Happily-ever after: Self-marriage, the claim of wellness, and temporal ownership

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The phenomenon commonly described as self-marriage is an exponentially growing trend in which individuals, mostly women, marry themselves. Drawing on a textual analysis of self-marriage accounts in online media, we argue that this concept denotes a new form of self-love and self-commitment – at the heart of which lies a wellness program, rather than a legal contract. This article explores this emergent concept, focusing on a notable, though not exclusive, segment of its practitioners: single women. We analyze the discursive formations and narrative formulas through which self-marriage travels and consolidates in the digital world. We explore this performative act in temporal terms: we introduce the concept of temporal ownership, to explain how self-marriage offers single women a venue by which they can claim to take control over their present and future, and reposition themselves vis-a-vis heteronormative timelines. Our account of temporal ownership is threefold. We analyze self-marriage as a declaration about ‘non-waiting’, and the creation of a ‘present continuous temporality’; as an act of ‘moving forward’, a meaningful milestone heralding a new beginning; and, finally, as a commitment to lifelong self-love. This threefold discussion leads us to a broader contribution to the sociological literature. In particular, we use self-marriage as a case study with which to flesh out the utility of thinking about wellness culture and certain aspects of neoliberalism through a temporal lens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-674
Number of pages16
JournalSociological Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2020


  • neoliberalism
  • single women
  • temporality
  • time
  • wellness

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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