"With this ring I me wed."
Jennifer Hoes just celebrated her ninth wedding anniversary -- to herself.
On her 30th birthday in 2003, the Dutch woman had a self-wedding, complete with cameras. While it would be premature to call it a trend, several people since then have taken the vows of self-marriage as a way of contractually binding themselves to matrimonial values.
Anderson Cooper’s talk show recently featured a woman who had wed herself, and even took herself out on dates. “I started discovering that the love I need, it’s in here,” Nadine Schweigert said, pointing to her heart.
She had a ceremony, she had vows, she had the whole nine because “I wanted to share that with people … it’s a form of accountability,” the 36-year-old North Dakota divorcee said.
For others, self-marriage is about working on ones’ self in the context of a relationship.
“I find it very hard to have to disappoint people for example, which can lead to being unfaithful to them and yourself,” said Hoes, an artist whose wedding in Haarlem, The Netherlands, made headlines nine years ago. “My motto at the time of my wedding was, 'Life is a matter of shaping it.' (In Dutch, the word for shaping and design is the same). And the subscript said 'and try not to change what cannot be changed',” Hoes said, adding that she wears her wedding ring daily.
Two years ago, Chen Wei-yih married herself in a small ceremony attended by 30 friends and family. The Taiwanese woman wore a white gown, carried a huge bouquet and broadcast it on Facebook.
“When I look back at my wedding, at the self-commitment now, I feel it is a thing to remind me that I should not betray myself in any way and any time,” Chen Wei-yih, who goes by Only, told HLN.
Not a legal marriage, but a 'happy' ceremony
“There are about 32 million people in the United States who are in single households -- about a quarter of all households,” said Brian Powell, professor of sociology at Indiana University. “And if you think of it that way, that means that all these people are living single and they live in a society where singledom is not recognized by a lot of people. It doesn’t surprise me that people who live alone want some type of acknowledgment from others that this is a reasonable choice.”
While not claiming to know Schweigert's reasons for marrying herself, Powell summed it up this way: “Basically it’s not a legal marriage, it’s just a ceremony that says she’s happy. It makes sense in the context that she’s doing what millions of people do, they get married to be acknowledged by their friends and family."
But not everyone is a fan.
“Having a celebration focused on a woman’s or man’s progress, growth or accomplishments in front of family and friends is a great idea to being accountable to continue to grow and love oneself … calling it a marriage to self does not seem appropriate,” Susan Pazak, a psychologist in Southern California, told HLN.
“What if someone would like to marry in the future? I do not think matrimonial self-bliss is a possibility, yet self-bliss is something for us all to continue to pursue individually and within the vows of the (traditional) marriage,” Pazak said.
But self-marriage, just like other forms of commitment, can end in disappointment. In 2006, a Boston man who did it soon divorced himself, citing irreconcilable differences.
“Sex became more and more infrequent and there were the calls from a mysterious stranger who would hang up as soon as I answered the telephone,” Roland Nigland was quoted as saying.
Others opt for the traditional route after a while. “It is an interesting time for me,” Only said, “because I am going to get married again this coming Saturday with my loved one in Brisbane.”
“But I’m not divorcing myself!” she added.