Self-Marriage: it sounds like a silly idea, but why?
We’ve been thinking about the recent trend of ‘self-marriage’, and it has us very conflicted. So what is it? Is it as silly as it sounds? Can we recommend it? When the BBC start reporting on something, it’s fairly solid confirmation that it’s now ‘a thing’. So when BBC News looked at self-marriage in late 2017, our ears pricked up. Let’s start with the basics:
What is self-marriage?
It’s the act of marrying yourself, obviously, but it’s a very broad term. Since self-marriage isn’t legally recognised, it’s a purely symbolic thing. And the actual practice of marrying yourself can be, we’re told, as ostentatious or as private as you like. It can be a massive ceremony with a dress, a ring and a cake, or it can be just you reciting vows to yourself, alone in your bedroom. Dominique Youkhehpaz, the self-marriage guru quoted by the BBC, described self-marriage as: a commitment to valuing and prioritizing self-love and self-care within a culture that has neglected it, left it behind, commercialized and dehumanized it. Dominique’s website has a lengthy FAQ page, for anyone who wants all the details.
Why is it called ‘sologamy’?
Seriously, why is it called sologamy? If monogamy is having just one spouse, and polygamy is having many, ‘sologamy’ would suggest you’re committing to marry only yourself, right? But apparently that’s not the way of it – in fact, many people who self-marry are already married. So we’re going to respectfully ignore this term ‘sologamy’. For something already easy to misunderstand, we think it’s just muddying the waters.
Who’s doing this?
Mostly women, but a minority of men also. The BBC quotes LA jewellery designer Dan Moran as saying most of his clients are “urban, affluent and educated.” So in simple terms, it’s mostly rich women. But it’s worth remembering this information is coming from the businesses who cater to the lavish events. We’ll never really know the numbers or demographics of people lighting a candle in their bedroom and reading vows into a mirror.
So let’s cut to the chase: this is an insufferable, narcissistic invention of the Instagram generation, right?
Well, a quick look at the comments below any of these self-marriage articles tells us this is a popular opinion. But we’re struggling to agree. Firstly, it passes the ‘doing no harm’ test. If it’s perfectly legal, involves only consenting people and does no harm to anyone (or the environment), can we really denounce it? And if so, what kind of person does that make you? Certainly not a ‘live and let live’ person. Secondly, Ms Youkhehpaz definitely has a point about “prioritizing self-love and self-care within a culture that has neglected it, left it behind, commercialized and dehumanized it.” We live our lives under a constant bombardment of adverts and images designed to make us feel bad about ourselves and spend money to fix ourselves. So how can a statement of defiance against those forces be a bad thing?
So we can’t hate on self-marriage. But can we really recommend it?
We think the acid test is this: If one of your close friends or family members said they were planning to marry themselves, what would you say? As with most things, the ‘why’ is generally more important than the ‘what, where, when and how’. So that would be our first question: why? If it’s purely for attention, then we’d say it’s a bad idea. If it’s to commit to building a stronger sense of self-respect, then it’s basically like a new-year resolution, right? And we all know how successful the vast majority of those are. So we’re struggling to think of a reason one of our friends or family could give us that would make us approve.
Consider the consequences of publicly marrying yourself
If you have a big, lavish ceremony, there are two things that are liable to change: your opinion of yourself and other people’s opinions of you. If you marry yourself in private, then it’s only your own self-image that’s going to be affected. So if it makes you see yourself in a better light, and/or makes other people see you in a better light, we guess that would be a success. But is it really going to do either of those things? If you feel the need to make a symbolic commitment to better self-care, it invariably means you’re lacking it. So surely a public ceremony just makes that need for more self-respect clearer to those around you. Might a consequence of your self-marriage ceremony be people around you asking one another ‘is she/he okay?’
Our final thoughts
We’re generalising here, but the profile of a person considering publicly self-marrying seems to consist of two things:
- A need to improve self-respect and take better care of themselves
- A want to make personal pronouncements in a very public way
Could these two things possibly be related? If you’re obsessed with appearances and social approval, points one and two would both be direct consequences. If so, wouldn’t an ostentatious celebration of self-commitment just be fuelling the fire? We can’t tell anyone not to self-marry – simply because it does no harm. But we can politely suggest you ask yourself why you want to do it. Some deep introspection might reveal the path to a more meaningful way of building self-respect. And besides, you’re going to need some serious moves to make the solo first dance less awkward. Do you agree? Would you marry yourself? Do you know anyone who has? Let us know in the comments.
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