Don’t avoid mar­riage be­cause of pa­tri­archy

His­tor­i­cal evo­lu­tion of mat­ri­mony means past is­sues should not dis­tract from its ben­e­fits — both le­gal and per­sonal — in the present

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFESTYLE - By JULIET SA­MUEL

ow’s mar­ried life?” Peo­ple ask it in a slightly mock­ing tone, as if it’s rather quaint to think that mar­ried life should be any dif­fer­ent from un­mar­ried life. One year in, how­ever, I’ve been sur­prised to find that it is dif­fer­ent — in a good way.

This idea is in­creas­ingly out of fash­ion. Nearly half of Bri­tish ba­bies are born to un­mar­ried par­ents. And now, in a strange twist on the gay rights move­ment, straight cou­ples have started de­mand­ing the right to form civil unions in­stead of mar­riages.

One test case on the mat­ter has just found its way to the Court of Ap­peal. The cou­ple bring­ing the case want a civil union in or­der to ben­e­fit from the purely func­tional, le­gal ad­van­tages of mar­riage with­out any of the other bag­gage that they imag­ine it brings.

It’s un­fair, they say, that gays can ob­tain civil unions and straights can’t. Girly girls have ru­ined mar­riage, the woman of the cou­ple im­plies: “There are girls who grew up think­ing about their wed­ding dress but I in­creas­ingly felt that out­side of the fairy­tale of it all, that I do not feel like a wife. It just doesn’t square with me,” she told the BBC.

Well, I sup­pose they should be al­lowed to do what they want, but it’s a deeply de­press­ing idea. The joy of a union be­tween two adults is am­pli­fied by the sym­bol­ism and cul­tural im­por­tance of mar­riage. With­out it, there’s not much difference be­tween get­ting mar­ried and fil­ing a tax re­turn.

Wed­dings don’t need to fol­low a for­mula: a large dress, a cake, a drunk un­cle (though as it hap­pens, By the numbers: di­vorce

34% 114,720 di­vorces:

of mar­riages end by their 20th an­niver­sary.

Num­ber of di­vorces in Eng­land and Wales in 2013. The num­ber of di­vorces is fall­ing, along with the mar­riage rate 13 per hour: Av­er­age rate of di­vorce in 2013 40-44 years old: the age group when di­vorce is at its high­est 17 months 26 days: av­er­age length of time it takes to fi­nalise a di­vorce 64% of chil­dren whose fam­i­lies di­vorced in 2013 were un­der 11 £337m: the UK’s big­gest di­vorce set­tle­ment


The evo­lu­tion of mar­riage is one of the great re­form­ing suc­cess sto­ries. It’s proof that so­ci­eties can re­alise the er­ror of their ways and fix them.

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