Is sologamy the ultimate symbol of an individualised culture in the West? Or is it silly? Or is it sad?
In case you haven’t been keeping up with the changing times, sologamy refers to the act of marrying yourself. It appears to be mostly done by women and in the United States. But when I was googling it I found that somebody had been looking up “marry me Ireland” before me, so it may be on the way here too.
In the full-blown version of sologamy, you walk up the aisle while family and friends look on, make vows to yourself and then throw a party. In a more slimmed-down version you might do it with one or two friends, or alone in your room, or, in the case of one person, under a waterfall.
Sologamy is not a legal thing in the sense that it doesn’t confer any rights on you. Nor does it confer any obligations. It may be a fleeting piece of silliness or it may be something else. Either way, it has been written up by the great and the good in the media, which I suppose increases the possibility that it’s all just a fleeting piece of silliness.
Having married myself, it's a really great constant reminder of my commitment to myself"
Still, a California-based website called Imarriedme.com (slogans include "You should totally marry yourself" and "Hell yeah I'm awesome") will sell you a range of rings and T-shirts for the occasion.
Customers of the website explains why it is that they do what they are doing.
“For my birthday each year I invite a group of my girlfriends and choose a nice spot for dinner. It is a special treat when I can gather those closest to me for quality together time,” wrote “A” from Texas.
“This year, I added a twist. I performed a self-wedding ceremony and we all married ourselves! We are all busy women, juggling families, jobs, complicated life circumstances, and the first thing to go when life gets hectic is self-care.”
Writes “N” from California: “Having married myself, it’s a really great constant reminder of my commitment to myself, especially when you go through these peaks and valleys of life.”
“L” from New York approvingly mentions a couple who “officiated this ceremony for all of the guests at their wedding a few years ago”. I can see that going down well at an Irish wedding!
The website quotes the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn as follows: "Everyone knows that peace has to begin with oneself, but not many people know how to do it."
Marrying yourself doesn't actually prevent you from finding a life partner
One of the fuller accounts of sologamy is by Tarra Christoff, to be found on a (loosely) Buddhist-themed website called Tiny Buddha. "I married myself at the age of 37 in a quiet ceremony of one near a waterfall in Big Sur, California," Ms Christoff writes.
The vows she made were similar to the traditional ones about cherishing, in this case oneself, in sickness and in health. The vows “became an ode to honouring my highest self always, and remembering that seeking love outside myself will never bring fulfilment unless I possess radical, unshakable love for myself”.
Christoff asserts that nine months after marrying herself, “I have a birthed a new life. Many of the visions I had for a decade are starting to come true.” These include “attracting a loving partner” and spending time in Bali.
So marrying yourself doesn’t actually prevent you from finding a life partner. But I wonder what it’s actually like to go through the ceremony, perhaps on your own, and then to go home on your own?
In this era, we are probably getting more used to living alone and to doing things by ourselves than in previous times. Many people live alone quite satisfactorily so far as I can see.
For all that, I cannot help seeing self-marriage as, on some level, a form of weirdness. Perhaps I’m just old-fashioned and out of touch with the times. And I don’t like weddings anyway. So if you do decide to marry yourself, don’t invite me.
Pádraig O'Morain (firstname.lastname@example.org) is accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His latest book is Mindfulness for Worriers. His daily mindfulness reminder is free by email. Twitter: @PadraigOMorain