I’ve just been to my first wedding in more than 10 years. I belong to the cynical set, where there are more divorces than weddings. We’re all commitment phobic, once bitten twice shy (or in my case twice bitten thrice shy).
However, even I shed a tear. The bride’s grandmother had died three days before the wedding, so the whole symbolism of the event was intensified. One part of life comes to a close, and leads to a new beginning – a rite of passage.
What the rest of us are missing! We just drift through life and never mark the changes. If you’re single or in a relationship, but choose not to marry or have a civil partnership, you don’t have what used to be a major rite of passage to the adult world.
You’re more likely to celebrate getting your first mortgage, or your first joint tenancy. If you go on to have kids it would be hypocritical to have them welcomed into any faith you did not believe in: so that’s another rite of passage gone.
We don’t even progress from shorts to long trousers or from ankle socks to stockings and suspenders any more. There are just mini grown-up style outfits, some of which wouldn’t look out of place in Ann Summers, for girls still watching CBeebies. No wonder our young people are confused.
Their parents refuse to become middle-aged, and mothers are as likely to be shopping for their own wedding dresses as for mother-of-the-bride outfits.
Life’s confusing enough when you’re growing up and searching for your own identity, but many of our kids have no rites of passage, and have role models who refuse to grow up themselves.
It’s a tenuous link, but some might say it’s a hop, skip and a jump to under-age sex, drug and alcohol abuse, street crime and violence, via self-doubt, disaffection and general despondency.
So I envy my young newly married friends for their commitment to each other and their faith. The rest of us must find other ways to grow up, and to mark the passage of time.
I’m just off to plan my menopause party before it’s time for the final rite of passage that we can’t avoid. As my dad says, I don’t want any hymns.
Jennifer Harvey is a day services co-ordinator working with people with learning disabilities