Some Are More Equal Than Others

I’ve been watching with interest the debate on ‘equal marriage’.

The discussion seems to have largely swung between rather hysterical arguments against, and the pro-camp calling everyone who disagrees with them a bigot. I can’t help but feel that the issue is largely a result of the blurring in this country of the line between religious marriage (whose definition belongs surely to the religion in question) and legal marriage which is sanctioned by the state and imposes legal responsibilities on the people involved.

The irony to me is that in many cases marriage imposes a cost on the parties involved because it enforces a financial dependence that means that marriage is no longer an economically sensible thing to do. Long gone are the days of the ‘married man’s tax allowance’!  However, generously, the government is prepared to give those same disadvantages if you are civilly partnered or even just living together ‘as if you are married’!

Yet despite that, many people still choose to be married (myself included) and it is good to think that people will be able to marry whoever they please regardless of gender.

Still, as part of the debate, one of the against arguments proposed was that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy. The argument being that this redefinition would lead to others, and so on…

For a start, this isn’t the first change to the laws on marriage and it would be unreasonable to think it will be the last. But more importantly, if it did lead to polygamy, would that be such a bad thing? Would multiple, committed, consensual relationships (all mutually paying taxes) really be a bad thing?

Now that really would be equal marriage.

Celebrating (Polyamorous) Marriage

This is one of those times when I came across a post and thought “yes, that!”. This one is about what marriage means when you are polyamorous.

Marriage has been on my mind at the moment as Perrin and I recently celebrated another wedding anniversary.

When he and I got married we were expecting to be monogamous, so marriage was an uncomplicated commitment. However one of the advantages of having a civil wedding was that we had to choose our own vows. This meant we discussed whether we wanted sexual fidelity to be one of them. In the end we didn’t promise it, because the vows we chose expressed our desire to love and support each other in far less specific terms.

Having discussed and renegotiated, as all married couples do on many subjects (even if not always sexual ones), we now find ourselves polyamorous. However my love for Perrin and my commitment to our relationship remain. He is someone I want to be a part of my life until I am old and grey (a day sadly coming rapidly ever closer).

However this doesn’t necessarily preclude me being committed to someone else as well. While legal marriage is clearly not an option, bigamy being ever so slightly illegal in this country, marriage is about more than a legal status. It is about standing up to declare your feelings, promising commitment, about believing in forever. Promises made together do not need legal sanctity to be meaningful. I still remember the moment I realised I felt committed to Perrin and it was a moment well in advance of our wedding day.

Our recent wedding anniversary was very special in many ways. Over a long weekend Perrin and I shared many wonderful moments together, just the two of us, but our anniversary dinner was a different affair. Perrin, Mat and I shared a meal together; we toasted the anniversary, together, as a poly family of which our marriage is a part.
This is my life; married, polyamorous and very, very, happy.

Complete or Finished

So somebody tweeted this morning:

Difference between complete and finished? If you’ve a beautiful girlfriend life is complete, wife finds out, you’re finished.

If I had been strictly monogamous my response would probably have been ‘if your wife is the beautiful girlfriend then you’re complete’. With my rather more polyamorous head on I went for ‘if your wife is involved too then you’re complete’. But either way, I felt it necessary to question that humour.

While at a word play level I can appreciate the funny side of this joke, at another it roused a level of annoyance within me for that typical casting of the wife as the bad guy.

Too often, I see the wife cast as a monster, lurking in the shadows, preventing the ‘poor’ husband from enjoying himself. And when a husband is portrayed as being able to have fun it is only by defiantly ‘disobeying’ her. As if the couple is incapable of reaching an adult agreement together, or being honest, and instead behave in a parent/child manner (and I don’t mean in a role play sense).

The only figure more terrible than the wife, is of course, her mother!

Somehow the beautiful loving girlfriend, becomes resented when she becomes a wife.

But why should it be so. Of course some of this is portrayed in jokes like the one mentioned, but often those stereotypes are replayed and reinforced by men talking about their own wives. Are so many people unhappily married that they would denigrate their partner publicly that way. I can’t help but wonder, do the wives know how their husband talks about them?

Sometimes I dislike being described as a wife, precisely because I am afraid that the listener will hear those stereotypes, rather than the cherished person that being Perrin’s wife means I am.

I wonder, do so few people have an adult relationship with their partner, or are they all really so embarrassed to admit that it is a partnership that they have to hide their feelings behind insults.

Either way, if you love your wife, if she is your love, and your lover and your friend, as she should be, stand up for her today. Tell someone how special she is. Make her the princess and not the monster.

And yes, I know the same is sometimes true in reverse, it’s not defensible either way.