Pressure to have a “massively fantastical experience” on a wedding day puts unrealistic expectations on the rest of married life, Rowan Williams has warned.
Speaking last week the former Archbishop of Canterbury cautioned against the “marketisation of marriage”, and noted a trend away from thinking about “long-term calculations of our well-being”.
He was making the comments at a debate on marriage organised by law firm Winckworth Sherwood, in London.
Dr Williams said society needs to “take a long hard look at the marketisation of marriage”.
“That is the perfect relationship crystalised in the perfect wedding day – the immense economic, advertising investment in this massively fantastical experience which you go through on your wedding day, after which, of course, nothing is ever quite so good again.
“That is an aspect I think of the short-term, unimaginative, emotionally unintelligent climate that sometimes we seem forced to inhabit”, he said, according to The Telegraph newspaper online.
He also noted an “increasing reluctance in a rather frantic, sometimes rather febrile world, to think about long-term growth as a person, long-term calculations of our well-being as opposed to rapid gratification”.
Speaking of a continued “strong desire” in society to get married, Dr Williams also criticised pre-nuptial agreements – where couples decide before getting married how they will split assets in the event of a divorce.
He said that despite changes in culture around marriage, “much remains unchanged”, including “a strong desire for the public affirmation of commitment”.
Emily Brand, a partner at the law firm behind the debate said it was designed to be a “cultural MOT on the institution of marriage”.
“The outside pressures and influences that couples face are greater than ever and it is at times difficult for them to take a step back and look at what the values of a marriage should be, that help make it successful”, she added.
Another partner at the group, Carol Ellinas, said: “The ‘marketisation’ of marriage was identified as a huge pressure that couples face to create the perfect wedding day and the financial burdens that it brings.
“It is also the emotional investment in the day and pressure through the wedding industry and the media for life to remain perfect. Is this the best way to start married life?”