Marriage is a social and legal institution which has experienced substantial change and progress over the past 100 years. This means, its relevance to not only you, but to society as a whole, has changed and continues to change.
We could certainly describe the early days of marriage as an arrangement of convenience, with attached benefits.
Let’s jump back to convict times. Picture yourself. You’ve stolen a loaf of bread, you’re now wearing horizontal stripes (ew, not slimming) and you’ve been shipped off to this new, vast, bloody hot country. You’re English, so it’s likely you’re whinging a lot about this.
For female convicts, getting married was a way to escape incarceration. Hell Yeah!
Want to settle down? No one is going to let you lease or buy any land unless you’re married.
Get this - until 1966, the Commonwealth Public Service had a rule that married women could only be employed on a temporary basis. As soon as you got married, you were expected to resign from your ongoing job. This meant that, you basically had to choose between being a wife, and getting a promotion.
For the bulk of the 20th Century, the vast majority of people were getting married; they were getting married young; they weren’t living together before they were married; and they certainly weren’t having children.
So, let’s go over the pre 1970 reasons (yeah, yeah, aside from love) for getting married:
Not going to gaol
Wider social acceptance
Financial security/Having a roof over your head
Being able to move out of Mum and Dad’s house and live with your love
Being able to have sexy times
Being able to have that nuclear family you always wanted
The church smiles upon you
All pretty good reasons, but there were also some downsides to olden-days marriage:
If you’re over 25, you’ve basically expired from the dating game
You don’t know what it’s like to live with your partner (do they leave the toilet seat up?)
You haven’t had a lot of time to think about whether this is the person you should be marrying, nor have you had a lot of time to iron out the kinks in your relationship.
You’re marrying the person you were dating at 19 (A MISTAKE FOR MANY OF US).
Marriage is kind of a “forever” arrangement (which could be bad )
If you do get divorced, due to very extreme circumstances, you’re unlikely to ever get married again.
Enter the Family Law Act 1975. This lovely piece of legislation brought in “No-Fault Divorce.”
You didn’t have to cite a reason for getting divorced – i.e. unfaithfulness, abuse, addiction – and you only have to be separated for 12 months before the divorce could be granted.
The introduction of this law brought with it, a substantial shift in society’s attitude towards marriage. Marriage was no longer the life-long “sentence” it once was.
So, now that divorce was easier – more people were getting divorced – which means that more people were entering second marriages. They’ve already lived with someone else, they already have children…
So they’re thinking – hey – I reckon there are a few things I would like to do differently this time around. Their children are experiencing this shift in attitude and the country sees a massive shift in statistics.
By the 1980s, couples were dating for a lot longer before they decided to get married. In 1990, the median age at first marriage was 24.3 for women and 26.5 years for men. In 2010, it shifted to 27.9 years for men and 26.6 years for women. Now, it's around 27 for women and 28 for men.
In 2015, 81% of couples getting married were already living together.
I’m seeing many of these trends in the couples I have, or will be marrying. Lots of you are living together, lots of you have kids, many of you have been together for over ten years, some of you are on your second or third marriage…
…even more excitingly, some of you are marrying your partner of the same sex!
Something pretty ew happened in 2004. Then Prime Minister John Howard - smelling the whiff of the global progression towards legalising same sex marriage - decided to make it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that marriage in Australia was between a man and a woman. (This was actually in response to a lesbian couple getting married in Canada and applying for their marriage to be recognised in Australia.)
Skip forward to the recent happenings we’re all familiar with. The very expensive and constitutionally questionable ‘Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey’; and same-sex marriage being legalised in Australia on 9 December 2017.
From here on in, let us walk with our heads held high and pretend Australia wasn’t stuck in the past for like, 13+ years too long.
While it’s not a pleasant time in history to remember, the debate as to whether same-sex couples should be able to marry – brought up the question of , “Why get married at all?!”
With de facto laws mirroring many legal benefits of marriage, coupled with wider society accepting that relationships and even families are not formed solely through marriage – what is the relevance of marriage in 2018?
I am truly of the mantra, “to each their own” . I also believe that everyone’s reasons for getting married are and should be different.
As every relationship is different. There is no right or wrong way. There is no ideal path.
But, for what it’s worth, here are three reasons why I see marriage as important in 2018.
1) MARRIAGE IS AN INCONTROVERTIBLE RELATIONSHIP
Marriage is a really, legally official way of declaring – WE ARE IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER. I will not bore you, with the amount of instances in which someone or someone’s family has tried to deny a de facto relationship in a court of law.
If something goes wrong, establishing a de facto relationship requires significant proof. Which means that partners have to provide evidence about the very intimate details of their life, which may, or may not fit into a legal mould of a ‘relationship’. It can get really nasty.
Look, Beyoncé was really on to something when she sang about putting a ring on it. You get married, aint nobody denying you guys are in a relationship.
2) SOCIETAL STATUS
Look, as sad as it is – people are more likely to take you seriously if you say “my husband” over “my boyfriend” or “my partner”.
You could be with your partner for 20 years, but, the couple who have been together for two, and are married – could be seen, by some to be more committed.
Getting married is a great way of communicating to the world – WE LOVE EACH OTHER LOTS AND LOTS AND ARE COMMITTED TO EACH OTHER AND TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY.
This was one of the stronger arguments in the same-sex marriage debate. Apples and Oranges are both fruit right… but they’ll never be the same thing. Married and De Facto is same-same… but different.
This societal recognition is likely to have a positive impact on your relationship, as well as your sense of self.
3) A GESTURE OF LOVE AND COMMITMENT
Um, what is more bloody romantic than SOMEONE TELLING YOU THEY WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF THEIR LIFE WITH YOU AND THEY WANT ALL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO KNOW THAT!
The proposal, the rings, the getting dressed up, the photos to look back on forever. LOVE IS BEAUTIFUL AND WE SHOULD CELEBRATE IT!
Why is it that people are so often jealous of other people’s relationships, but the second they head to a wedding they’re like, OMG THEY’RE SO PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER #GOALS.
It’s because love and commitment is truly beautiful.
YOU, THEY KNOW THEIR PERSON IS YOU. THEY ARE YOUR PERSON.
Sorry, I’m getting excited…..
4) THERE IS NOTHING TO BE SCARED OF!
Hunny, it’s 2018. If you marry someone – you’re not going to be trapped in a miserable domestic situation, where the other person has a 50% claim to everything you own, you never have sex and you get slapped if you lay a single eye on another person. Trust me, it doesn’t work like that.
(The young busty blonde marrying the old billionaire and receiving a windfall when he dies is a myth – his children will probably have a lot to sat about that).
You can maintain your identity and assets as an individual, even if you’re married to another person.
Marriage does not equal joint finances, joint friends, and joint interests. Hey, unless you want it to!
As I said before, just as there is no right way to “relationship” there is no right way to “be married”.
I would love to know your reasons for getting married, or why you would want to get married. OR, why you’re getting married again!