THE MAN WHO MARRIED HIMSELF
Meet the wonderful Ruari Barratt. I dated him earlier this year and he was so taken with the idea of sologamy that he recently tied the knot with himself – how cool is that?! Here is his story:
Tell me a bit about you?
I’m an actor and producer, 35, based in Brighton, where I’ve lived for most of my life.
Why did you marry yourself?
I married myself after meeting Sophie, who had got self-hitched about two years before. Initially it wasn’t her arguments in favour of sologamy that made me consider it as a lifestyle choice, it was how self-assured she seemed.
Sophie and I dated for a while, and I came to conclude that the outward stability was genuine, in contrast to the mask of okay-ness that I was wearing. Inside, I was far from okay while we were seeing each other, which led to us splitting up.
Newly single, I had some time to process how I treated myself. Sologamy started to seem like an important first step in learning how to be nice to myself.
Why do you think sologamy has been more common amongst women than men?
Men find it harder to admit to others the ways in which they feel weak or flawed, they’re not as open as women about their inner doubts. Marrying yourself is a public admission of self-worth, at the same time it’s admitting you perhaps didn’t value yourself before.
If no one you know has married themselves, you’re going to find it hard to risk the ridicule. Men are never the first to start dancing at a party or a club, they have to see a bunch of women doing it before they feel brave enough.
Honestly though, I think the reason why so few men and women have done it is because so few people have heard of it. Hopefully as more and more people are aware of sologamy as a legitimate lifestyle option, more will take the plunge.
Do you think there is a societal stigma around being single?
Absolutely. If you don’t have a partner it’s another thing that you should have but don’t.
I’m sure it’s worse for women, but even as a guy you get condescended to when single. When I mention that I don’t have a girlfriend, stock responses tend towards reassuring me that it’s only a matter of time before I meet someone. This is irksome – being single is not like being unemployed. It’s a state I might change, but not one I need to rectify as a matter of urgency.
Why do you think a self-marriage ceremony can be just as important for a man?
The ceremony is an important part of the act of committing. It’s the public expression of the private oath. If you’re serious about it, let everyone know! I wish I had made more of a spectacle of my wedding, it was a very private, low-key affair. That’s cool (it’s very male), but I missed the chance for a party. It’s especially a shame as I’ve never really plucked up the courage to have a birthday party and invite people along… I’ve always felt embarrassed to be asking people to celebrate me. Maybe that’ll change now I’ve married myself.
How do you think the meaning of marriage has changed over the decades?
It’s become less about society and more about the individual. Sologamy is a logical progression from recent advances in marriage such as non-arranged marriage and same-sex marriage. Technically, self-marriage is same-sex marriage, however you identify.
Historically, the point of getting hitched has been about having a spouse and offspring to pass your stuff into when you die. Now that we’re drowning in stuff, perhaps it’s time to make marriage about something more meaningful.
Talk us through your ceremony and your wedding night?
My wedding is an insight into how all weddings would be if the planning was left to a man. I was on a week-long shoot in Las Vegas when I made a snap decision to marry myself – driving around on the first day, all the chapels we passed seemed like some kind of sign.
I phoned around a few places. For an industry built on shotgun weddings (not always a great idea) a lot of the people I spoke to were surprisingly resistant to the idea of me marrying myself. Some of them genuinely didn’t want to take my money.
I settled on the Little Vegas Chapel, a venue priding itself on same-sex marriages and an ‘open doors’ policy.
The ceremony itself was intimate: Me, Elvis and a small camera crew. Afterwards I celebrated with a plate of pancakes and a tattoo (a heart with a banner declaring my love for ‘me’). It was the blokiest wedding ever.
In retrospect I wish I’d waited till I was in the UK where I could have invited friends and family. I’ll definitely make a bigger fuss out of my anniversary next July.
Will you go on honeymoon?
I don’t have plans to, though it’s a nice idea. I think that for me, pancakes and a tattoo was enough.
However, if I change my mind and decide to have a honeymoon after all, I’ll go somewhere totally different to anywhere I’ve ever been before. This is a new, more positive chapter of my life and my honeymoon would have to reflect that.
What do you think of your family and friends’ reactions so far?
Most of my friends have been very supportive. Self-marriage is too new a concept to have earned a standard compliment yet, a version of ‘you make a beautiful couple’. People say I seem happier though.
My mother thinks it’s nonsense, which is fine. She’s been married to my father virtually all of her adult life and she still has a very traditional mindset. Although she doesn’t recognise my sologamy as a legitimate lifestyle choice, she is happy when I’m happier so in a way she does approve.
Are you worried about negative responses and trolling?
Who am I hurting by having a marriage with myself? Nobody I can think of, so anyone trying to make me feel bad is doing more wrong in the world than me. I guess that makes me the bigger man.
Are you still up for having romantic relationships or even marrying someone else?
Absolutely. Sologamy isn’t about denying yourself sex or romance, that would be the opposite of self-acceptance and self-love.
As for marriage to another person, I’d be up for that as long as they don’t expect me to divorce myself. Self-divorce would be symbolic suicide. Since marrying myself I’ve done a lot of DIY on my soul and someone who accepts me won’t expect me to undo all that.
Your last long-term relationship was polyamorous (open) – how did that work out for you?
Having experienced both, I would say polyamory and sologamy are laudable ideas with similar emotional aims. The difference is, sologamy is simple in practice as well as in theory, and it actually works. Polyamory is simple in theory but the reality of an open relationship is horrifically complicated.
My polyamorous relationship began well. My ex and I were in a loving relationship. We hooked up with other people as an outlet for our excess desire – sexual and emotional – which meant neither of us wondered what we were missing. My ex had a tendency toward jealousy, but that was cool because our relationship gave her a safe environment to explore that jealousy. That was the theory, anyway.
It didn’t take long for it to get messy. Her jealousy wasn’t magically cured by me having sex with other women. I wasn’t as good at giving her reassurance as I had been in our honeymoon period. When I came home from a date with someone else’s smell on me, she’d be gripped by the fear that I’d fallen in love with them. Instead of showing her love, I’d tell her she was being unreasonable. With such shaky foundations, the collapse of our relationship was inevitable.
What would your advice be to someone else who is thinking about marrying themselves?
I’m biased because it turned out to be right for me, but I’d say, just do it. While it’s not legally recognised there’s no good reason not to – you’ll never have to fork out for a divorce or fight over kids.
I was lucky enough to meet someone who’d self-married so I had the chance to see first-hand the stability and confidence it brings. I guess most people out there will have to take my word for it, but… take my word for it. It works.
Do you think sologamy should be legally recognised?
I’m not sure it needs to be (see previous answer – how likely are you to get sick of yourself?), but at the same time legal recognition would lend self-marriage a certain legitimacy. It would be a stamp of approval from society. But then, needing the approval of society never got anyone anywhere.
Do you think marrying yourself has changed you?
Since becoming – to quote my wedding vows – ‘committed to myself’ I’ve eaten better, exercised more, been kinder, argued less, got more sleep, watched less porn, been more open and enjoyed the company of those around me.
Aside from all the ‘fitter, happier, more productive’ stuff, becoming more connected to myself has helped me connect with other people. I’m sure my next relationship (with someone other than me) will benefit.