RSS Feed

Tag Archives: partners

An epistle on shacking up

Posted on

Why is it, when the past few decades have seen so much substantial social reform, that marriage and defacto relationships remain temptingly simple to enter into, yet present us with legal minefields to exit?  

Let me pursue the courageous idea that the entry requirements should be tightened.  

I bring some small amount of experience to the debate having, 40 years ago, been lured hook line and sinker into a period of unholy matrimony which eventually required expensive legal representation and court determinations to get escape from.

Yet today, anyone over the age of 18 is still permitted to shack up, then accidentally or deliberately procreate, with as much forward planning as would apply to making a selection from the menu at KFC.

The only prerequisite is some cursory determination that the potential partner complies with at least one misty fairy tale fantasy, and/or has been rendered at least temporarily desirable when viewed through the blurry lens of either alcoholic intoxication, post-coital bliss, or both.

Not much prior thought is given to the 50% probability of the union failing, which then legally requires splitting all possessions including the cat and budgerigar down the middle, regardless of whether one partner has been an unproductive, obnoxious, conniving and bludging slob who deserved nothing.

We often do more logical clear-thinking research before buying a used car, by checking it's mileage, fuel consumption, upholstery condition, and diligently interrogating one or several prior owners about the vehicle's foibles and handling behaviour on the road.

There has to be a more practical partnership model available than that currently in use, especially for those bringing children into the world.

A partnership policy that requires a greater investment and commitment by both partners than simply muttering a poorly rehearsed  "I do" before a celebrant.
One which requires more patience, counselling, and mandatory jumping over an assortment of personal-relationship skill hurdles.
Perhaps then we could have a greater percentage of enduring relationships where children could look forward to having more than one parent in attendance.

I am almost tempted to recommend New Guinea's "bride price" system, where any instant desire to cohabitat is customarily prevented by the requirement for the man to firstly raise sufficient cash and pigs to afford the transaction with the bride's family.

Having initially invested so much livestock and hard currency in the partnership, Mr Pangu is then less likely to run away from Mrs Pangu with the excuse that she gained ten pounds in weight after childbirth and accordingly was "no longer the girl that I married".
When the temptress down the road offers him the prospect of more exciting fringe benefits, he will think twice about accepting them, because ongoing use of those benefits will automatically require him to raise another 20 pigs along with accompanying loot.
He will conclude that, in the long run, some things in life are probably just not worth the extra farming effort. 
Mrs Pangu is also adequately deterred from getting into mischief because then her extended family will be obliged to return all the original goodies.

When I seek election as the world's first less-than-benevolent dictator I might adopt as part of my electoral platform the following ancient custom in an attempt to make youngsters think twice before entering into partnership commitments.

This is from "The Last Unknown" by Gavin Souter, concerning
explorer Dr. Sterling's first contact with the Nogullo pygmy tribe
in New Guinea in 1926.

     "The Nogollos were polygamous but there was a shortage of
     women and few men could afford more than one bride price.
     Marriage was not easy.  The bridegroom was expected not only
     to pay for the bride, but also to undergo an hour-long ordeal
     during which he did his best to dodge arrows fired at him by the
     bride's male relations.  As part of the subsequent marriage
     ceremony he was required to chop off one of the bride's fingers
     with a stone axe."

Please excuse me for rushing off like this in the middle of our little discussion, but I am expecting a phone call from the Womens Electoral Lobby, confirming their endorsement of me as their preferred dictatorial candidate.


Read and post comments | Send to a friend