Feb 052009
 

Via that mine of information, Tim Worstall, this agony question in the Guardian: ‘Why wouldn’t my partner marry me?’

Tim highlights the questioner’s final, desperate enquiry (‘Why will a man sleep with a woman, when he won’t marry her or tell her he loves her?’) and wonders how any adult woman can ask that in all seriousness.

He’s right.

Genius-level IQ is hardly required to come to the conclusion that sex is quite different from love/marriage. For one thing, sex isn’t supposed to last the rest of your life. (Thank goodness; we’d never get anything done.) For another, love at least has never been a prerequisite for sex, nor, as in this case, a postrequisite. Generally, and contrary to popular feminine belief, if a man doesn’t tell a woman he loves her, it’s probably because he doesn’t. It’s not commitment-phobia; it’s not fear of emotional vulnerability. He’s just not in love. (This argument is true for marriage, too, I reckon.)

What the missive-writing woman really wants to know, I imagine, is ‘Why does this man want to spend years of his life cultivating a relationship with me if he doesn’t intend to formalise it?’

There are two really obvious answers to that. First, in this day and age, ‘formalising a relationship’ (i.e. getting married) is a religio-social and legal concept that has no actual bearing on how the participants feel about one another, as divorce rates show. If one is happy in the relationship and confident of the partner’s devotion and fidelity, what is the need for formal marriage?

And if one is not happy in the relationship, or confident in the partner’s devotion and fidelity, why the desire to marry to such a person in the first place?

(I’m aware that if you are particularly religious, or you wish to enjoy the fiscal protection marriage brings, that argument is irrelevant. Fair enough.)

The other likely reason this poor woman’s boyfriend is in no great hurry to marry her is because he already enjoys the benefits of marriage without any of the hassle or responsibility. They lived together; they travelled together; they probably shared their incomes; they obviously slept together. Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

  2 Responses to “Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?”

  1. As the mighty Doug Stanhope said:

    If marriage didn’t exist, would you invent it? Would you really say: “Hey baby, what we’ve got between us is so hot we need to get the government involved”?

  2. Ha! A good point.

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