't approve of my choice of groom, we had to pay for it ourselves. Husband was a (already divorced, 15 years older than me) struggling musician, so money was not in abundant supply!

Seventeen years later, it's certainly not a flowers and romance marriage - in fact, I think the "hot terminology" is de facto divorce. Apparently this situation is not uncommon, which is rather sad, isn't it?

So, hardly a Cinderella story, but perhaps I should have lived a little first before rushing down the aisle??

Ro said...

I think you're being too harsh on yourself. You certainly don't sound as if you went into this expecting "happy ever after"; more likely, you sound as if you wanted so much to make the relationship work and you felt the "vows before a Supreme Being" were the best way you knew how.

It's easy to be wise in hindsight.

So many of us make mistakes. Mine was a wonderful one: when I married #1, we both approached the wedding with doubts and the obvious thing would have been for one or other of us to raise the subject openly so we could discuss them. Of course, we didn't; we both squashed down our fears as we got caught up in the momentum.

The "happy ever after" myth is pervasive, though. And, for what it's worth, I have written the "Revisited" story several times. It never ends well and the only real variable is the amount of humour I inject into the way it goes wrong which depends on my mood at the time!

having my cake said...

Walker - I read a letter from a vicar in The Times on Saturday. She said that people marry each other the moment they start living together and having sex regularly. The wedding ceremony itself just puts an official seal on it, makes it a paper commitment for the sake of the authorities. Whilst I sometimes daydream about what it would be like to be Mrs Ruf and I suspect that he would like to one day have a wife, Im not sure if I actually want to go through it all again. As you say it's like a possession thing.

Helga - I wasnt much older than you when I walked down the aisle and Id already been with him seven years. I cant help but think that I should have slept around a bit first :) De facto divorce sounds very sad but very familiar.

Ro - The omnipresent communication problem! And I'd love to see one of those 'Revisited' stories :)

Anonymous said...

I needed the serious commitment of vows before a Supreme Being to keep me faithful. To ensure that I would not stray. I just wasn't sure that I could trust myself to do it on my own.

Cake, I'm so baffled as to why you'd get married with these kinds of thoughts in your head??

Jackie Adshead said...

Hind sight's a wonderful thing. And if we had the same decisions to make now, they would probably be different to then. BUT, we made the right decisions THEN, based on how we felt. Its only NOW that we realise how much we've changed......

Its not sad (hopefully) to be more worldy wise, its just when we're young the Cinderella life is what we want to prove who we think we are.

Cate said...

Oh, wow! I think you summed up a lot of my marriage in this post. I remember feeling very much the same way when I got married - that I should do it, that we could make it work and that if I made a big deal of the day itself then the happy marriage would follow. How foolish we all can be!

Thank you for the link and the reminder that I am not alone in my Cinderella fantasy. And also that she needs a good slap!

Cate xxx

Semele said...

I've come to the conclusion that you shouldn't be allowed to get married until you're 30 (or at least 28), and you have to have slept with at three previous partners other than your spouse!

President Semele cuts the national divorce rate in half...

Kyra said...

I wrote a whole post about why "I hate disney". I definitely want to present the "revisited" tales to my daughter.

De facto divorce - a great descrption of my marriage.

I also believed I was already married having cohabitated for 4 yrs. Then did the ivory dress / big wedding thing to boot. I can honestly say I had few doubts at that time, though.

PS Semele - I was exactly 28.5 yrs old and had well over 3 lovers at that time. But I do feel President Semele's law would improve things somewhat!

justme said...

I think I agree with the Vicar you mentioned, who says that you are effectively 'married' when you are living together and having sex regularly, rather than when you actually have a ceremony. Although, I would add that having a commitment to stay together for the duration is also a factor.(Mind you, the regular sex bit might mean that many long term couples who are 'officially' married, wouldn't count as married by that definition!)
Given that so many people get divorced, maybe people should stop looking at marriage as a permenant arrangement and see it as more of a fixed term contract which can be renewed or renegotiated with different terms and conditions,at regular intervals.
Legally, I have never been married. But having spent 17 years with a partner and having brought up a child together, I can't see that our divorce was any less traumatic than it would have been if we HAD been married, or that our relationship was any less valid while it lasted.

Ro said...

I have a lot of time for the idea that JustMe raises of fixed-term contracts, renewable by mutual agreement. Deadlines do tend to focus the mind wonderfully, don't they?

Assuming we get all the underpinning right to ensure that children are protected and that the inevitable division of the spoils is equitable it would make it much easier for unhappy partners to separate. It would also ensure that no one felt forced to stay in a relationship that makes them unhappy.

This would certainly recognise that people change and needs change and that, living as long as we do, "till death do us part" may be little more than a stick to beat ourselves with ...

having my cake said...

Isa - With hindsight, you're not the only one :)

Jackie - I think that's it. Maturity brings, hopefully, a bit more wisdom

Cate - We were programmed to think that way from an early age. Goodness knows how today's little girls will cope when they can watch the Princesses all day every day on dvd and their bedrooms are covered in them.

President Semele - I think you may have a very valid point :)

Kyra - I shall go try to find your 'I hate Disney' post.

Justme - LMAO at the officially married couples not having sex and so not being married at all.

MarcelloNYC said...

Marriage is very tuff, I see it with friends whom are marries, and my parents. I am still single and happily single. I enjoy my life, dating etc......

but it is nice to have someone special to share your life, dreams and sad times with, but it does not need to be that perfect wedding to be the perfect marriage. It takes understanding and respect. I believe two people that are already grounded in their lives, career and most importantly - happy with themselves, and comfortable with the idea of being alone - make a happy couple with or without paperwork that says it is legal.

I have two friends in a 28year relationship - gay. They are not "legally married", but have a perfect relationship.

(((HUGS))) HHNT!

Anna S said...

Very true words you speak about the romantic Cinderella dream which is so engrained in our culture.

The weirdest thing is, I still hold on to that dream a bit, despite the fact I know it's all crud, and that my marriage also fits into the de facto divorce category.

Anonymous said...

I was engaged at 21, married at 23. I had doubts, grave doubts. It just seemed to me that no one else would ever want me, so I had better hold onto the one that did. I knew he was a good, reliable man. Nevertheless, the night before the wedding, I cried. And then got up the next morning, put on the Cinderella dress, and walked down the aisle. It took me another 18 years to realize that I had options.