Sunday, 26 February 2017

Marriage Lines

Unmarried opposite-sex partnerships are not some recent innovation. They are this country's historical norm.

Most legal marriages used to last to the grave, if only because they could not be dissolved.

But everyone who knows the first thing about the subject knows that between the Reformation and the late nineteenth century at the absolute earliest, relatively few people in Britain ever were legally married.

They lived together, they had children, women often took men's names. But there was no marriage certificate, and it was quite normal to have several such arrangements over the course of a lifetime.

When people sought the validation of the State (as much local as national) and of its Established Church, then they really did want that validation. And, of course, they could afford to obtain it.

The near-universality of marriage probably did not last 100 years, and it tellingly collapsed under Margaret Thatcher, when the economic order to which it was integral was dismantled.

The introduction of opposite-sex civil partnerships would once again create the space in which the only people who got married were the people who really meant it.

There might not be very many of those on these shores. But there almost, if almost, never have been.

2 comments:

  1. It's amazing how many people don't know this history. They think everyone always used to get married.

    "The introduction of opposite-sex civil partnerships would once again create the space in which the only people who got married were the people who really meant it." Spot on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very kind.

      This one's time is coming.

      Delete