Monday, 11 January 2010

Our Silver Non-Wedding

Today it's the 25th anniversary of  Mrs Journeyman and myself not actually being married.

The more Catholic part of my family have done some mental acrobatics to pretend that we've been married all along - as if having had a wedding that they weren't invited to is the lesser of two evils in comparison to having 'lived in sin' for all this time.

Catholicism taught me that marriage was a 'sacrament' - just like holy orders and the last rites. So my reaction to my religious upbringing was  a major factor for me in choosing not to get married.

Another was the history of the institution of marriage: It only really caught on with the  establishment of Western Capitalism, property rights, and the ruling class forcing their own social conventions  into the private lives of the rest of us.  Before then, for those of us who weren't property owners there was a much more flexible attitude to marriage -  without  estates and  inheritances to worry  about - official 'legitimization'  didn't matter that much.

Trial periods of pre-marriage co-habitation were accepted, and many of the poorer sections of society simply couldn't afford to marry. In fact even the medieval Catholic Church recognised 'de-facto marriages' without a wedding ceremony. All  this is is the origin of the modern misnomer of the 'common law' marriage - before it was decided that everything had to be done by the statute book - and officially recorded.

And personally I just had a natural  reaction that my love life was none of the state's business . I think this was a pretty common attitude amongst those of us who grew up post the 1960's social revolution. It was Thatcher's children growing up on Posh & Becks and the  OK magazine wedding phenomenon that revived marriage amongst a younger generation.

This week just  one look at  the vocal pro-marriage lobby is enough to confirm my opinion: Whether it's Cameron promising to bribe us with tax breaks to bring back Tory family values or the exposure of the hateful and  hypocritical  First Minister and First Lady of Northern Ireland - the Robinsons.

I prefer to take Bob Dylan as my guide: ' 'to live outside the law you need to be honest'. I'm grateful for what we have - it seems to work - and bollocks to the inland revenue.

1 comment:

Dave Semple said...

Congratulations to your and Mrs Journeyman on your 25 years together. And congratulations on finding someone equally unconcerned with weddings!