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Is There a Place for Practical Marriage? February 6, 2013

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Your Responses Requested!.
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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 –



1. clofa - February 6, 2013

The idea of marriage never made any sense to me (neither did weddings!) but I love children and I’ve always contemplated the idea of adopting a child one day, ever since I was a kid myself (my favorite “hobby” as a teenager was to babysit. However, in order to have a child in Lebanon (biological or adopted), you have to be married (otherwise, you’d bring shame and a miserable life to that child). So I contemplated the idea of a sham marriage in order to do that “when I grow up.” Till now though, I’m still not ready to raise a child and I’m so repulsed by the idea of having to marry (even if it’s make-belief) that I’m not too keen on the idea in reality… I just dream of the possibility.

Onely - February 8, 2013

Clofa, that’s a really good point. Maybe it’s time to move to the States, where having a child by choice (and while single) is definitely possible and would not ruin the child’s life. Or maybe it’s time to change Lebanon (yeah, I know that’s probably impossible at least in the immediate future… *sigh*).

2. silvergirl3 - February 6, 2013

My cousin (here in Canada) married his partner who is from Mexico in order to make his immigration to Canada easier. He’s said that the marriage was more for those practical reasons. It still took a couple years for them to be able to live together in Canada. I’m not sure if that had to do with the fact that it was a same-sex marriage or not. So even practical marriages don’t always provide the benefits one would expect.

Onely - February 8, 2013

Ah, good point. Again another reminder about why marriage itself as an institution poses such problems…

3. Crystal - February 7, 2013

Check out the Elizabeth Gilbert book “Committed”. Excellent! And bridges the two questions you posed directly. In the end, they had to marry to be with one another.

Onely - February 8, 2013

Thanks Crystal! Will definitely check it out…

4. Private - February 8, 2013

As we age, marriage becomes more impractical. Both people may have purchased homes they love, they’ve established careers in specific locations, they’ve got savings/pension/property to be concerned about in case of a divorce… throw in a cross-border aspect (even Canada/U.S.) and you lose the option of living together before marriage, you have to go through immigration issues/fees, and one partner basically has to burn down their life… selling property, possibly re-inventing their career, sorting out health care options, public pensions, etc… Essentially, marriage is for rootless young people.

5. Alan - February 8, 2013

If money was the greatest concern in my life I’d marry. The financial advantages that have been detailed on this blog previously would provide a strong incentive to anyone who values wealth overall.

But wealth isn’t my greatest concern. Apart from that I can’t think of any reason

6. b2c2 - February 12, 2013

The Supreme Court said that Marital Privilege foster the harmony and sanctity of the marriage relationship. Marital Privilege is more important attorney, doctor or religous.

7. 18650行動電源 - June 23, 2013

I merely could not depart your web website prior to suggesting that I very enjoyed the standard information a person offer for your visitors? Is gonna be back often to investigate cross-check new posts.

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