Tag Archives | marriage

Gay marriage is a red herring – the state has no place in matters of the heart

Gay marriage vs traditional marriageEver since I got married, I’ve felt like I have to justify it. Why, in this day and age, would anyone do such an outmoded, unnecessary thing?

Well, apart from the romance of making a commitment to one person, forever, I had practical concerns too. I kept waking up at 4am, thinking that there was nothing to link us together if something happened. I was at university at the time, and feeling every inch of the distance between us. I wanted that piece of paper to say: this is my next of kin. We have chosen each other. 

Until extraordinarily recently, we denied gay couples the right to make this simple arrangement. And now, although we have Civil Partnerships, the whole field is a morass of inequality and judgement. If you’re heterosexual, you can marry but not choose the cut-down option of a CP (which, on balance, I think I would chosen); and if you’re in a same-sex couple, there’s a little bit of ceremony held back from you, which seems designed to point out that you’re not quite legit in the eyes of society.

This is not just a matter of rights, though. The tone of the debate, on both sides, shows the depth of prejudice that still exists. I am no more in favour of the view that states only a man and a woman should marry, than I am of that which argues for the use of marriage to somehow lend respectability to same sex couples.

I, for one, am heartily sick of hearing that marriage is a force for the good. Marriage is not a thing in and of itself; it is an umbrella under which a whole rainbow of behaviours exist. There are wonderful, happy, fulfilling marriages, and there are awful, abusive, destructive marriages. Equally, there are myriad good lives to be lived outside of marriage too, and, indeed, outside of pairing-off into a nice, neat little couple.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is a big old red herring. The truth is that the state should butt the hell out of love. They should facilitate a basic way to register your next of kin – whoever they are – and then deregulate the rest of it, so that people can make whatever choice they want. The church could still carry out its irrelevant vision of ‘traditional’ weddings; and everyone else could make it up as they went along.

The question is, can all the Tories cope with a truly small state – one that doesn’t impose their moral beliefs on the rest of society? And can the rest of us bear to acknowledge that the world is made up of many different people?

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Blog Carnival: the best blogs on Sex, Love and Relationships

Welcome to my first Blog Carnival! I invited bloggers to share their recent posts with me on sex, love and relationships, and this is what I received.

Many of these are new to me, and I think they’re great; I hope you will too. Thanks so much to everyone who shared a post.

If you’d like to take part in future blog carnivals on my site, please sign up using the form at the bottom of this page.

The posts:

Meemalee writes movingly about having to live apart from someone you love, even if it’s not forever

The Harridan writes about the general crapness of fish as pets, and the marital disputes that this brings about

Mrs CeeeCeee confirms the pivotal role that Tetris can take in finding true love

The redemptive pleasure of a night of passion with a younger man, from La Nostra Nemesi

Rebekah Wilding explores why a spot of man-bashing probably saves a lot of marriages

At One Life Left And No Cheats, a look at the mistakes we’d willingly make all over again

Kinky Shoes writes a hymn of praise to the humble condom

ShakeItLikeAPolaroidPicture offers some poetry about A Transcending Love

Alison Dennehy  lays out the wonders of female friendship –  and her love of things that smell nice

Elsie Anderton helpfully shares her insights into how to camp without ruining your marriage

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Couples fuse surnames in new trend: ‘I now pronounce you Mr and Mrs Puffin’ – Telegraph

Obviously I love the name Puffin. But I also love the way that couples are making their own rules here – we’re witnessing an outbreak of creativity before the conventions settle down again.

Couples fuse surnames in new trend: ‘I now pronounce you Mr and Mrs Puffin’ – Telegraph.

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IVF And Sex: How The Treatment Hurts Couples’ Sex Lives

Anyone who’s ever had conception sex will know what a killer it is: it’s therefore no wonder that IVF has such a devastating impact – particularly when it’s such a long and uncertain road for most who undertake it.

IVF And Sex: How The Treatment Hurts Couples’ Sex Lives.

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Relationships Are Hard: Separate Beds

Can separate beds mean a better sex life?I would hate to share a bed with myself. I thrash about, sleep-talk and grind my teeth. I also slurp water from a plastic bottle throughout the night, noisily. I am possibly the worst sleeping partner imaginable.

Not a single bit of this bothers Herbert. Don’t ask me how. H is the sort of person who can sleep through a wild party next door. Whereas I will get all rage-y about it, H can simply observe that there is an large amount of noise going on, and fall asleep anyway. He truly sleeps the sleep of the just.

I, meanwhile, am a sensitive sleeper. Everything wakes me up. And so, even though I know it’s unfair, I take enormous issue with his snoring. It. Just. Drives. Me. Crazy. He has a cold at the moment, and so there is no position in which he won’t snort like a wild boar on heat. I try to be all Zen and accept it, but I can’t. I just get angrier and angrier. This, of course, only makes it harder for me to get back to sleep.

For this reason, H has moved into the spare room lately. It happened spontaneously in the middle of one night, when he reached the limit of times he was willing to be jabbed in the ribs. It was all very un-acrimonious. We both woke up the next morning feeling, well, refreshed. So much so that the next night, he suggested he went straight to the spare room, seeing as his cold was no better. And the next night. And the night after that.

It’s turned into a rather a luxurious habit. We cuddle up in (my) bed, watching TV or chatting, and then, when one of us gets sleepy, H retreats to the spare room. We both spread out in our own kingsize bed for the night, free of any infuriating distractions. And then, the next morning, we share a hug on the landing, usually with baby Bert sandwiched between us. It’s all rather civilised.

Will it last forever? I don’t know. Sadly, other people sleep in the guest bedroom sometimes. But it’s made me realise that we romanticise sharing a bed for no real reason. Some commentators have lamented the fact the most couples sleep with their backs to each other, but, really, does anyone actually sleep with their limbs entangled after a few months together?

I’m going to say something obvious here: we don’t have sex in our sleep (actually, there is a condition called sexsomnia, but that’s not what I’m talking about).

When sex begins to fade in a relationship, I think we often kid ourselves that it will happen by magic at some point: we will both be inspired, suddenly, to ravish each other. Sharing a bed is part of that faith. But in actual fact, that blissful moment when we finally get into bed after a long day is hardly conducive to sex; we’re usually so exhausted that we’re seconds away from sleep.

What’s more, the time at which most couples enjoy their hottest, most urgent sex comes before they share a bed, when they’re still living apart. Perhaps this is no coincidence. And scientists are beginning to agree: Neil Stanley’s research found that separate sleepers are healthier, happier and have better sex.

Could it be that separate bedrooms could inspire great sex, by bringing back privacy, mystery and separation into our over-familiar relationships?






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Ikea: Relationship Armageddon

The kind of Ikea interior that leads to arguments

Why do couples argue in Ikea?

I was amused to see the story of an Australian couple who’ve won a prize to get married in Ikea.

Quite apart from obvious question of why the hell anyone would want their wedding to be a publicity stunt for a major furniture retailer (the answer, apparently is, “It felt right to be able to show our commitment to one another by getting married somewhere we both love, and to show the world that romance can be alive anywhere.” A spontaneous quote if ever I heard one), I can’t be the only person who associates Ikea with complete marital meltdown.

You know that couple who you pass in the rugs section, who are screaming at each other with such ferocity that you have to avert your gaze and assume they’re only staying together for the sake of the children? That’s us, every time we set foot in the place.

This is despite the fact that, nowadays, when we absolutely have to go to Ikea for something, we pause in the car park to gaze solemnly into each other’s eyes, and swear that, this time, we won’t rise to any aggression from our partner, implied or otherwise. Ten minutes later, we will have descended into a hissing, passive-aggressive standoff over whichever part of the kitchen has fallen off this time.

What is it about that place? Is it the perma-daylight, and the geographically-confounding warren they create in their stores, which I am certain is aimed inducing a sense of huntedness, thus leading to the panic-buying of tea-lights and straws?

Or is it the cultish happiness of the place, the yellow-shirted staff calling each other colleagues and the utopian images of tiny flats made enormous by massed storage, that scatter the walls? One can’t help but feel that this is what it must have felt like to live in USSR, back in the day: a thin attempt is made to spin the drudgery of life, but it doesn’t matter that nobody believes it, because there’s no choice either way.

Or perhaps it’s just exhaustion, or sensory-overload, or the way that, despite only picking up a few things costing £1 each, you end up spending a minimum of £60 every time you enter the stop-start yellow doors. All I can tell you is this: there was once particularly nasty incident over some lightbulbs that I thought would actually break us. At moments of weakness, we are still capable of bickering over it.

So, perhaps Ikea are wise to start the PR fightback early, positioning themselves as the guardians of marital bliss, before they get cited in too many divorce suits.

And do you want to know the worst thing? Just writing this has made me crave meatballs and lingonberry jam. Bastards. They’ve got me again. Time to make a pact with Herbert.


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Mopping the floor: better than sex!

I have to admit, I was rather disheartened to read this article in the Daily Mail.

In it, Shona Sibary talks about all the things she’d rather do than have sex with her husband, and of course quotes statistics from a survey that ‘proves’ it’s a big trend.

Well, it’s no news that many women go off sex over the course of long term relationships (and, it appears from his response, that her husband isn’t exactly keen as mustard either).

Although we tend to see marriages as static things, we would be better off understanding them as vehicles that allow huge changes to happen over time. They see us into new careers, mortgages, parenthood, bereavement, illness and ageing, amongst other things. It’s no wonder that our sex drives will wax and wane over that time, especially if you include the inevitable boredom of going to bed with the same person for the rest of your life.

What horrifies me about this article, though, is the blatant cruelty of it. It taps into a rather alarming part of contemporary female culture that makes it reasonable to run down our partners in public as if they’re nothing. You are so appallingly vile, the article implies, that I’d rather undertake the nastiest of household chores than touch your body.

We need to be kinder to our partners, and acknowledge the inherent difficulty of maintaining lust over decades. Our problem is that we’ve trapped ourselves in the belief that we should expect absolute sexual fidelity, even if we we don’t want to have any sex at all.

It’s a dog-in-a-manger position, when you think about it. If we are being loving towards our partners, and if we respect their physical and emotional needs, we have a responsibility to at least take them into account. Nobody should force themselves to have sex ‘for the sake of their marriage’, but it seems barely worth stating that, equally, we shouldn’t humiliate them in the Daily Mail in order to collect our shoddy little fee and gain a bit of home-counties post-feminist back-slapping.

Whether we like it or not, our partners’ sexual needs do not disappear just because ours do. Everyone has the right to decide not to have sex, for whatever reason. But we don’t get to decide on behalf of our partners, too. Surely it’s better to explore different formats for our relationships, than to indulge in this brutal rejection?

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