Simon Day: For love's sake

Despite his generation often being slammed as impatient, promiscuous, and entitled, Simon Day chose love — and marriage.
Love match: The author and his brand new bride. Picture / Susannah Blatchford Photography
Love match: The author and his brand new bride. Picture / Susannah Blatchford Photography

On the morning of our wedding as I sat in front of my laptop writing my speech, I wondered what was the point of it all? What was the point of spending so much money on feeding other people, and getting them drunk? What was the point in signing a certificate when before the law we were considered married anyway?

I'd never doubted my love, nor my desire to marry Millie, but in the final few days leading up to our wedding, as a forecast southerly change bringing heavy rain started to lather me in stress (we didn't have a plan B for our very outdoor ceremony), I began to question what we were doing.

But as I took the microphone in front of my family and favourite friends, I understood why everyone was here: for love. Because love is something really special, something worth celebrating, and something worth publicly and symbolically committing to.

In my vows I promised to love Millie more than I love cricket. But the fact the two relationships - one an addiction to a sport, the other a complete devotion to another human - can be put in the same sentence, with the same word, underlies the English language's poor ability to articulate the concept of love.

The love we all think we want is the Hollywood period of absolute infatuation, when you can't keep from ripping off each other's clothes, when your every thought seems to finish with your partner. But the love I have for Millie, and the foundation of our marriage, is so different. It matured from that state of obsessiveness and became an existential dependence. I love coming home to someone who is genuinely fascinated by the mundanities of my everyday life. I love her because she is so encouraging and believing of my work. I love the portion of her sense of humour reserved just for me. I love her entrepreneurial sass. I love dancing to Justin Bieber with her while we get ready to go out.

This summer has truly been the season of weddings, at least one a weekend. Each has been unique. A Registry Office wedding attended by only the family; the marriage of high school sweethearts who have been together since 17; and a second marriage, where the virginal white dress was switched up for gold. Our wedding was an individual expression of who we are, and our love for each other.

So much of a wedding's traditions are tied to marriage's anachronistic origins. Marriage was once a form of diplomacy and economic development. Peace was maintained between tribes and villages through marriage.

When I visited India I learned about how farmers would marry their daughters to the sons of restaurant owners, to guarantee a supply chain. It was a transactional relationship, acquiring a piece of property from a father.

When Millie's father was about to give her away, he checked with her if she was still comfortable being my bride. It was part theatre, but also recognition that this decision was of her own free will, with her family's blessing. There was certainly no discussion of obedience in our vows.

To call Millie my wife has no undertones of ownership. To be called her "husband" feels like an honorific title.

I consider myself a bit of a feminist, so the day after our wedding we had a game of cricket to determine who would pick the family name. Millie's family and a selection of friends, against my family and friends in a 25-over game. To be honest, the stakes were more of a gimmick to convince our guests to watch a bunch of hungover amateur sportsmen play cricket but, as Millie's team started to close in on the target, I started to feel a sense of propriety over my surname and to take things embarrassingly seriously. My team held on for the victory and we have both held on to our original family names.

I had stolen the idea from a lesbian couple who, once granted the right to marriage, realised there was no tradition to guide who took whose name.

So they played a game of soccer to decide.

This year a 28-year-old friend - Rachel Craig - became a marriage celebrant. This was originally specifically for my brother's wedding coming in March but Rach appears to have found her vocation. During the application she discovered that the legal requirements of the service were actually tiny, and most of what you see at a ceremony was tradition rather than requirement.

"I think one of the reasons marriage in 2016 is special is due to the increased diversity of society and freedom of self-expression that enables people to not only celebrate their diversity but sing it from the rooftops in front of friends and family on their wedding day," she says.

And it is because of this greater equality now a part of the institution of marriage - including the right of same-sex couples to be married - that its symbolic power is stronger than ever. My generation is so often condemned as impatient, promiscuous, and entitled. But despite shifting jobs - and cities, - whenever there is a better option, so many of my friends have committed to their partners.

Since we married everyone keeps asking if things have changed, do we feel different? Honestly, I don't. But I do feel as if we have created a path. Millie and I had a history, now we have a future.

At times marriage feels like a huge commitment, membership of a massive institution; but in a card, my godmother captured the essence of why we entered the partnership, and how to succeed: "Remember if you are always saying to one another: 'What can I do to make you happy?' you will have a long, fulfilling and happy marriage."

- Canvas

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