You can absolve a marriage if communicable venereal disease is involved but not a civil partnership. Ah the romance of matrimony, says Siân Bevan.
You may have heard of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan. They’ve been arguing for the extension of civil partnerships (CP) to straight couples (at the moment, only same-sex sweethearts can choose between marriage or a CP). Their argument is based on the dirty great big pawprint of misogyny across much of marriage’s history. More than 37,000 signed an online petition in support of extending civil partnerships and the whole thing went (unsuccessfully) to judicial review last month.
Their idea would mean that people could make a formal commitment to each other while avoiding an institution with an awkward past. Simple things like the fact that marriage certificates only have room for fathers’ names, where a CP leaves room to record your wee Mam’s details too. Another interesting difference? You can absolve a marriage if communicable venereal disease is involved but not a civil partnership. Fact of the day, eh?
Don’t get me wrong: I love attention, I love talking in front of big groups of people and have frequently made a massive tit of myself while doing so but there’s something about the thought of me getting married which makes my teeth hurt.
And yes, I know, there are weddings which don’t involve lots of fuss, Spanx and hairgrips but whenever I think about the idea of being someone’s wife I feel like I would only ever be pretending.
I’ve thought a lot about it. I’ve been in a relationship for nearly 10 years which has led to a lot of people asking terrible, terrible questions like when am I going to get him to ask the question and “Haven’t you managed to get a ring on your finger yet?” like I’m failing a test set by bastards where the prize is a flouncy dress. I don’t even have my old failsafe excuse of solidarity with my gay pals (thanks a lot, equal marriage rights).
“I do think there’s a chance I’ll still be in love with my partner when we’re old and wrinkly and his balls drag on the floor and get tangled in my knitting. But there’s a chance that I won’t, and I think that’s OK.”
Here’s the thing: I’m not anti-marriage. I’ve been to some lovely weddings. I’ve cried during vows, I’ve home-made terrible presents and I’ve tried really hard to remember my friend’s new name when they decide to take on that of their partner’s family. I just don’t think it should be the default option. Surely your big day and your lifetime commitment would mean more if it wasn’t the thing you were just expected to do after a while shagging the same person?
One of the greatest parts of feminism is choice and exercising free will. A gal can choose to be a housewife with her husband’s name, or live with someone without a ring in a way which would have been unthinkable in our grandparents’ generation. Neither of us is wrong and, as long as we make decisions based on we actually want, neither attitude to taking marriage vows means we’re letting down the sisterhood.
But… it’s still not for me. There’s still an implication of forever in a civil partnership and – despite being a soppy romantic in lots of ways – I don’t really believe in forever. I mean, I think it can happen. I do think there’s a chance I’ll still be in love with my partner when we’re old and wrinkly and his balls drag on the floor and get tangled in my knitting. But there’s a chance that I won’t, and I think that’s OK.
I don’t think the end of a relationship means the whole thing was a flop and it’s a lot of pressure to sign up to something which says IN IT ‘TIL ONE OF US IS DEAD. I actually feel more confident in a relationship where you can have brutal conversations about splitting up, narrowing our eyes at the glare of the possibility, then going back to watching Jessica Jones.
What I want is a wee piece of paper that says, “Right now, this is my person. If I get hit by a bus, or trip over some saggy balls, this is the person who gets to make all the decisions.” I want to be able to tear up that piece of paper without any financial implications for either of us, helping us move on with minimum drama and a firm handshake.
I’d call it the ‘Person Certificate.’ Soon people would call it the Percer and it would become a super cool thing to do. People could wear Percer jewellery but it would be a matter of pride to only choose really cheap stuff that you could give to charity without thinking about it.
And then people would have Percer ceremonies and then family members would ask when you’re getting Percer-ed and shouldn’t you have got him to Percer you by now especially at your age and your cousin got Percer-ed a year ago now and it’s getting difficult to explain to people why no one will Percer you and…
Ach. It’d just get ruined. If anyone asks, he’s allowed to pull the plug unless I say otherwise on Twitter.1934 Views
Siân is a writer, performer, creator of joyful things and sometimes she tries to explain things to young people. She’s a mainly vegan feminist who loves elephants, is scared of the dark and likes stories most of all.