It’s great that same sex marriages have been legalised in England and Wales, a piece of legislation which took effect on the 29th March 2014. In light of the government and the law recognising this change in society, I thought it would be good to reflect on the values of marriage and what getting married actually means to those who participate in it.
Image Curtsey – Photobucket – Hamster_luvr
There is a legal definition of marriage – a legal contract/union of two people that establishes a set of obligations and rights between them, them and their children and them and their family in law. This definition makes the whole thing very serious – serious enough that it is legislation in many countries. Marriage legislation sets out an outline of these rights that two people share and can prove beneficial for tax reasons or even to gain entry into other countries. For most, people do not enter a marriage for these reasons or for it to be recognised in law – they do it out of love, a connection, a bond they want to declare to the world. There is something much more deeper to marriage than how much money you can gain or where you end up in the world as a result (although yes some people do take advantage of this!).
Do two people today go into a marriage with the sole intention of being together forever or do people see it as something they can do now and ‘always just get a divorce later’ if it doesn’t work out? In England and Wales 42% of marriages end up in divorce (ONS, Dec 2012) and the greatest chance of divorce taking place is between the 4th and 8th anniversary (maybe something to do with the 7 year itch?) Weirdly though the rate of divorce is actually decreasing! Even with this being the stats on marriage and more importantly divorce, I really feel the values of marriage have changed from their historic roots. It seems to me that people want to invest their time and money in throwing the best day of their lives, rather than focusing on what it will mean once they are married or even seeing the significance of the marriage ceremony itself (whether civil or religious). Over the screaming of excitement when that engagement ring hits the finger, are people really thinking about what it will mean to be married or are they thinking, yes now I can buy the best dress, have the most expensive wedding ring, have the flashiest car, etc, etc, etc.
I am married and for me the significance of what it meant to enter into such a sacred union sat with the ceremony itself. I know I didn’t need to spend lots of money or get the most expensive wedding ring, but the symbolism of the ring, where exactly in the world I got married (and why) as well as how the ceremony was conducted, were the most important aspects to me. The rest of it, drinks reception, wedding breakfast, I saw as a celebration to the ceremony. To me, the whole values of marriage was reflected in the ceremony not in the rest of it. The ceremony set these values between my husband and I and as for the rest of the marriage, it was about up-holding these values as best as we can. I wanted to invest in the future rather than in just one day.
What about the effect of marriage – does a piece of paper change a couple? Legally yes but in my personal experience, no it really hasn’t changed anything about our relationship. If you truly have a strong connection with someone, marriage is a logical step to take to help you both see that it’s something of significance, of importance to the both of you – not a statement to the rest of the world. It is something that is personal that only the two of you in it will ever understand – that’s because every single marriage is different. Why is that? It’s because of the two people themselves, who they are and what they are like. Marriage is what ever you want it to be, not what stories, magazines or others tell you it is.
So yes the legal definition gives a structure to marriage and what we as a society know of marriage plays a part in the day when you become ‘one’ – but what you do after that and the values you put into place with your significant other, is all down to you 100 percent. So those marriages that work out, I like to think they do because they have set their own rules and not tried to work at a set of rules made up by fictional stories. Those who work have a true understanding of the other – what they need, what they want and what they desire. Its about honouring that connection and living it – simple.
So many things in life are so complicated – does marriage really need to be one of them?