Ever since the heady days of the Spice Girls, Geri Halliwell has flown the flag for “girl power” – so it’s understandable that she found it tricky to reconcile herself to the “traditional institution of marriage”.
“So, when are you getting married?”
It’s the well-meaning question that almost every single one of us has been asked at least once in our lives, regardless of whether or not we’re in a relationship. As we near the age that society expects us to start that business of “settling down”, though, our friends and family members tend to get a wee bit more vocal on the subject. “When are you getting married?” becomes “why aren’t you getting married?” Granny starts to ladle on the guilt, insisting that she just wants to live long enough to see you married off. And mum? Don’t even get us started on her.
To be honest, it’s not hard to see why everyone is so aerated about it: we are primed, for our entire lives, to see marriage as a goal we should all achieve. It’s in the ‘happy-ever-after’ of the old-school Disney Princess movies, the £10 billion UK wedding industry, the financial benefits that come from saying ‘I do’, the endless studies that claim married life is good for your health, and the thousands of congratulatory messages underneath every single engagement ring post on Facebook.
But what if marriage isn’t part of your plans? What if, when someone teasingly asks you if you and your long-term partner are planning to tie the knot, you’re not filled with that insatiable lust for the big white dress that everyone tells you you ought to feel? What if you’re unsure about the idea of matrimony, for your own deeply personal reasons?
Well, then you’re wrong. And, as Bridget Jones herself puts it, you will “finally die fat and alone and be found three weeks later half-eaten by Alsatians.”
Which is why it’s always so refreshing when someone like Geri Halliwell – aka everyone’s favourite Spice Girl – reminds us that marriage isn’t exactly the perfect state of being that everyone claims it to be.
Geri, who tied the knot with Christian Horner in 2015, appears to have found her “happily ever after” with the Formula One boss. Yet, despite saying that marrying him felt “just right”, Geri has made a point of reminding her fans that there is no such thing as perfection – especially when it comes to making huge life decisions.
“I’ve suddenly found myself in a traditional institution of marriage and, as a modern woman, the question I’m asking myself is how to maintain my individuality and identity within that,” she tells Red Magazine.
Adding that she intends to forge a new career path for herself, ideally in the world of television, she adds: “I want to reclaim my identity [and] do things I’m proud of and contribute to the world”.
Somewhat surprised by Geri’s candour, the interviewer took the chance to question the pop star’s decision to take her husband’s surname, which seems at odds with her girl-power mission.
“The point of changing my name was to say we’re all together, but looking back on it, I’m still confused,” says Geri.
“Am I Halliwell or Horner? Maybe I’m just Geri?”
Geri goes on to say that, while she loves her husband, she has learned not to rely solely on him for support – and adds that, in some situations, her female friends give her more “nourishment”.
“[Some] days I need to call a girlfriend and splurge it all out,” she says, reminding fans that it’s never a good idea for anyone to view their romantic partner as a replacement for all other friendships.
“My relationship works much better when I accept that. Sometimes you need girlfriends to pull you over the wall on the days you’re not feeling great.”
Geri’s not the first person to suggest that our romantic partners don’t need to be our best friends: Anna Faris – who separated from Chris Pratt in August after eight years of marriage – agrees that ‘bae’ doesn’t equate to ‘BFF’.
“I was once told that I didn’t need a tight group of girlfriends because Chris should be my best friend. But I never bought that,” she explains in her new book, Unqualified.
“The idea of your mate being your best friend – it’s overhyped. I really believe that your partner serves one purpose and each friend serves another. There’s the friend you confess things to and the friend with whom you do the listening. Or this is the person I talk to when I’m feeling lonely and sad, this is the person I talk to about work s**t, and this is the friend I’m still in touch with because we grew up together.”
Faris then underlines her problem with the concept of ‘best friends’ overall, adding: “To be honest, I think the notion of best friends in general is messed up though.
“It puts so much pressure on any one person, when I truly believe it’s okay to have intimacy with different people in different ways. And ranking your friends? It just shouldn’t happen, at least not beyond grade school.”
Images: Rex Features