Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Status Anxiety

To change or not to change, that is the question. Yes, the modern dilemma that confronts a person's life: Do I change my Facebook status to state "Married"? A friend of mine just changed hers, out of the blue (I had no real idea she'd got married) and so I had a mind grape or two about it.

The reasons against:
  • I don't really think it's any of anyone's business
  • I don't think it should be of relevance to people or be upfront as something about me - for example, I'm a Ms., and a Ms. I will remain - I don't think my marital status should be so on display.
The reasons why my arguments are not quite perhaps as effective as they should be:
  • My status is "in a relationship."
So for all my protesting (although, admittedly, two bullet points don't seem like much protesting but they are vehement), I do put the fact that I'm in a relationship out there. I like to think that "in a relationship" is ambiguous - the way I thought using "partner" would be in the United States when I first arrived here* - but it's not, really, only in my head. But I now justify keeping it because it's important that the relationship I am in is the same: the questions you receive once married tend to be all about the length of the marriage, and the wedding itself, or the proposal, rings and so on; the twelve years beforehand - just plucking a number out of a hat - are relegated to secondary status. We didn't stop being in that relationship because we're married. But, really, maybe this would be more effective (although a moot conversation) if I didn't have the status at all.
  • The status applies to men and women
So my "Ms." argument is not quite apposite, really and, as discussed in the previous answer, I already place an importance on my relationship that places it as the third most important thing about me - according to Facebook, at least.

My overall feeling, however, is that I just don't want to change it. As we come up to six months of marriage I have enjoyed every bit of it, with one or two notable exceptions aside, and it hasn't suddenly changed me as a person in some of the ways that I worried previously. But my fundamental unease at the centrality and import society and, of course, many of my acquaintance place on being married, along with the expectations of me as a married person, hasn't altered at all. So it stays the same. For now.

* Strangely, in the past few years I have noticed an increased acceptance of the term "partner" for hetero couples. Of course, this is snatching the term from gay couples, but I think it so nicely describes a relationship that I'm pleased that there is something that isn't just boyfriend/girlfriend, dating and marriage. There's now room in the straight couple catalogue for that option.

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