Has marriage become for men only?

(65 Posts)
AcademicJDD Sun 29-Dec-13 17:52:39

With strong, independent women starting to step out of the shadows casts by mysoganistic men, and only seeming to get real praise if doing it while 'looking hot' is marriage a dead duck? Women continually are seen as the lesser of the partnership in a patriarchal bondage.
Why would we want this? Does anyone else think marriage is now left for the gay community and the old fashioned?

DadWasHere Sat 04-Jan-14 08:15:49

I would like to think it would be the same here!

I would assume that a proper civil partnership would confer the same rights and responsibilities as a marriage. If that's the case then what is being changed? The balls and chains linked to to the term 'marriage' so that the 'partnership' is not tied down by historical and religious assumption and convention in the same way 'marriage' is?

TheDoctrineOf2014 Sat 04-Jan-14 08:47:56

DWH, yes, I think that's the point - CPs come without the heritage of being "given away" by your father, "automatically" changing your name, only the woman promising to "love, honour and obey" etc.

DadWasHere Sat 04-Jan-14 10:27:58

DWH, yes, I think that's the point - CPs come without the heritage of being "given away" by your father, "automatically" changing your name, only the woman promising to "love, honour and obey" etc.

Well, that sounds reasonable and good but doesn't the UK already possess mechanisms for getting married without all the monolithic expectations that go with the 'event day' so to speak? Cant a couple just walk into a marriage registry office or have a state authorised person marry them, cant they write there own vows? Cant they elope and get married just the two of them like my parents-in-law did back in the day? Does not the state allow a woman to opt out of taking her partners surname if she wants? Is the concept and execution of restrictive 'marriage' in the UK a burden of law, social structure, family expectation or all three?

TheDoctrineOf2014 Sat 04-Jan-14 11:43:56

Sure, they can do all those things and many people do, but as a mechanism exists that is new and therefore culturally free of any implications, why not use that?

Personally I'm happy with marriage and actually got married in a church, but that doesn't mean I don't see the argument for CPs for any who would prefer them.

Lottapianos Sat 04-Jan-14 16:59:12

Doctrine - exactly! CPs aren't about taking marriage away from people who want it but the cultural baggage of the terms 'husband' and 'wife' isn't for everyone

Sausageeggbacon Sun 05-Jan-14 12:05:00

Interesting, DD is at Uni and has no intention of marrying as she thinks a career is where she wants to go. If that changes or not over the next few years you never know but she certainly sees a partner as a hindrance which is strange as at her age I was desperate to marry and have kids.

DS1 is 15 and adamant that he will never get married. He feels that even being a parent nowadays has too many complications so he intends to have short term relationships. Still at 15 most of us would be against marriage. His GF is 18 and I have no idea what she wants out of life but no matter what I may feel about her he is mature enough even at that age to make choices.

So children of both Sexes and neither side views marriage in a positive way.

Chunderella Sun 05-Jan-14 16:17:51

I and many of my friends felt the same at her age sausage, and we're all 29-30 now so arguably just about the same generation as your DD. The thinking was that you're limited in what you want to do next, if you have someone else to worry about. Ironically I met DH very soon after leaving! But I think it's a common enough viewpoint for younger people. Particularly now- with things being so tough, there are fewer opportunities to chase. The last thing you need is to be worrying about whether you'll be able to keep your relationship going if you do x internship, or take y job at the other end of the country. Having said that, some of the cities where there are jobs are so expensive that it's easier to live there with a partner and share expenses. So it's hard. I think the tough economic circumstances at the moment are definitely having an impact on young people's social attitudes.

I too am a supporter of Peter Tatchell's free love campaign, but while I support civil partnerships for straight couples, they're only going to be relevant to a small minority. Possibly a bigger issue is the number of people in unmarried partnerships, typically women, who are in an extremely vulnerable position due to being the one who makes the financial sacrifices in order to care for the family. The term 'common law spouse' has a lot to answer for. I suspect we're only starting to see the full implications of the problem, as most elderly people now are married. In a few generations, there are going to be people, mainly women, who will be suffering for lack of the IHT exemption and perhaps care home fees. This must be a feminist issue.

caroldecker Sun 05-Jan-14 20:07:21

chunderella what do you propose we do about the 'common law' spouse issue - you cannot force people into a contract - which is what marriage or CP is

Chunderella Sun 05-Jan-14 20:55:07

There's the $64,000 dollar question carol. You can actually force people into a contract, or something similar, and that's one of the options. You say that after x period living together, cohabitants acquire certain rights to the assets of the other. Of course this screws over people like santa upthread, who've deliberately avoided marriage for this reason. But not doing it screws over people who wrongly think they have some protection as a cohabitant. So it's a tough one. Myself, I think the best way to deal with it might be some kind of education campaign, but that's still an imperfect solution.

Thinking about what might actually happen, there's no real political will to pass straight CPs at the moment, alas. If it does happen, it's likely to be as a consequence of either an ECHR or ECJ ruling, or both. I believe a British couple have applied to the court already.

In terms of cohabitants automatically acquiring rights after a certain period, I think if we do go that way, it will be for policy and finance reasons. For example, if an unmarried couple live in a home that one owns exclusively, and the other then needs expensive care, I could see a ruling come in that the other partner automatically acquires a share in the equity at some point. I also suspect we might go down the road of cohabitants being entitled to spousal maintenance in certain circumstances, basically to try and cut the benefits bill, as part of a return to the old 90s policy of single parents having to seek maintenance in lieu of benefits.

caroldecker Sun 05-Jan-14 22:04:06

I think that education is the only way. There are significant/impossible difficulties in defining co-habitation.

Chunderella Sun 05-Jan-14 23:07:29

It's not that difficult. You just draw a line somewhere, and people fall on one side or the other. Create some body to rule on borderline cases if necessary. HMRC already pretty much do this when they're looking at tax credit claims, so the infrastructure is there if needed. I think education would be the fairest way, but suspect future policy on this issue will be driven by what is most financially expedient.

caroldecker Mon 06-Jan-14 19:26:35

When do you start co-habiting? First night, staying over a few nights a week - what if you retain your own home/space at parents? how do you prove they lived there? what about working abroad/forces family, are you living together if one of you spend 6 months abroad on tour?

Chunderella Mon 06-Jan-14 20:15:18

Again, you just draw a line and stick to it. You decide on an answer to all of these questions, and you enforce it. It isn't difficult- as I've said already, HMRC and the DWP already do this when they're looking at cohabitation in benefits cases. Use whatever rules they have. This isn't my preferred solution, btw, but it would be silly to think practicalities would prevent it from being implemented.

caroldecker Tue 07-Jan-14 00:14:48

here is the guidance for deciding if couples are living together for benefits purposes - as you see there are no rules or definitions, just guidance. This descision is taken at a point in time for benefits purposes, proving it is true for a period of time, say 5 years, particularly if one member does not want to would be impossible. Basically it would only be proven if both partners benefit - ie cost to the govt for pensions, IT - no benefit to an unmarried/CP poorer partner.

Chunderella Tue 07-Jan-14 19:12:36

Those of us who have worked in the advice sector know how very common such investigations are. It really wouldn't be at all difficult, let alone impossible, in the same way that it isn't now when HMRC and the DWP do benefits investigations. The political will simply needs to be there. And as I said I see this coming in as part of an attempt to pay less in benefits/get more of people's equity to pay for care home fees anyway. So if you want there to be an argument that one partner is benefitting from concealing something, there it is. Although it would be extremely simple to change the rules so only one of them has to be.

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