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Love and marriage

By Michael Thompson - posted Monday, 14 December 2015

The debate about same-sex marriage has been the catalyst for some interesting discussion about the very nature of marriage itself. So much of what we take for granted in regard to marriage has never been questioned in such a way as it has in recent times.

The old song says that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage but this may not be so true if we look more closely. There is pressure put on young couples who love each other to get married and it comes from many quarters. Busy-bodying relatives make subtle hints that they should get married. Romance novels, films and TV shows all want their heroes to end up at the altar. This is called 'happy ever after' and anything less is obviously only capable of giving partial happiness. It appears that the best and therefore the most logical outcome of any loving relationship is that it leads to marriage. This is one of the catch-cries for same-sex marriage – they love each other but cannot marry as if one thing must by its very nature lead to the other.

Governments are denying this logical conclusion to same-sex couples and this is seen as discriminatory because the argument suggests that the government should endorse all marriages. Governments have a responsibility to facilitate things that its citizens need. They should provide health care, education, transport and other services. The logic of these responsibilities is rarely questioned.


Governments not only provide essential services but also help to improve the quality of life of its citizens. They expend tax payer funds to facilitate access to the arts and sporting contests. They encourage cultural development and try to improve the comfort and contentment of the population. Although the arguments for these expenditures can be more debatable than fundamental services like health and education they are generally approved of by most people.

Is it logical that governments should facilitate marriage and help people to move on from a loving relationship to a married one? Is this a valid use of its power and a reasonable responsibility to take on?

It is not an essential service to facilitate marriage. No one needs to get married but is there an argument that government involvement in marriage improves the quality of life for people? Administering marriage and maintaining legislation in regard to it has become one of those things that governments have done for a long time but exactly how does it help those who avail themselves or would like to avail themselves of this service?

It could well be that governments are not only wasting time and money in having anything to do with marriage but that they are actually culpable in supporting attitudes and behaviours which are not in the best interests of its citizens.

When we look at the vows people make when they marry one thing stands out and that is that the promises that are made are made forever. We presume they mean what they say and that they take their promises seriously. When someone promises to love another for their whole life they are in fact doing themselves a grave injustice. Every human being is entitled to the best relationships possible and they should remain open to pursuing that right until they die. To promise to live a life where you have given up that right is to do great harm to yourself. It is not a very loving thing to do to yourself.

This is not to suggest that you end a relationship over trivial things and make no effort to compromise. Nor does it suggest that relationships cannot last a lifetime. It simply means that you maintain your freedom to pursue the happiness for which you were born and that you respect the right of your partner to do the same.


When you promise to love the same person until death you are in fact injuring yourself in a very serious way – you are not acting in a loving way toward yourself. Your partner should be duly concerned because you have shown an incapacity for self love and respect that a mature person should have for themselves. If you are so incapable of loving yourself then what capacity do you have to love them?

Making such promises is not logical and to do so is to harm oneself. Governments, at the present, are in the business of aiding and abetting this form of self-harm. It helps perpetrate a value that says you do not have the right to be completely happy. This attitude can lead to a lifetime of misery for many people who think that the pursuit of such happiness in relationships is not meant for them. People who promise to give away what they should never give away are people who need help to improve their sense of self worth. When the government condones marriage by giving their consent with a marriage certificate and by creating marriage legislation it is acting in direct contrast to the best interests of its citizens. If couples want to go ahead and injure themselves by making such promises in a non-government endorsed way then such is their right but governments should be answerable for their part in maintaining a facility which harms their citizens.

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About the Author

Michael Thompson is a freelance writer and blogger interested in social issues. His particular focus is on exposing the emotional manipulation that passes for reasonable and logical debate in many social issues. He believes civilised society changes for the better when it does so for good reasons and not because the loudest, most aggressive or most manipulative of its citizens get their way. His blog can be found at Social Justice Issues.

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