Is marriage a historical relic?

June 20th, 2011 at 12:17 pm by David Farrar

That’s the question I pose over at Stuff.

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34 Responses to “Is marriage a historical relic?”

  1. adze (1,855 comments) says:

    I think it may be becoming an anachronism, marriage has historically been a social/economic/political construct as much as anything. In recent years changes in relational property law has minimized most if not all legal distinctions.
    I do think it is no longer reasonable that live-in partners be entitled to more than what they contributed during the relationship except where children are involved, but that’s another topic.

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  2. Mark (1,356 comments) says:

    It I’d becoming less of a social requirement but will always have it’s place I suspect.

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  3. mavxp (493 comments) says:

    It is a social institution, a formalised relationship status based on exclusivity, and identifies that any children that result from the union are the responsibility of both the mother (obvious) but also the biological father (less obvious in non exclusive/ casual unions). I think for this reason, marriage often benefits women as it is a huge risk to take on children without partner support (financial, as well as emotional). It also provides a man with an important purpose to his life – as a husband (supporter) and father for said family unit. This is the “ideal” scenario for family life.

    However, if ones experiences (through parents, friends, relatives) is that marriage hasn’t worked out, then you may be more cautious about entering into a committed relationship with someone until comfortable that the benefits outweigh the potential costs, that the person you are teaming up with will go the distance when the rubber hits the road. Broken relationships hurt everyone involved, especially kids.

    As the social stigma associated both with being unmarried and also being divorced dissipate (it’s so common now it’s basically a non issue), it becomes easier for people to call it quits rather than work at relationships through the tough times – when job losses, money troubles, family disagreements, health problems all make life difficult. Relationships at such times can be a rock to people or make things worse (particularly if one partner is being more selfish, or communication is poor). A piece of paper and some old photos on the mantlepiece may not change things in peoples mind.

    I think given the ideal nature of marriage it remains a goal for a lot of people, however people are less willing to enter into marriage as before because of the difficulties associated with break-ups. Also “marriage” has become the ceremony/party rather than the legal contract, and is seen as a luxury – an expense that many New Zealanders probably feel they can forgo or put off until they are a bit better off, which may never come around.

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  4. Arthur Dent (37 comments) says:

    Good post mavxp.

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  5. Pete George (22,733 comments) says:

    As per Mark, it’s nowhere near as necessary as it used to be but it’s still a very nice commitment to make in a relationship.

    I “lived together” before my first marriage when it wasn’t the done thing, but getting married seemed a natural progression. Same the second time round.

    Christmas could be seen as a historical relic to many people, same for Easter, same for Anzac Day but we still celebrate all of them in a variety of ways. So I don’t see marriage fading into history, it will remain popular at a reduced level.

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  6. MT_Tinman (2,984 comments) says:

    Surely marriage is simply the formation of a union to assist the couple (or group) to get through life together.

    Any long term coupling could (should?) be considered such meaning, of course, that marriage is alive and well even if the superstitious and legal contract side of things is less common.

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  7. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    As marriage has “declined” (deliberately degraded by social liberals) so has the size and power of the managerial state grown. The so-called decline has been a deliberate policy by those seeking to replace the family as the central pillar of society with the state. Social liberalism, including that advanced by David and the liberal right, always leads to more government power and control.

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  8. RRM (9,420 comments) says:

    I think one of the major turn-offs is that if you decide to get married, people will expect you to “do it properly” which means throwing a party for all your friends and relatives that will cost something in-between the price of a car and a deposit on a house. More & more people just can’t justify the expense of doing it…

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  9. Simon Lyall (100 comments) says:

    The peak in divorces in 1982 is probably due to Family Proceedings Act 1980 coming into force in 1981 which allowed “no fault” divorces.

    http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/divorce-and-separation/3

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  10. Courage Wolf (559 comments) says:

    Marriages are just an excuse for young Christians in their 20s to disregard Jesus’ teachings on materialism and have lavish weddings to show that they’re just like the ‘world’ they so claim to be in but not a part of.

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  11. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    With the decrease in marriage, there has been the mirrored increase in social welfare costs.
    Marriage encouraged a couples to raise their children in a balanced way. Irrespective of what anyone thinks of marriage, the fact is that as its recognition reduces, the costs of unbalanced family units raises and is put on all of us to pay for the problem.

    Its now recognised that pre-school is one way to elliminate the problems of drop dead parents. So weve all got increased ‘freedoms’ in our relationships, but there is a cost to pay – not just in money but in degraded lives.

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  12. Don the Kiwi (1,580 comments) says:

    As marriage declines, so does the moral fibre of our society. Just check the co-reationship.

    At the current rate of decline, if it is not arrested, our society will last about three more generations before being over-run by other cultures that value the family unit as a stabilising influence on society.

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  13. mikenmild (10,611 comments) says:

    Don
    And is this a causal relationship?

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  14. david (2,531 comments) says:

    No excuses for lazy grammar David. Surely it is ” … an historical relic”.

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  15. lastmanstanding (1,200 comments) says:

    Sadly for one that has been very happily married for 37 years I have witnessed the reduction of marriages has co related to the increase in social dysfunction.

    The days when Mum was at home and looked after the house and was there when the kids came home from school were also the days of fewer crimes fewer beaten and murdered kids and wives.

    The liberals can bang on but those are the facts The traditional family unit was and still does contribute much more to society than any other form

    And yes the STATE in the name of the Socialist Party set out to destroy the traditional family unit because it favoured other models and also sought control.

    The traditional family unit could run itself with little or no Gumint interference. the new model requires huge interventions and huge costs WFF CYPS etc etc all seeking to take the place of Mum and Dad in the old structure.

    And failing time and again.

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  16. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Beware Courage Wolf, that hatred is eating you up inside.

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  17. EverlastingFire (291 comments) says:

    Being single with a kid and on the dpb is the way of the future for NZ…

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  18. mikenmild (10,611 comments) says:

    Wow, lastmanstanding, how has ‘the Scoialist Party’ (never in power in NZ) set out to destroy the family unit? I was under the impression that the institution of marriage has changed during a period of great economic and social change. I wasn’t aware that any government had the power to destroy the traditional family unit, with the possible exception of the impact of government policy on the Maori traditinal family unit, the whanau, in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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  19. lastmanstanding (1,200 comments) says:

    For Socialist Party read Labour Party. How did they do it? By taking away the tax allowance for couples where dad worked and MUm stayed home and instituting policy settings that required wives to go out to work to balance the family budget.

    How many working woman really want to work and would rather be home. How the hell do they manage to run a household and hold dwon a fulltime job. they are Superwoman and I take my hat off to them. But it should have to be like that. But it is becuase the Socialists and the Lesbians sought and got social change so wimmin had to go to work.

    And thats why we have the bloody problems now but because many have their eyes and ears painted in they dont see or hear the cause of the problems. Morons all.

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  20. Courage Wolf (559 comments) says:

    krazykiwi (6,959) Says:
    June 20th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Beware Courage Wolf, that hatred is eating you up inside.

    Beware krazykiwi – that belief in fairytales and myths is rotting your brain.

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  21. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Interesting that today’s posts cover the apparent desirability of advocacy for kids (c.f. Ministry of Children) alongside a tacit suggestion that marriage is a historical relic. While some idiots will oppose marriage on the flawed logic that supporting it could be interpreted as support for traditional religious or political values, the evidence points to a strong, committed mother+father team as the best environment for raising kids. Given that marriage is supposed to be a commitment for life, perhaps the focus should be on restoring the institution for the benefit of our future citizens… rather than suggesting its become irrelevant on account of levels of commitment that an increasing number of people are unwilling to sign up to.

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  22. mikenmild (10,611 comments) says:

    Ok, so when did the Labour Party require wives to go out to work?

    Did any of those wives actually want to go out to work?

    Why should women who work be required to run the household? Can’t the men help them at all?

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  23. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Last man Standing says:

    The traditional family unit could run itself with little or no Gumint interference. the new model requires huge interventions and huge costs WFF CYPS etc etc all seeking to take the place of Mum and Dad in the old structure.

    I think that is just an outstanding comment,

    And besides every chick in the world wants to be married, they don’t have to give up any sovereignty they just want to be asked , I know my wife is bloody lucky to have me……….

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  24. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    Marriages are just an excuse for young Christians in their 20s to disregard Jesus’ teachings on materialism and have lavish weddings to show that they’re just like the ‘world’ they so claim to be in but not a part of.

    Makes one wonder why the Homo’s are so keen on the tradition then.

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  25. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Shunda

    These ” Homo’s “of which you speak are they a governemnt department, citizens of new country or a relgion.? I was just wondering given the capitalization

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  26. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    Yes.

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  27. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Ah, citizens of the planet Hom

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  28. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    @pauleastbay – my wife puts up with me despite my array of glaring faults. I’m bloody lucky to have her..!

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  29. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    KK, never admit fault never, you do it once and you open a whole can of worms…

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  30. Mick Mac (1,091 comments) says:

    Great question DPF.
    I think it would matter as in their heart of hearts people know that marriage is the best option for kids, they just lack the guts to take a stand.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2004878/Unmarried-parents-6-times-likely-split-time-child-5.html

    It stands to reason that we all want the best for kids and the reality is, first prize is that kids need their dad and mum loving each other and them in a family together.
    Anything else isn’t first prize and I’m sorry if that isn’t you or wasn’t yours but that doesn’t change what is first prize for kids.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/16/dad-mom-in-home-is-essential-americans-say/

    Why does marriage matter? because marriage isn’t just a bit of paper, if it were, everyone would do it and last in it too.
    Sorry if that comes across a bit judgmental I’m just trying to be brief and to the point.

    My own parents divorced when I was 12 and my own marriage has been 26yrs, it has had it’s ups and downs, but at the end of the day, til death us do part is what we said and we have worked on our relatuionship and our love has grown and changed into something fuller and different than when we started. That means I’ve had to examine myself and sos the wife and we have had to work at being a marriage. sadly that’s not the way it is now. everythings me me me.
    Society has suffered and now we seem to be breeding feral kids from feral kids as each generation goes further down the tubes.

    Don’t believe me, look at the top of the tree, Politicians (remember they are representative of us) and they are wallys almost to a man, lack honour and guts to, do the right thing, stand for truth. NAh! they are representative of us, as they are so are we.
    We tut tut and tsk tsk but we vote for them instead of saying onyabike you’re not good enough and when we get a principled one they get slagged off.

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  31. DRBASS (10 comments) says:

    Interestingly marriage is still far more successful than defacto relationships. According to the NZIER report on the cost of marriage breakdown a couple of years ago, marriage was still six times more likely to succeed than de facto relationships… maybe it’s not just a piece of paper?

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  32. Clint Heine (1,563 comments) says:

    Courage Wolf… now now, I am not at all religious, nor is my wife. We both think god is a myth and a joke. But we still got married because we are quite fond of each other :)

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  33. Angus (536 comments) says:

    You’re not married are you Clint?

    FWIW, I always assumed that you were a homosexual (just like your parents did too)

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  34. Clint Heine (1,563 comments) says:

    Oh Angus. Wherever you get your drugs from make sure you share them with us all.

    How is your relationship with Handgelina Jolie going? Or was it Palmela Handerson?

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