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Jameela's June 2013 Column: 'I Can Scarcely Commit To A Sandwich!'


I’ve just sprinted past the 27 mark which, in our culture, means that every step I take is headed towards the aisle. To be fair, when I was 16, even
I assumed I’d be married with kids by now. I’d have a house with a garden, and my husband, Jake Gyllenhaal, would be building a treehouse out the back. Completely caught up in the fantasy, it all sounded so simple.

But now – three, long-term relationships and two proposals later – I’ve realised I can scarcely commit to a sandwich, never mind a man. Marriage just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know that I can see myself spending the REST of my life with the same person. It just doesn’t seem natural.

Marriage was invented in a time when we didn’t need divorce, because we had tuberculosis, the plague and dysentery (that’s right, you could literally shit your way out of matrimony). People generally died in their mid-20s. I could do “ever after” till, well, now! But I wonder, had they known people would one day live into their nineties, would they still have cemented us in this lifelong contract?

People grow and change constantly. This illusion that you form a mould that you never break out of, as soon as you become an ‘adult’, is a dangerous lie. It imprisons you in some hostage situation of expectations to live up to. Nobody needs that. Life is hard enough. While still similar in some fundamental ways, I can confidently say I am a completely different person to who I was as little as a year ago. Worryingly, I think it is possible that I’ve become even more ridiculous. But I’ve also grown. Life has a wonderful way of constantly using experience to chisel your personality. I am re-shaped a little almost every day.

How do you guarantee that another person, going through the trials and tribulations of their own lives, will grow in the same direction as you? The idea of ‘unconditional love’ is beautiful, but doesn’t guarantee unconditional like. Not to mention the pressure of obligation. I like the idea of choosing to be with someone. Of coming home to them, because as they say, “Why go out for burgers when you have steak at
home?” I love the idea of rejecting all other candidates because I want to, not because I’m told to.

I’m not saying you can’t still have that feeling in marriage, and I really do think it sounds like a beautiful union. But if it isn’t for you, then please know, you are not betraying society, your culture, or in fact your womanhood. It’s OK if each step you take is just towards the next one. Or towards Jake Gyllenhaal. That would be good, too.

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