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
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.