Tuesday, May 25, 2010

$30,000 to announce that you already live together?

Just read this on Sam Brett's Blog. The quote below is in the comments section of the Blog, by a guy called Steve. It's worth reading:
Honestly? I think a lot of women just want to have a "wedding"; a day for the world to truly revolve around them. I see this all the time. It just seems to me that in my gen (gen Y) the girls have all bought the fairy tale package hook line and sinker. Even smarter women.

I have a mate who's getting married soon, and although he technically asked her, she more or less coached him into the position. She's a modern, capable and smart progressive woman, but she's totally bought all the wedding crap and wants to have this big fancy do.

It all sounds pretty stupid to me... the two have been living together for 6 years, so the wedding really just seems like an overblown birthday party with an expensive fancy-dress theme. Think about it - they're about to spend about 30K to basically announce they're going to be together. Well... we kinda already knew that.

And while I appreciate the sentiment, a smart couple who were confident in the depth of their love for each other would have just gone to the registry and then put that money on a house.
Harsh? But Fair on modern marriage?

I'm marrying young people here at York Street all the time. I like being involved in their lives. More couples are living together than are not. The third paragraph in the comment above is what gets me: the couple have been living together for 6 years, and then they decide to get married in a $30,000 party. Often, the groom will leave their home the night before getting married, to almost simulate what used to happen! That does seem odd. I'm very happy that couples get married, but we have things upside down now.

In the Bible, the movement is: Commit covenantally (vows), then commit domestically and sexually (the last two being in the one act of 'leaving mother and father' - Genesis 2:24).

But today, its reversed: Couples commit sexually, then domestically, then covenantally (if at all).

Does any of this ring true? You got thoughts on modern marriage?

Pic on Flickr by Janelle Madalone.


Jo N Jules said...

Totally understand and yet don't at the same time. I have to admit that I wonder if I should even bother going to weddings like that, particularly if I am asked to be committed to them as a family as I am unsure if they realise what they are doing. Harsh, yes.

Just got back from a fantastic wedding of two people who, both Christian and committed to the idea of marriage as God's thing and though engaged quickly, have decided that instead of living together to get married and make it work. I'll commit to that!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like the 6-year-long couple knew with tested certainty what they were doing and it was possible for their (kinder) friends to celebrate their relationship, knowing that they had already worked through much together. I did it your biblical way around and it was stupid. I would be so worried if my children got married without living together. And 30K seems universally silly to me, no matter which way around.

Justin said...

Hi Anon. Thanks for stopping by. Do I know you? Email me if you want to. I'm not a big fan of anonymity on the Internet. But I understand if you want to remain so.

it was possible for their (kinder) friends to celebrate their relationship

Yes, the comment did seem somewhat unkind by STeve. There seemed to be some hurt in Steve's comment, but I can't really know that for sure. Just a guess.

I did it your biblical way around and it was stupid.

Would you be willing to say why it was stupid? Presume it has something to do with this line: 'they worked through much together'. But how do you know for you, that it was the biblical way that made things 'stupid'. I know people that have moved in together, and have been ripped apart emotionally and domestically even without the covenant of marriage. They never got married, and things were still tough.

How did you know that it was the biblical way that made it stupid?

Justin said...

Someone on FB said:

There is something different about getting married even when you've been living together for years, isn't there?

My answer: I think so - - which tells you the power of covenant! Almost all the couples who get married here tell me how much they enjoy 'married life', even if they've shared home, bank accounts and even had kids! Marriage isn't just a piece of paper, and we all know it.

Laura said...

Hey Justin, I'm not married so am looking at this from the supporter perspective rather than the couple perspective.
I think there's two things:

1.is the event big enough to justify the expense?

2.The best way to get to the promise/covenant.

1. a big party over what? over a big promise - regardless of the way around it has come its still a life long promise that's a big deal. Marriage has a different set of expectations than just living together particularly commitment. I wouldn't have a spare 30K but if you've got it why not use it to celebrate more than just a continuation of the norm but a commitment to a life long promise. But sure, you don't have to measure the value of the promise by the amount of money you spend celebrating it.

2.'Working stuff out before hand', 'living together to see how things go' isn't the same as actually taking the plunge and getting hitched.
Is it impossible to work it out without living together? I've seen enough couples 'work it out' enough to live out the promise without cohabiting before the promise to believe its possible.

Even in Steve's original post he still sees some value in 'going down to the registry office' and making it official, whether you're living together or not before you promise, there is something significantly different about making public covenants.

Benjamin Ady said...

My only response is: Heck, if you can find 30,000 dollars to spend on a party celebrating your connection to your favorite person, then ROCK ON!

andrew said...

Any excuse for a party I say. party to celebrate deciding to commit, party to celebrate doing it, party to celebrate having done it for 6 years. $30,000 is a big party. and i like a big party. i'd rather you invite me to a party than buy yourself another car.

but i don't think that's really your question. the title of your post is about the money; the question you pose is about the covenant; i think it's about the love.

if you read the bible looking for rules you'll find lots of rules about when to commit, and how, and what to burn while you do it. if you read it looking for relationship you'll find lots of relationships where it just didn't work out that way.

i wanna know if Steve enjoyed his friend's wedding - was it a celebration of love, commitment, community, and the friendships of years; or did he feel trapped inside six hours of somebody's big boast about how rich and happy they were.

and that's the longest blog comment i've written for a long time. thanks justin

Mandy said...

I think it is sad that so many people to live together before getting married. Don't they realize they are practicing being married, but without the good bits??
How wonderful it is to know that the person I am living with has promised to be with me till death parts us.
It feels to me to much like "try before you buy and if you don't like it you can return it with no stings attached".... too bad there are emotional strings, even if there aren't legal ones.

Cameron and Alex Grey Jones said...

You might be interested in this link noticing that young people are discouraged from getting married too young - and that they're listening to that - but are not delaying sex, children etc...

Rupert said...

Mandy, what 'good bits' are they missing out on?

I think the level of commitment people enter into when choosing to live together is just as real as for those who choose marriage.

It is not 'try before you buy', that is what occurs when people have sex before cohabitation or marriage.

The whole concept of marriage was predicated on protecting property and wealth. Only the wealthy originally married. As it flowed down to the 'lower orders' the only object of ownership or property was the woman.

Justin said...

@rupert - got some sources for us on this? That marriage is only about property and then about ownership of women. Would love to read this.

What they are missing out on it the power of covenant that put the sexual and domestic life within the framework of trust, rather than experiment. That is not to say that a couple can't covenant on their own, and then seek to keep that covenant. And many do. That is how they begin their cohabitation. But even those who co-habitate mostly admit that they are seeing if the relationship works, before committing to marriage. That is, by their own admition, it is 'try before you buy'.

Not everyone who cohabits is doing this. But surely most are testing to see if the relationship can handle a bit of domestic heat. Right?

Rupert said...

Hi Justin, on marriage:

Most ancient societies needed a secure environment for the perpetuation of the species,a system of rules to handle the granting of property rights, and the protection of bloodlines. The institution of marriage handled these needs - http://marriage.about.com/cs/generalhistory/a/marriagehistory.htm

When we look at the marriage customs of our ancestors, we discover several striking facts. For example, for the most of Western history, marriage was not a mere personal matter concerning only husband and wife, but rather the business of their two families which brought them together. Most marriages, therefore, were arranged. Moreover, the wife usually had much fewer rights than her husband and was expected to be subservient to him. To a considerable extent, marriage was also an economic arrangement. There was little room for romantic love, and even simple affection was not considered essential. Procreation and cooperation were the main marital duties. - http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/ATLAS_EN/html/history_of_marriage_in_western.html

Tracing matrimony’s path from ancient times (when some cultures lacked a word for "love" and the majority of pairings were attempts to seize land or family names) - In ancient Rome, no distinction was made between cohabitation and marriage; during the Middle Ages, marriage was regarded less as a bond of love than as a " 'career' decision"; in the Victorian era, the increasingly important idea of true love "undermined the gender hierarchy of the home" (in the past, men—rulers of the household—were encouraged to punish insufficiently obedient wives). Coontz explains marriage as a way of ensuring a domestic labor force, as a political tool and as a flexible reflection of changing social standards and desires. - http://www.amazon.com/Marriage-History-Obedience-Intimacy-Conquered/dp/B000EUKR2C

Early marriage was borne of ancient societies' need to secure a safe environment in which to breed, handle the granting of property rights, and protect bloodlines - http://uktv.co.uk/yesterday/item/aid/581541

and even wikipedia:

One of the oldest known and recorded marriage laws is discerned from Hammurabi's Code, enacted in ancient Mesopotamia (widely considered as the cradle of civilization). Various cultures have had their own theories on the origin of marriage. One example may lie in a man's need for assurance as to paternity of his children. He might therefore be willing to pay a bride price or provide for a woman in exchange for exclusive sexual access.[15] Legitimacy is the consequence of this transaction rather than its motivation. In Comanche society, married women work harder, lose sexual freedom, and do not seem to obtain any benefit from marriage.[16] But nubile women are a source of jealousy and strife in the tribe, so they are given little choice other than to get married. "In almost all societies, access to women is institutionalized in some way so as to moderate the intensity of this competition." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage

I think a covenant in the way you speak of it is a rather late arrival to the table.

Bron said...

I've heard that people who live together first and then get married are more likely to separate afterwards, rather than those who marry first and then live together. I wonder if that's true?

I've been happily married for nine years now and we have a 10 month old baby boy. I have friends who lived together. It's hard to persuade them the value of marriage when you can see that they are living a "married" life, to some extent, by living together. How do we respond to this?

Tim G said...

Are you telling me (or not telling me as the case may be) that it's all over?
No more blogs?

My daily routine has been off for over a month!

Tom.Claire said...

Hi, my name's claire. Saw this blog as a "frequently read" blog of a friend's blog and i thought i'd have a look!

I've heard that couples who live together before they marry are 70% more likely to be divorced that couples who don't cohabitate.

I think one of the reasons this is is because in essence they're trying to have a "trial marriage" to see if they can work things through, to see if they can cope with living together. Of course the problem is you can't have a trial marriage- because the essence of marriage is that it's permanent.

Someone else point out too, that while if you cohabitate there aren't the same legal strings that make it difficult to separate- but you still have emotional strings, and the complexity of breaking of a de facto relationship is greater than just breaking up- you're suddenly homeless too, with a heap of common household stuff that you either have to sell and split the cash, or divide up equally. It isn't the "no strings attached, ill try before i buy" deal that it's made out to be.

I think perhaps the "best bits" that were spoken about could be the knowledge that your spouse will be with you for life, they're going to be with you no matter what happens to you, whereas potentially part of the reason someone is cohabitating with their spouse rather than wanting to marry is the opposite- they don't want to be tied down to the person for better or worse.

Im currently engaged, and as a Christian I do not live with my fiance. We have chosen to make the promise first before we commit domestically and sexually, as was mentioned earlier. We've worked out a number of issues without living together, many of which have been a cause of a lot of heartache. I have no doubt we'll face more issues as we get married, but we'll be committed to working it out, because we are committed to the promises we will make.

Justin said...

Thanks Claire. Happy to have you over on my blog. God bless you as you get married. I think your wisdom in God will serve you well.

Alex Horton said...

A lot of people who are married these days are still cohabitating (living in sin) in the eyes of God because they haven't truly made a godly marriage covenant in their hearts: what Paul talks about in Ephesians. A lot of times modern marriage is simply a business arrangement.