“Fauxbivalence” – that’s Phoebe Maltz-Bovy’s term for “women who do want in on the institution [of marriage], but who find this somehow embarrassing.” It’s a growing phenomenon among upper-middle-class, well-educated, urban-dwellers, and since I’ve started planning my wedding, I’ve noticed it too.
Some of my friends may even think I’ve succumbed to it, although I’ll happily admit that while I may be critical of the institution of marriage, I do think it can be a good thing. That’s why I’m getting married.
Malz-Bovy posted an article on the Atlantic yesterday pointing out the contradictions of the “alternative” wedding scene and the fauxbivalence that often accompanies it. “Fauxbivalence,” she argues, “ has the potential to be just as alienating and even snobbish as bridezilladom.” But the black diamond engagement rings, blase attitudes, and dive bar “receptions” – they’re still leading to the same thing: a marriage.
Whether you’re a hipster or an accountant, straight or gay, chances are you will at some point want a spouse, and your desire for one will echo that of every other human being to be in that situation. Every relationship is unique, but a wedding is a way of momentarily setting aside that uniqueness and accepting that what you’re experiencing—the public sanctioning of an intimate relationship—has been felt countless times before.
Exactly. Humans, in various cultural, historical, and geographic settings, have come up with myriad variations on the wedding – marriage, in theory, allows us to create new social units that help to make up the framework of a larger societal whole.
At the end of her article, Malz-Bovy makes a suggestion to fauxbivalent brides: “Rather than playing up the subtle distinction between your alternative, low-key wedding and that of a suburban princess, you might be an ally to those who don’t wish to get married at all, or who do but cannot in their jurisdiction.”
That’s one option, but I’d like to add another. Why not embrace the “conventionality” of your wedding? To me, marriage has little meaning outside of its social context. I’m marrying my fiancé so that our relationship – our partnership – will form a new legal unit, one that’s only recognized as such because so many people have done the same thing before.
I may not want to wear a white dress and I may own a Brooklyn-designed conflict-free diamond ring (the locally harvested unicorn poop jewelry will come later), but that doesn’t mean I’m blasé about my wedding. I’m committed to the celebration, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also be critical of it.
I can be all of those things. I’m unique, just like everybody else.