To settle down with the love of your life, or to simply “settle”: that is the question. And it’s one that immediately provokes many others – like what does “settling” mean in practice, for example, and is it always a bad thing?
For many of us, the dreams of securing a Disney-prince type have long been filed away with other fantasies such as getting over six hours sleep and affordable housing in London. But is marrying for love really such a luxury?
According to a conversation sparked by one Twitter user, for many, it is. Toni Tone posted the following controversial quote after coming across it on Instagram: "Most men don't marry the woman they love(d) the most. They marry the woman that is around when they are ready to marry." She then asked her followers to give their thoughts: do most men marry for love, convenience, timing or a combination?
And the answers were fascinating. As with most Twitter debates, people couldn’t agree – her tweet garnered thousands of responses and opinions were split firmly down the middle. But Toni posted a number of thought-provoking responses from the men who agreed that were particularly eye-opening:
“I married the woman who helped my heart heal when the woman I loved left me for another guy, because I wasn’t ready,” said one anonymous user. “I married her because I know she’s someone I could live without fear of heartbreak or cheating.”
“A lady I was dating wanted to get married so bad,” came another reply. “In our first year of the relationship, she was asking my colleagues when am I buying the ring. A random dude came and three months later he proposed and she was gone.”
One man even married his current wife at age 20, after seeing his uncle’s failed marriage to a woman he didn’t love as a cautionary tale:
“I can honestly say I married the woman who I fell in love with,” he said. “Although I was young when I did it, I had an uncle who married a woman because he was 36 at the time, but bypassed the woman that he loved at the time. And I knew that couldn’t happen to me. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary.”
Toni’s thread is full of highs and lows; lost loves and regrets as well as surprisingly fruitful relationships borne from 'settling'
The general thrust of many of the replies Toni posted was “boy meets girl, boy isn’t ready to be with girl, girl finds someone who is”. For years, society has told us men mature later than women – “boys will be boys” is an alibi still used for fully grown men. The assumption is that women are always wives in waiting, while men are wild stallions, to be captured and tamed against their will and better judgement. In the same way many women speak of feeling pressured to settle down, many men spoke of feeling pressured not to.
It’s a thread of missed connections and “what ifs”. But, as some users said, if the timing is wrong for both parties, then perhaps they weren’t the right person after all? While many saw the stories of those who married based on timing instead of love as tragedies, there were several positive examples of people who were better off for doing so:
“After the one I loved decided she had had enough of me, she walked and my wife came along,” said one respondent. “We met in February and by June, we were married.” He continued that now, his wife “is the woman I have loved the most”.
Many readers also pointed out this certainly isn’t a men-only issue. With the worry of economic stability, the ever-present proverbial shelf, pressure from grandchild-hungry parents and the dreaded ticking of the biological clock, women are as prone to marrying based on timing, too. Marriage is often seen as something that just “happens” to women (“We marry who is around when they are ready for marriage,” argued one female user) but responses to the thread showed women making decisions with the same reasoning.
“I have a lot of women in my life that have been married for years that got married just because they were in their mid twenties,” said one woman. “Everyone around them put pressure on them because they all said it was time, as opposed to waiting for who they love, and as a result they’re unhappy.”
“I'm single, never married at 44,” another woman said. “I guess I could've married someone I've dated by now but it never occurred to me to not be madly in love with my future husband.”
Toni’s thread is full of highs and lows; lost loves and regrets as well as surprisingly fruitful relationships borne from “settling”. There are those who are happily married to someone they admit isn’t the love of their lives and those who married The One and are now separated. “All in all, I think it's safe to say that marriage isn't always straightforward,” Toni said at the end of her thread. I think that’s something we can all agree on.