The Death of Marriage
“Man, the so called hunter has now become the hunted with unorthodox females adopting sexual guerilla tactics to lure, seduce and consume their chosen mate”
We’re days away from summer! And there’s a distinct possibility that you, a relative or an acquaintance are busy organising some aspect of a wedding, you know that special often very expensive event that has many breathless with nervousness, the same that takes months, (if not years) of dating, organising, negotiating, compromising and weighing so that you can live one day like a movie star with cameras flashing, people fussing and eyes watering as you legalise your commitment to your soul partner in a ceremony which for some, generally those guests that you hardly ever see but had to invite because it would otherwise look bad, went on a bit.
In reality, it’s not long after the rice has settled that the mass migration of guests begins and its off to the reception that (if you took out small mortgage) takes place at a nice hotel with an ‘oldie woldy’ decor or (if it’s a wedding on a budget) will take place at an old village hall or in somebody’s back garden. Regardless of the location, most will be plied with copious amounts of alcohol and just about enough food to see it to the end of the evening when, with blistered feet but still with a smile on their face, the happy couple will make their way to their hotel room or (if they’re lucky or rich enough) to the airport and onto a flight to some exotic location to consume even more alcohol and finally the marriage.
Because that’s the process, right?
Step 1 – You date
Step 2 – You get engaged
Step 3 – You get married
Step 4 – You ‘consume’ the marriage
Step 5 – You move in together
Step 6 – You start a family
That’s how it goes, isn’t it? No? You mean this wasn’t the process you or most of the people you know followed? Tut tut. So, which steps did you and yours take and in which sequence? Stop for a second to consider that. Generally speaking, the more ‘mature’ you are then the more you are likely to have followed the above steps in order.
Why? Well, I don’t think it’s because you didn’t enjoy the liberation and the excitement of your youth because most people do (even if they don’t truly appreciate it at the time). No, there’s one simple reason, and that is that the more we regress in time the more, as individuals, we would have been expected to do what was commonly perceived as ‘proper’. The above steps are ‘proper’ according to our social psychology, oh and the bible of course. At least it used to be. Fast forward and few hundred years and you can pretty much mix and match the sequence as you see fit without having to worry about any particular social stigma, unless you’re religious; the bible tells us that sex before marriage is not only a sin against God but it’s a sin against mankind. This philosophy is true of most religious cultures where the corruption of purity and morality is still dealt the harshest of punishments, such as the rack of personal failure, the guillotine of social isolation and the drowning weight of shame, to name a few. This is somewhat ironic since some of the religious initiatives that purport to preserve purity have been accused of degrading it. This is true of the so called Purity Ring which is sold directly to adolescents or their parents as gifts to their adolescent children. The acceptance of the ring is accompanied by a vow of celibacy until marriage. However, some say that the vow may as well be to have a life of psychological disorders brought on from the pressure not to fail and the depression and anxiety brought on in the event of failure. Although what draws the greatest criticism is the idealistic belief that a ring and a vow is enough to avoid pregnancy and the spread of sexual diseases. Conversely, ‘the ring’, is believed to contribute to the increase in both.
Whatever your opinion, the fact remains that, these days, sex outside out of wedlock is pretty much the norm and that almost mythical virginal bride is slowly but surely becoming the stuff of fairytales.
The ‘sacred feminine’ may have been persecuted centuries ago by the church but she came back and with a vengeance, cleverly exploiting that very thing that resides in every heterosexual male’s basic genetic programming; to pursue, to woo and to conquer a woman’s sexuality not only to satisfy physical and emotional urges but to ensure the continued survival of the human race. This basic natural law has endowed woman, the so called weaker sex, with spellbinding power over man but only for as long as she keeps her sexuality, um, sacred. This is the very thing that for centuries has fed that old belief that if a man sleeps with multiple partners, he’s a stud (conquered many) but if a woman does then she’s ‘easy’ (allows herself to be conquered too easily). This power shift was and, for some, still is a sore point since sometimes, “a good reputation is all a woman has.” Perhaps but the power struggle continues with today’s young women seeking equality not only in the boardroom but in the arena of life. Man, the so called hunter has now become the hunted with unorthodox females adopting sexual guerrilla tactics to lure, seduce and consume their chosen mate, and this isn’t for life but for as long as it pleases them, often just one evening, one hour or even a few minutes. Gone is the old adage of love at first sight, this has now been replaced with sex at first sight. Compatibility with a mate is not assessed by personality, things in common, their star sign, financial status or even their blood group but on their willingness to have some fun. This ‘fun’ generally takes place at weekends and is often initiated or fuelled by alcohol.
The same alcohol that the UK government has estimated costs the NHS £1.7 billion a year in hospital admissions with latest figures showing that there are over 57,000 NHS hospital admissions per year in England with a primary diagnosis specifically related to alcohol. This number has risen by 52% since 1996. What’s worse is that over 9% of these patients were under 18 years of age. It is believed that one of the reasons for this extraordinary increase is the fact that alcohol is now far cheaper than ever. In 2007, alcohol was actually 69% cheaper than it was in the 1980s (which is somewhat ironic considering the UK government’s perpetual tax increase on the product.) All of this is a far cry from chaperoned evenings for three, again, introduced to preserve the sanctity of a woman’s virginity until her wedding night, a concept that today is more commonly seen as romantic yet ‘unpractical’. We’re now able to ‘try before you buy’ most things, why not apply this principle to something as momentous as marriage? The answer is, we are and, more disturbingly, we’re also applying the same rule of a money back guarantee, in the form of a prenuptial agreement or lawsuit for the purpose of obtaining a ‘settlement’. The so called ‘institution’ of marriage has now become a commodity, an article, a possession that many are using for as long as is suits only to then claim a refund when it isn’t quite working the way it used to when it was first acquired. And why not, why persevere with something when, in true consumer fashion, getting a bargain on a divorce is so easy, with basic ‘divorce packages’ starting from as low as £25, all you need is the internet, a credit card and you’ll have that man (or woman) washed right out of your hair in no time. The epitome of our fast moving, self serving world: “Why bother spending time trying to salvage your marriage when it in itself is a waste of time? Swap your current partner for one that makes you happy.” What? No time to go out on the prowl? No problem, with that trusty credit card and an internet connection, you can get 3 FREE months membership to one of the world’s leading dating agencies and you’ll be flirting in no time. What’s that? You don’t want to burn your bridges too soon. No problem, membership has its privileges, your account is discreet and password protected which means your husband or wife need never know what you’ve been up to so you can flirt until your heart’s content. Then, once you’ve met the new partner of your dreams and are feeling more confident, you can break the news to your spouse (and your children if you have any) that you’ve decided to move on. And don’t worry about that infamous social stigma, it’s a lot of hot air, UK online dating is as popular as ever with an estimated annual spend of £60m.
So, bearing all that in mind, why bother getting married? What exactly is the benefit? It’s not spending time with the object of our affection because we’re already doing that, it’s not moving in with them because we’ve already done that, it’s not carnal pleasures because, well, we’ve all been doing that, so it must be having babies. Well, it’s not that either because more and more people are having babies regardless of their marital status, or age for that matter. “After all, when is a good time to have children?” This is a question I’ve personally heard several times. Well, I don’t know, let’s start with you being old enough not to have to wear a school uniform, then maybe having a job and some disposable income after paying your bills and you aren’t still living at home with your parents. I think that pretty much covers some of the basics. There is undoubtedly a growing and rather worrying apathetic approach to social responsibility, for some it’s due to the eternal struggle to make ends meet; no matter how hard your work, money never seems to be enough so some reach a stage where they give up; if money’s never enough then we may as well take the plunge and what will be will be. For others, those completely devoid of any self respect or morals, it’s the belief that the world (tax payers) actually owes them something combined with the fantasy that they’re rebelling against the system, against what is ‘socially acceptable’.
So, by today’s standard, what is and what is not socially acceptable? Well, I conducted a basic online poll of 50 people of various ages, male and female, which may or may not be indicative of public opinion but is nonetheless interesting. I asked what they believe was indicative of today’s society, these are the results: Sex before marriage = 65% Sex after marriage 6%. Babies before marriage = 53% Babies after marriage = 12% Living together before marriage = 47% Living together after marriage 12%. When asked if they supported this new culture, 29% voted that they did versus 24% who voted they did not. If these alarming results are anything to go by then it’s clear; that institution known as marriage is slowly but surely dying (if not dead already) and many of us are quite happy with that. This is the message we’re sending to impressionable teenagers; marriage is just a very expensive excuse for a knees up with an equally expensive holiday thrown in for good measure, especially when considering how easy it is to get out of a difficult, angst packed youth and into your own home. Okay, there’s just the minor inconvenience of getting pregnant (is that really an inconvenience?) oh and living in a hostel to get yourself bumped up the council’s waiting list but the reward; your own abode with all expenses paid. It’s not all bad, it beats the stress of having to work all hours. And there’s no incentive to get out and actually earn a living because to do so would mean losing a raft of benefits. Most people on this type of benefit will tell you that they often better off claiming than working. It’s almost like being a ‘surrendered teen’ rather than a ‘surrendered wife’, you may have to adapt to living off the basics but you get a ready made home including a ‘husband’ and ‘child’. Skip your youth and go straight to family life but without the sacrifices.
Now, how many people over the age of thirty reading this article had the luxury of adopting this strategy when they were a teenager? (or had the guts to)? The worse thing is most of these instant family recipes lack the basic ingredient for a successful home; life experience. Some are barely out of school. And it’s getting worse. In 2007; there were over 40,000 conceptions in England involving females under the age of 18 with almost half leading to abortions. There were nearly 8,000 conceptions for females under the age of 16. Progress? The reality is that, like it or not, education starts at home. Good morals, a sense of self worth and a strong work ethic must be indoctrinated from an early age by parents, backed up by the education system and not vice versa. It’s this basic lack of foundation that is breeding (if you’ll excuse the pun) a new generation of apathetic, self indulgent, misguided and disillusioned civilians who, tragically, are setting the same standard for future generations.
For course, and thankfully, there are still some exceptions to this rule, so please don’t email!
The question remains; what would we be as a race if we lacked any kind of moral structure? Marriage; the union between a man and a woman (or civil partnership) is the very fabric of our society), it’s the legal ceremony that holds us accountable to each other, a contract that literally states that through thick and thin you’re committed to take care of your partner. It’s where you say, okay, things aren’t always going to be perfect but that’s exactly why I took the time to get to know you, consider my finances to see if I can afford to move in and spend the rest of my life with you and, all being well, have our own family. And if we don’t, well, at least we’ll still have each other. That’s why it all started in the first place, isn’t it?
There’s a common misconception that if you’ve lived with a partner for a couple of years that you get the same rights as a married couple, this is not true. The so called ‘common law’ marriage does not exist. Couples who live together have hardly any rights when compared to married couples, e.g. your partner doesn’t have to pay you any maintenance if you gave up your job to look after the children (although they would have to pay child support), if you live in a home that is rented by your partner and he or she asks you to leave or walks out, you’d have no automatic right to stay. This is also true if you live in a mortgaged home without any form of cohabiting agreement. Furthermore, your partner would have the right to walk away with any savings or possessions purchased by them. You’d only have rights over your things or items you co purchased. This is assuming you both agree to split these. Furthermore, should your partner die without a will, you’d have no entitlement to state bereavement benefit nor any pension based on their national insurance contributions but, most importantly, you’d have no rights to their estate; this would pass automatically to their immediate (or blood) family. I can confirm that there have been some suggestions but there are currently no plans to change the law nor, some would say, should there be if we want to preserve the importance of marriage.