If some of you noticed the new name and wondered if I was rebranding (AGAIN) just for the hell of it, the answer is NO. I got married. Again. For the third time. I am not gonna tempt Fate by saying any more.
But honestly, I am dubious about marriage. I have been since my first marriage ended. Don’t get me wrong; I believe in love and commitment. 110%.
But that does not require a piece of paper, sanctioned by the government or a religious institution. And as those of you who have read stories such as my Ægir’s trilogies know, I don’t even believe it needs to be just between two people.
So, why did I do it again this week?
Because our governments and society still unfairly favor marriage between two people as the only valid form of commitment.
I am pleased and happy that many governments and societies, and some religions, have in my lifetime advanced to the point that marriage and commitment are no longer seen as just between a man and a woman. That is huge progress. And not to be dismissed.
But it saddens me that millions or billions of people in committed, long-term partnerships do not have the same rights as that piece of paper gave us. And it saddens me more that those in non-monogamous relationships are so far from getting those rights.
What am I talking about? Simple things like:
- The ability to make medical decisions for one another.
- The right to inherit property virtually tax-free.
- Other tax advantages.
- The right to transfer money (larger sums) between you without penalties or taxes.
- Even the right to be legally involved with the other person’s children.
- Worst of all, in international relationships, even the ability to live together as a couple in the same country.
Think about it, those are some very basic human rights that are being denied people based upon a very old and frankly misogynistic tradition.
Before we, humans, began to settle and farm or domesticate animals, when we lived in bands of hunters and gatherers, evidence suggests that societies were more egalitarian and that women had many more rights to choose their mates. In fact, the evidence is pretty clear, that most worshipped a fertility goddess.
(The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler is just one of many books that offer that evidence. Check out my review of it on @Medium. Merlin Stone’s When God Was a Woman is another good one. And for the scientific among you, anything by Marija Gimbutas. Yes, I have studies this shit seriously.)
Then five thousand years ago or so, a race of violent, misogynistic, and hubristic men came out of the arid mountains and began to conquer much of Europe and the Middle East. Civilization died, as did the goddess who fostered it. And with her went the right of women to their own bodies. And true equality between the sexes. We have been fighting ever since to regain that.
Women, and most men too, were enslaved to produce and reproduce for the benefit of a few wealthy. And we still are.
But women especially lost their rights to choose their mates, to have many sexual freedoms, and their virginities were sold to the highest bidder. It was called marriage but was a prison for many women. That is the truth.
And only in the past two hundred years has love had anything to do with that institution. And sadly still does not in much of the world.
Do you know that in the multi-cultural United Kingdom in which we live, part of the application process is to interview both parties separates, including the question, ‘are you entering this marriage of your own free will?’ Unfortunately, many who are not would not have the courage to speak up, even in that situation. Sadder still is that some do not even recognize the ‘forced’ nature of their marriages; it is just their cultures. Yes, we still have a long way to go, baby.
So, is it any wonder that I have such mixed feelings about the institution of marriage itself?
In fact, when this journey with Alan began we had no intention of getting married. He understood and agreed with much of what I just said. But government won out in the end for practical reasons.
From the moment that I gave up our old lives in London, Alan had protected me and @PanKwake by naming me as the sole-beneficiary on his life insurance policy at work. I don’t particularly like adulting or money, and certainly never wanted him to think I loved him for it, so I was not even aware of that until a year or so into our relationship.
I had been talking with a couple of other single moms about what would happen to our children if… And it got me to thinking. Alan and I went to a solicitor and wrote a will that would protect my daughter in that situation, but it was also when I learned how much he cared for us.
But when he retired at the first of the year, that no longer applied. We were unprotected and vulnerable if anything happened to him. And yes, he could have written a will that left everything to me. But then I would have been liable for inheritance tax…possibly in two countries. Little would have been left to care for me and @PanKwake.
That is one penalty governments place on non-traditional couples. But it is the least of them. When I lived in London, I had a friend who had lived with his partner for decades but never married. She was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, so they got married.
But social services and her family intervened. They said that the marriage was not valid because of her illness. They took her from the home they had shared for years and put her in a care facility. They even restricted his visitation to her. When she died, her family that she had had nothing to do with took everything, including things that were his. Need I say, the man was an emotional wreck?
If the inheritance tax penalties were our initial motivation for marriage, it was #coronavirus that spurred us to move the wedding up from our intended May 2020 date. Alan is high-risk due to asthma. It was important to us both that it be me who had the right to make important medical decisions, not his parents who live hours away and are high-risk themselves.
So, we called the registrar’s office and asked if we could move it forward. We did that last week as Alan tracked what was happening in Italy. Over the weekend, we discussed it more and decided to call again on Monday and ask for the earliest available date. I know that some of our friends are terribly disappointed by the way things have turned out, and so are we.
Ironically, the friends who were available to serve as our witness are our reverse twins. He is a #creator #homemaker and she the primary breadwinner. They have gone to great lengths to negate as many of those ‘marriage’ penalties as possible. And since her estate would not be as much, he would not be as hard hit with inheritance taxes. They both have medical and legal powers of attorney. And just as importantly, they have spoken with their families and made their wishes known. But even they are well aware of the fact that their situation is not secure…and would and do reconsider it, especially looking at tax issues.
I asked the #WritingCommunity this week how they felt about the institution of marriage and most were still very much in favor of it. And yes, things are changing, if perhaps too slowly. The rights of gay couples to get married is a huge thing.
But it does not go far enough. We as societies need to re-evaluate this institution. We need to shore up the legal rights of those like my friends, and like Alan and I were. At lunch yesterday, I asked if he felt married, and he smiled yes. But as I told him, I have felt married, if not from the beginning of our relationship then certainly when we moved into @HomeCrazzyHome. The fact that he would buy a house where we could live as a family when he already owned his other one…for us…spoke louder than any piece of paper ever could.
So, yes, I am incredibly proud and pleased to announce that I am Mrs. Alan Cox. And yes, this #Feminist ~Homemaker has no problem being addressed like that. Because it was my choice. He was my choice. And ultimately, so too was marriage. Perhaps one that government and society nudged or strong-armed us into.
But I was and am committed to this man. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health. Even that forsaking all others thing was a choice, both of us have been in poly relationships before. We chose monogamy.
And as traditional as we have chosen to live, ours at its core is a relationship of equals. Marriage like everything else is what you make it. And we choose to make this one on our terms.
And hopefully one day this world will extend those same rights to those whose love does not require a piece of paper. And to the poly, not as another form of misogyny or enslavement of women, but as a recognition that love is infinite and not always restricted to just two people. I hope I live to see that day.
Because after all,