Is There a Place for Practical Marriage? February 6, 2013Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Your Responses Requested!.
Tags: international relationships, marital privilege, marriage for practical reasons
Christina and I are on record saying that neither of us is interested in getting married. However, our Copious Readers know that we are not against marriage per se; rather, this blog is devoted to the deconstruction of marital privilege wherever it exists – in our society, our institutions, and our laws.
Copious Readers – especially those of you, like me, who have never planned to get married – I am curious about your opinions on this question: In what situation would your resistance to marriage crumble?
To speak personally, I have never looked forward to getting married – even as a child, this was not a life event I imagined for myself. I did look forward to falling in love and experiencing intimate relationships – and I have had these experiences, among many others that were equally significant.
But the question I have now stems from my current life outside the U.S., where marital privilege is equally ubiquitous. In my location, marriage is not only connected to cultural expectations, as well as the relatively mundane financial and social benefits, but it is also deeply connected to the ability to live with those you love – to be a part of a relationship that is recognizable according to the eyes of (international) law.
When I lived in the U.S., in a practical sense I thought I would never need to marry in order to enjoy and maintain a relationship. That’s not to say that marital privilege wouldn’t affect my life in profound ways: If I were in a relationship in the U.S., my partner and I would need to take extra steps to ensure that our partnership, and the rights we wanted to give one another (in terms of health care decisions, property, and other benefits), was legally recognized. And although the extra steps would cost us time and money, the important thing is, it would be possible to take those extra steps
But what if you find yourself in a serious relationship that crosses national borders? At what point should the practical benefits of marriage override one’s resistance to the institution? Let me give you two hypothetical examples, based on real situations that we’ve been told about by our friends, to illustrate how important the question is:
Situation 1: Let’s say you have a serious relationship in the States but your partner must move overseas to take a job. You want to join him/her but you can’t find a job in the same place, and you can’t stay there in the long term, unless you have a work visa or are married. In order to stay in the relationship and be near your partner, do you choose to get married?
Situation 2: Let’s say you’re an American living abroad in a country where the mobility of locals is limited due to visa restrictions. You enter a serious relationship with a local, and eventually you find a job in another country, somewhere where your partner cannot travel in the long term without a work visa or – just as in the example above – without being married. Do you choose to marry so that your partner can be with you wherever you go?
Of course, there are other reasons beyond the above that might compel one to give up the ghost and agree to get married… For example, if you are Muslim or are in a partnership with a Muslim, it is considered haram (forbidden) to have sex before marriage. If the relationship is serious and you or your partner take this mandate seriously and you want to have sex, marriage may be the only practical option for you.
Looking forward to your thoughts –