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Can you talk to me about marriage?

(78 Posts)
NotTheFarmersWife Tue 03-Feb-15 11:54:21

I hope no-one minds me posting here. I read a lot, but rarely post in FWR cos the high calibre of poster makes me feel a bit fick wink but I have no remotely feminist-minded friends or family and I'm winding myself up something chronic with no-one to talk to about this. I thought maybe you smart bunch could help me make sense of my own mind.

DP and I are after setting up a smallholding. We can't afford the outrageous cost of housing in SE, but can't move out of SE because of family etc. So we thought it'd be nice to get a little bit of land, and keep chickens and pigs and what have you. Try for a bit of self-sufficiency. But here's the catch - it's DPs money that will be used to buy the land and animals etc to start with. I don't have a penny to my name and I'm not currently working - and nor will I be, if we go ahead with this - well, I'll be working harder than I ever have before I'm sure - but not for a salary... I would be so very fucked if something happened to him, like a stroke, or a younger woman, you know, the usual suspects.

So I thought, well, we should get married. That would protect me, further down the line, if I'm out of the workplace for fifteen years and then suddenly it all goes tits up and he's gone and whatever else. (I think, anyway?)

But I'm really conflicted about getting married. Part of me doesn't want to, because it's an outdated patriarchal institution, ownership of women, all that jazz. Part of me doesn't want to because DP isn't particularly bothered about getting married. He has said he's quite happy to get married if I want to, but to him it doesn't really mean anything. Hilariously, it doesn't mean a great deal to me in terms of commitment, my parents, grandparents, friends parents etc, all divorced - but I can't stop thinking about that old trope that men who aren't interested in marriage actually are not interested in marrying you, you know? And if I'm completely honest (and I try not to be, when it comes to this sort of thing!), part of me is pretty gutted, actually, that I've borne children for two men but neither has wanted to marry me. Which is possibly the most ridiculous bit I know but hey, social conditioning eh? But anyway the upshot of it all is that it makes me feel hurt and defensive and kind of like, well fuck it I didn't want to get married anyway. I don't know what getting married actually entails but I don't think I can do it when I feel like it's just a bit of a farce on our part. But I know I can't give up any and all paid employment outside of the home if I'm not going to have any real claim to this farm we intend to build.

So maybe I'd be better off going back to "proper" work instead? I don't have great earning potential, I buggered up my education in a big way, and have already taken several years out to raise kids, but I'm not yet thirty and after a few years it should be enough to make some sort of useful contribution to the household, and then if the relationship does flounder, I'm in a much better position to build a single life on.

I have tried to talk to DP but he just says we can do whatever I want/whatever will make me happy, and that I can't keep planning a future without him (I'm not trying to do that, but having had one supposedly-forever relationship crumble, I need to know I'm going to be ok if something does go wrong). My mum said that if I get married I should make sure my hair looks nice and not wear jeans to the registry office. (See what I'm up against) I just don't know what to do. TBH, I'm not even sure what posting here is going to achieve. My sincere apologies if you got all the way through just to realise it was a self-indulgent whinge. I just need to go and get a real job don't I? Or is there some other way? Am I just being a massive twat? (You are welcome to tell me I'm being a massive twat but please do it nicely because I am feeling really fragile generally at the moment and this is a particularly sensitive subject for me)

NotTheFarmersWife Tue 03-Feb-15 11:55:58

Oh shit I meant to say that was tongue in cheek, about a younger woman "happening" to DP. I don't hold women responsible for the behaviour of men.

bobs123 Tue 03-Feb-15 12:01:11

Does DP want to get married?

If you proceed with this venture does he need you to work there?

Can he not make a will/sign a contract leaving everything to you if something were to happen to him?

Even if he pays for the land it can be in both your names.

Life insurance?

BuffyBotRebooted Tue 03-Feb-15 12:02:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Tue 03-Feb-15 12:06:25

Maybe go and see a solicitor who can talk to you about the best way of ensuring that both of you are protected/taken care of if something happens to either of you? I have a feeling that the easiest way of achieving this is through marriage though.

What I would say is that all the reasons not to get married (it being a horribly anti-women institution historically) are kind of null (to me at least) if the person you are marrying doesn't hold those values. A marriage can be an equal partnership between two people, and if you're going into a very exciting joint venture like a small holding (tiny bit jealous here) then maybe come at it from that point of view. Have you told him how you feel about him not seeming to want to marry you?

almondcakes Tue 03-Feb-15 12:13:49

Is there some kind of business plan for this that shows how much money you are going to make from chickens and pigs?

Will he still have a job?

50 chickens is maybe £1,800 a year, not including the cost of your labour.

PetulaGordino Tue 03-Feb-15 12:29:11

i think the smallholding thing sounds like it could be wonderfully rewarding and fun, but you are absolutely right to consider the legal and financial implications of your plans.

i'm not married to dp, but we have basically decided that we will keep not being married as long as we can easily and cheaply tie up the legal and financial stuff so that each is fairly represented, up until it basically becomes easier to get married to tie it all up according to our circumstances.

(well actually dp is more romantic about it than me, but that's my view of it!)

marriage isn't a perfect solution with a perfect history, but you know that. the more important thing is that you are building your life with a man who shares your view that it is important and worthwhile making sure you are both sharing things equitably and that you are adequately protected should things go wrong

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 03-Feb-15 12:37:46

You are not being a massive twat.

When I did get married it was right after I read Jude the Obscure. I would have written less coherently and ranted more if there were MN then ...

FloraFox Tue 03-Feb-15 12:50:53

I think you are being completely reasonable in thinking about this the way you are. I know what you mean about your DP not wanting to marry you but it sounds like he doesn't not want to marry you, he just doesn't care much about the institution of marriage and thinks you don't care about it either.

You could go to a lawyer and have various documents put in place to protect you if you go ahead with this without getting married. You should definitely do something as you would be very vulnerable financially if you don't. However, what you're really doing there is replicating the financial aspects of being married and it will cost a lot more than getting married in the registry office (romantic, eh?)

You've said you're conflicted between the idea of marriage as a romantic situation where DH wants to marry you, your need for some financial protection for your contribution to this smallholding and your understanding / rejection of the patriarchal aspects of marriage.

If you want to do the smallholding, it seems a shame to give that up and keep working instead. I think you have a DC with your DP so there are other legal considerations as well as just your contribution to this smallholding. If you work PT or you are held back because you have DCs, you may still find yourself vulnerable if something goes wrong with DP so that may not be the ideal solution.

If you care even a little bit about the romantic aspect of it, I can't think of anything less romantic than sitting in a solicitor's office talking about the financial settlements if you break up and entering into long and expensive documents because neither of you want to marry the other. That would make me feel a bit shit really.

NotTheFarmersWife Tue 03-Feb-15 13:03:35

DP doesn't actively want to get married, but is quite happy to do so on my account. He says it just doesn't mean anything to him personally. It's me that actively dislikes the whole schtick. That is a good point Hoppy, that if it's meaningless to him, well, it's probably not going to be terribly oppressive. We have a vague notion to do it once the buying of the land is done, so probably in the summer. I think he would leave me the land in his will yes but it seems to me the buggering off is the thing that would leave me really in the lurch.

There's no numbers Almondcakes, no, we don't need to make much, it's something to do with creating an agricultural tie on the land to entitle us to live there. He would continue to work his actual job to cover living costs and I would be working on the land, doing the animals and vegetables. It does sound much nicer than the admin I'd be doing in an office otherwise doesn't it? I do really want this.

I feel uncomfortable about my name being involved at first tbh, as he is spending money that he had before we were together, and I have contributed little to this relationship financially, which I'm alright with (the joy of living with me is priceless I'm sure) but I don't know, it just doesn't sit right with me for some reason. Maybe it's a concern about outside perception? I wouldn't want anyone to think I'd done anything with a view to getting my hands on his money? That's why I thought being married might be the way forward - I might have been thinking along similar lines to you Buffy. Then my contribution would be recognised proportionately over time. I don't know what other sort of contract there could be that wouldn't make me feel like his employee.

Oh and yes I have told him I am offended by his lack of desire to marry me, despite my well-known anti-marriage stance. He looks a bit confused, says "But we can get married" and then makes the tea. He is a kind man and I appreciate that position is not one of irrefutable logic.

I dunno, I just can't get my head round the idea of getting married. I look at people on facebook getting married and they just look so into it, I don't get it and it seems odd to get married when I feel like that. I've told myself it's a just a technicality (just a bit of paper!) but I still feel vaguely fradulent somehow. It makes me feel uncomfortable.

NotTheFarmersWife Tue 03-Feb-15 13:08:23

Oh I x-posted, sorry. I think I know what you mean Flora. I don't want to make complicated plans and provisions for the event of us splitting up - I want us to last! - that just seems awful - but I can't just throw myself into this without making sure there is something going on to protect me if it goes tits up.

And thank you all for not making me feel stupid. I tried really hard to explain this to my mum, and just got a earful of shit about hair and dresses and photographs. I love her but she's not great at feminism or er, listening to me wink

PetulaGordino Tue 03-Feb-15 13:10:10

marriage would be the easiest and probably cheapest way to make sure you are protected (hair and dresses and photographs dependent of course wink)

almondcakes Tue 03-Feb-15 13:19:42

I have kept chickens, now down to two as phasing them out and have various friends who are smallholders (owning at least pigs, chickens and sheep).

The situation invariably goes like this: man works full time, woman works part time and runs small holding. It has a huge impact on restricting her career and ties her to the home and a schedule and none on his. The situation is really no different from woman doing all the wife work (cooking, cleaning etc) except that there is now more of it. It isn't really any different from making all your own clothes, or your own furniture or whatever.

And if you are not married, and your name isn't on any deed, you really have very few rights. Even if he puts your name on his will, can't he just change his mind later and write a new will without telling you? I don't know.

If you want to do it because you will enjoy it, that's great, and you should do it. You will legally be a smallholder because you will own a pig, but for all other purposes you are not any different from any other unmarried SAHM.

Get legal advice.

almondcakes Tue 03-Feb-15 13:38:06

Sorry, he will legally be a smallholder because he owns both the pig and the land. You won't be a smallholder in law. You're just the person doing the work.

PetulaGordino Tue 03-Feb-15 13:49:12

what is the plan wrt the deeds OP? would it be his name alone? if you are planning to do the work involved and you decide not to get married i would hope that you would be joint tenants or tenants in common at least

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Tue 03-Feb-15 13:51:46

I wasn't invested in the idea of marriage, it was just the thing you did (and then bought a house and had a baby) and it was an excuse to have a big party and wear a pretty dress. But... on the day it was incredibly emotional and it felt very important; to make a formal legal commitment to being together and sharing our lives. I know we wouldn't be any different if we hadn't got married, but as much as I just thought it was a bit of paper and a contract, it certainly felt very significant.

I also think, as a pairing of two equals, marriage doesn't have to be about protecting you in case he does one or dies, it's not about preparing for the worst (though it certainly does achieve that part) it's a commitment to preparing for the future together.

Ultimately though I think you're best getting some legal advice. Your partner sounds nice and reasonable. Saying that he's not that bothered about marriage (presumably because he thinks you will stay together, piece of paper or no) but that if you want to do it he will, is quite nice, if it's not done in a huffy way. He wants to make you happy?

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 03-Feb-15 14:06:05

What we want is civil partnership.

If we have that for heterosexual couples I'd divorce and then get a civil partnership. wink grin

NotTheFarmersWife Tue 03-Feb-15 14:51:05

Almondcakes, thank you. That is what I suspected would be the case if we were to remain umarried. Although I wouldn't even be working part-time, so I'd have literally nothing in the event of a split. He'd be happy to do it the other way round, with me working and him farming, but I can't earn as much as him at the moment, I'd have to get back to work for a few years before that would be practical. The awfulness of trying to find affordable housing around here means if we're going down this route, we want to do it as soon as we practically can.

And the other thing is, I do really hate working in jobs - I've never developed a proper career, so going to work isn't rewarding for me in any way other than the obvious paycheque at the end of the month (which is pitiful anyway). I never manage more than eighteen months or so in a job before I start to get itchy and fed up. Being outside is noticeably beneficial to my mental health so I think it'd be a much better way of life for me.

Petula I think it would all be in his name to start with - I did outline above why I feel uncomfortable with my name on the deeds to the land, certainly at the beginning. I don't know how easy it is to change something like that further down the line. And if you can, I would worry it would be one of those things you just never got around to, until one day something goes horribly and then it's not an option anymore.

No Hoppy there's no huffiness about it at all, he's absolutely happy to do it for my benefit, regardless of the whys and wherefores. He is adamant we are together forever no matter what. I am more cynical though and thus I want a contingency plan.

YY to civil partnership! That I would feel fine about I think.

Carol87 Tue 03-Feb-15 15:24:06

I think getting married would be the worst possible answer. Marriage is about the commitment two people make to each other, to TRUST, LOVE and share their WHOLE lives together. Just marrying each other for the sake of security is making a mockery out of the whole thing. If you listen to the vowels when they are promised it isn't exactly one sided and certainly isn't based on ownership.

If neither of you believe in the sanctity of marriage then why is it even one of your options?

I see where you are coming from with wanting security but surely if you are in this together then you need to sit down together and tell him of your concerns, or at least ask him if you can buy whatever it is you want to buy in both of your names and with equal ownership. That seems like the cheapest, less conflicting route to take.

What happens if you do get married for this reason and then things fall apart. You then have a divorce to deal with...and pay for! Surely more people get hurt from a divorce, children, families etc.

However if it doesn't fall apart and then in 5, 10, 20 years you both change your minds and do want to get married, wouldn't it be much more of a special occasion knowing that (civil of church) when you say your vowels you both actually mean every single word you are promising to each other?

There are other ways of getting the security you desire, just at the other post has mentioned, life insurance, joint ownership on the deeds.

FuckOffGroundhog Tue 03-Feb-15 15:27:44

I think you are being completely reasonable in thinking about this the way you are. I know what you mean about your DP not wanting to marry you but it sounds like he doesn't not want to marry you, he just doesn't care much about the institution of marriage and thinks you don't care about it either.

I agree with Flora, if he didn't want to marry you. He wouldn't marry you. He just doesn't see the point as you are both happy together and in his lovely male privileged mind can't see why you should worry about being left in the cold should he change his mind about things.

Practically if you do decide not to get married what about being paid a wage by your partner? You are working his land and looking after the children while he works so he would be paying out money towards child care and a worker for his land anyway. Could you have an agreement that for every so much you "earn" you get a percentage of the land? (No idea how this would work in a contract or if it is possible) until you get to 50%

Worst case scenario then if you separate you can put the small holding on your CV with ex as an employer as you earned a wage.

My mum said that if I get married I should make sure my hair looks nice and not wear jeans to the registry office. (See what I'm up against)

Should you choose to get married however.. on this occasion listen to your mother wink A pair of nice trousers will be fine.

FuckOffGroundhog Tue 03-Feb-15 15:30:41

I think getting married would be the worst possible answer. Marriage is about the commitment two people make to each other, to TRUST, LOVE and share their WHOLE lives together. Just marrying each other for the sake of security is making a mockery out of the whole thing. If you listen to the vowels when they are promised it isn't exactly one sided and certainly isn't based on ownership.

That's a lovely idea but it's actually nothing to do with the tradition of marriage at all.

What happens if you do get married for this reason and then things fall apart. You then have a divorce to deal with...and pay for! Surely more people get hurt from a divorce, children, families etc.

DO you genuinely believe that she, her partner and her child that she already has will not be as bothered if they separate because they weren't married? confused

PetulaGordino Tue 03-Feb-15 15:33:32

i do understand about the deeds thing OP, but i really do think you should consider that option if you decide not to get married. it has implications wrt inheritance tax etc (depending on value), and as you say, there is the risk of just not getting round to sorting it out once you feel as though you have put the work in and have "earned" the right. if you get married then it doesn't matter whose name is on the deeds so much

FuckOffGroundhog Tue 03-Feb-15 15:37:44

I dunno, I just can't get my head round the idea of getting married. I look at people on facebook getting married and they just look so into it, I don't get it and it seems odd to get married when I feel like that.

This is a fairly new and insane thing OP. I wouldn't worry about it, lots of people do it because they know that this is the person that they love and care for and want to make sure that both partners are safe and legally secure in their relationship. You don't have to wear a big poofy dress or even eat cake or have any guests. Don't tell your mother just bring the kids and go out to eat. Its about your family and doing what is right for you and if getting married makes you more comfortable than it's what you should do.

Have you already made provisions should something happen to one of you? Your partner won't have power of attorney if you haven't set something up and personally I'd hat to have my parents be my next of kin should I be laid out in coma somewhere.

LurcioAgain Tue 03-Feb-15 15:44:39

Carol87 - I think you may have been reading too many romantic novels/paid too much attention to the religious mystique surrounding marriage. Anthropologically and historically speaking, it is exactly as the OP describes (albeit with subtle regional and cultural variations depending on the broader culture in which it's embedded). It is an institution aimed at protecting property rights and making clear the inheritance rights (or lack thereof) of children. And very often it is deeply weighted against women, because (no big surprise) it's set up to favour the class with more power, which in most societies is men. However, within that broad brush description there are often tweaks which actually protect women - for instance in Medieval times, the dowry was often tied up in such a way as to provide for the woman should she become widowed - it wasn't straightforwardly a "payment" for taking an "unproductive daughter" off one's hands.

And nowadays, under UK law as it currently stands, I'd say that legally there is no single package that will get you the same protection as marriage in the event of divorce or widowhood. The interesting thing about the legal alternatives is they all rely on both parties being reasonable in drawing up the agreements. But if, for instance, you shack up with a controlling bastard who keeps the mortgage in his name, if you finally escape you have no claim on the property. If on the other hand you marry him, you do at least have a claim to half the property. (Of course, in an ideal world you wouldn't have married him in the first place).

With my ex, I told him in no uncertain terms that however much he disapproved of marriage (he said as an atheist he couldn't get round its roots in Christianity - which is hogwash), if we ever bought a house together, I wanted to be married, even if it was just him, me and a couple of randoms grabbed off the street on the day to witness the piece of paper.

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Tue 03-Feb-15 15:55:35

If you have a civil wedding, you can say whatever you want in your vows (including as many vowels as you like). Marriage is about what you want it to be about. If you want it to be a legal protection for both of you, then that's what it can be.

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