Monday, September 24, 2007
Dating, Relationships and Marriage in Sweden
From Sweden to the USA (and everywhere in between and all around), everyone’s favorite topic makes an appearance on Linköpinglivin’. I had to wait until I mastered this topic - you know became a professional at it…
As a foreigner, the first thing you’re told about Sweden and the subject of dating is “Women are self-sufficient – Don’t open that door! Don’t pay for that (whole) meal.” And while one must be prudent and thoughtful about one’s view of women in Sweden, certainly in the dating realm, I have found that Swedish women are like women everywhere. Although yes indeed self-sufficient, they certainly appreciate a thoughtful and, dare I say, chivalrous, significant other. They just want you to know they don’t need you ….or so I’ve been told.
Regarding marriage, well, let’s just say that Frank Sinatra’s famous song must not have quite made it all the way to Sweden, because love and marriage apparently do not always go together in Sweden. One of the things that struck me as I was becoming familiar with Swedish society is the Swedish (and I have heard European) penchant for long-term relationships with everything but the formal, legalized marriage. I know multiple couples who have been together for years, same house, same budget, two kids, everything looks like a marriage, but then and only then, maybe will they decide to actually and officially tie the knot. This scenario has described three of my colleagues in just the past year.
Unlike the U.S., there is no extra tax or government-motivated reason for marriage. As I understand it, whether you are living together, married or single, your taxes are the same.
For those who do choose to have a wedding ceremony, they are predictably understated in Sweden (especially in comparison to the U.S.). The Swedish cultural norm of “don’t draw attention to oneself” even influences the bride and groom who often choose to have a very small wedding with just the closest of family and friends in attendance. Ceremonies are usually held in a church, but often in a natural setting consistent with the Swedish love of nature. And, while legal and recognized since 1995, homosexual marriage is performed as a civil ceremony.
And something interesting to read for the Americans, just this past week a church in Sweden denied the request of a bride to have her father walk her down the aisle and "give her away" saying that this is just a tradition brought over by American-made television and very "unswedish." Read: http://www.thelocal.se/8571/
Swedish equality: Foreign men, be on alert!
As for my personal experience contributing to this topic of dating and relationships in Sweden? I’ll just say that if you ever read about it on the blog, you’ll know I’ve officially lost it in Sweden!
Finally the pictures above, which I don’t have to stretch too much to make them fit into this topic:
1. Stockholm’s Stadshuset or “city hall.” Some choose to get married here and the ceremony is often held in under one minute…
2. & 3. Strollers, continuing a theme on Linköpinglivin’, are everywhere in Sweden. This summer I found two curious places for strollers, at least to the eyes of a foreigner. Amongst canons at Kalmar’s castle and on the beach in Öland, literally almost a surfing stroller. Only in Sweden.
See you next week.