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The end of "With this policy, I thee wed."
June 30, 2012 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Obamacare: One Less Reason to Get Married. Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel writes: Insurance Marriages had become to the 21st century what shotgun weddings were to jokes about hillbillies. Back in 2004, the LA Times wrote about couples that married for insurance, couples who for varying reasons had not wanted to marry, but who had been driven to marriage by financial necessity. ABC News posted its own roundup of With This Policy, I Thee Wed-style couples in 2008, as did the New York Times. In 2008, 7% of couples who married reported doing so primarily for the insurance benefits.

With the Affordable Care Act now upheld by the Supreme Court, however, (assuming that it's not repealed in 2013), health insurance will cease to be an incentive to get married; and, conversely, may remove a potential impediment to divorce.
posted by Cash4Lead (61 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hey now, we can still get apartment married, right?
posted by The Whelk at 11:04 AM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


When has marriage ever not been primarily a way to improve one's economic circumstances? Isn't that the point?
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 11:08 AM on June 30, 2012 [17 favorites]


But aren't there also people who have had to postpone or otherwise put off marriage in order to not lose health insurance benefits? I imagine it's a smaller number, but I'm sure they exist.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:09 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


> (assuming that it's not repealed in 2013)

Conservatism has gone from standing athwart history yelling stop, to squatting atop the present taking a dump.
posted by DJ 3000 at 11:10 AM on June 30, 2012 [51 favorites]


Until DOMA is repealed, it wouldn't matter if I got married or not -- many insurance companies won't cover same-sex partners, even if married, under spousal benefit offerings.
posted by hippybear at 11:11 AM on June 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


Hippybear, I did not know that. That is some fucked up shit. I had figured that once we got same-sex marriage in place, all marriages would be equal. Apparently not? That sucks.
posted by Scientist at 11:14 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was just joking with the gf about this yesterday. I'll have to switch to shitty grad school insurance from my parents' "cadillac" policy if Obamacare gets dumped next February after inauguration. She won't have any insurance if Obamacare gets dumped and she loses coverage under her parents. Yikes.

However, since open enrollment for insurance policies is in December normally, won't we both be locked in for all of 2013, no matter what happens wrt the ACA being overturned?
posted by tetracycline at 11:15 AM on June 30, 2012


Why would I pay for my own health insurance if my husband's firm pays for it?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:18 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scientist: I read through my recently acquired health insurance documents very carefully. All through the policy, they talk about "spouse" and such, and I was feeling heartened until I got to page 97, in the glossary, which contains this:
SPOUSE
With respect to an employee, a person to whom the employee is legally married as evidenced by the issuance of a marriage certificate by a governmental authority, provided that, in accordance with the Federal Defense Of Marriage Act, the marraige is between one man and one woman.
This is apparently not an uncommon thing to find in insurance policies, specifically citing DOMA as a reason to deny coverage.
posted by hippybear at 11:19 AM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have lived monogamously with the same woman for nearly 30 years now. We only got married because the company health insurance I get became more affordable and reliable than her individual policy.

We used to tell people who would ask when we were getting married, "We have a great relationship, why should we let the government fuck it up?" The answer turned out to be health insurance.

Incidentally, long before we were married we bought a house together. You can't get a divorce from that.
posted by localroger at 11:26 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Getting me on my husband's insurance was part of the reason for the timing of our wedding, but it wasn't the reason we got married. If the institution of marriage is stripped of all its legal or insurance-related benefits, people will still get married. My husband and I still would have. We're both very liberal, and don't care how anyone else chooses to organize their relationships, but we wanted to be married. I'm sure we ought to have been Too Cool for Marriage, but shit, we weren't.

Also, like all Jezebel pieces, this is a flimsily written piece of fluff mcflufferfluff.
posted by Coatlicue at 11:28 AM on June 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


Why would I pay for my own health insurance if my husband's firm pays for it?

In our case, his family coverage is more expensive and more limited than our separate plans.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:35 AM on June 30, 2012


Getting me on my husband's insurance was part of the reason for the timing of our wedding, but it wasn't the reason we got married. If the institution of marriage is stripped of all its legal or insurance-related benefits, people will still get married.

Sure... but if you remove the insurance incentive for marriage and thus the accelerated marriages, some of those marriages won't happen at all because the couple will split up before they would get married on a non-insurance-driven timeline. On the flip side, some divorces don't happen for insurance reasons or are delayed. My mother had breast cancer and her ability to get/afford insurance definitely impacted all sorts of things around her splitting with my dad because she needed a job with benefits before dropping of my dad's insurance.
posted by hoyland at 11:41 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obama is destroying the sanctity of marriages of convenience!
posted by mazola at 11:45 AM on June 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


We got married primarily for insurance and other business reasons six years ago after 15 years of happy cohabitation. I still feel guilty for casting aside my belief that my relationship is none of the guvmint's business. Dag nab it. As anticipated, however, our actual relationship is exactly as before.
posted by Occula at 11:48 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wife and I had been together 7 years and only got around to tying the knot because I was moving overseas and it was much easier to get a visa for her as husband and wife. But the tax and insurance benefits were nice!
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:48 AM on June 30, 2012


I'll bet a lot of people who get insurance-married are just using the insurance to hide the fact that they're not too cool to get married.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


... our state did not yet have civil unions, or we would have gone that route.
posted by Occula at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2012


Health insurance was a big factor in my getting married the first time and also delaying the divorce for almost three years until I finished school and could get my own insurance.
posted by octothorpe at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2012


We also got married (after already buying a home together) so I could go on my husband's insurance to start my own company. But I'm glad it worked out that way, because being married to him turns out to be awesome.
posted by nev at 11:59 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, this will ruin the chances of all of us unappealing people for getting that desperate-for-insurance marriage! Thanks a lot, Justice Roberts!
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:11 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Except that this is almost certainly not true, unless the lowest level of compulsory insurance is roughly equivalent to basic employer plans, something I just don't think will be true unless employers degrade their plans to coincide with the lowest level of legal insurance. (which i guess is likely enough but then...)

The basic fact of ACA is that the effectiveness of the law is driven by what *exactly* the regulations are for the lowest level of acceptable health insurance. Something I don't think has been determined any may end up beign determined by the "market" AKA the state-by-state health care exchanges. Frankly, given the politics of how it was passed and the politics of health care in this country in general, I suspect this isn't going to make anyone happy. Not liberals looking for universal health care, not tea partistas angry at big guvmint, not hospitals dealing with patients who can't pay their big under-deductible bills.
posted by ennui.bz at 12:18 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


However, since open enrollment for insurance policies is in December normally, won't we both be locked in for all of 2013, no matter what happens wrt the ACA being overturned?

Well, there are a few different avenues of attack that a (hopefully purely hypothetical) Romney administration could take to try to undo the ACA, but I think most of them would take years to implement except in the unlikely scenario that the Republicans also have 60 Senate seats. Even if Romney were in a position to mostly unwind Obamacare, the dependent coverage for under-26s part might still be left in place - insurance carriers like it too, since it adds a cohort of young and mostly healthy people to their risk pools.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 12:25 PM on June 30, 2012


Until DOMA is repealed, it wouldn't matter if I got married or not -- many insurance companies won't cover same-sex partners, even if married, under spousal benefit offerings.



record scratch


WHAT


Every day, I learn a new awful thing.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:29 PM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would love a visa wedding. If anyone's interested in doubling up on regions they can live or do business in without a fuss let me know.
posted by Winnemac at 12:34 PM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


The writer forgot to subtract the divorces created today because of insurance problems between spouses. When a spouse loses their job and they had healthcare through their job now that spouse is less attractive.
posted by humanfont at 12:35 PM on June 30, 2012


> When has marriage ever not been primarily a way to improve one's economic circumstances? Isn't that the point?

No. I married Mr Corpse because I loved him. I don't think that's unusual. (To marry for love, that is; Mr Corpse can be kind of cranky.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:36 PM on June 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


My ex and I have been separated for almost 6 years, we live 900 miles apart, and we talk maybe a half-dozen times a year about practical matters. We remain legally married because of the health insurance he gets from his employer. It's great insurance, costs him about $100/month for the "family" plan (individual is free), and a really crappy high-deductible plan through my employer would cost me more than all of my other monthly expenses combined. It's crazy. The affordability and quality of health insurance should not be related in amy way to where you work.
posted by headnsouth at 12:36 PM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


To elaborate, I think I am in the running for the award for Least Romantic Proposal EVAR due to this effect.

For many years my company had United Health Care as its provider, and they had a two-tier rate schedule, "individual" and "family." Naturally that meant that childfree families such as ours were subsidizing people who had kids, and the rate was 4x greater and more than what Y was paying for her individual policy.

However, a few years ago UHC decided to pay off their nifty new computer system in one year and raised our rates 99.9% in one year, wherupon my boss switched us to Blue Cross Blue Shield. They have a FOUR tier plan, with "couple" as a choice as well as "small" and "large" family. Their couple rate for both of us was half what she was paying for her individual policy, and she was getting increasingly worried that if she ever tried to use the individual policy she'd be canceled.

I brought the rate schedule home, dropped it on her desk, and said "You know it might be time."

Oh, should you live in Louisiana it's much easier to get married in Arkansas, and there are some lovely B&B's in Hot Springs with package deals. We didn't tell anyone until it was fait accompli so that there would be no arguing about who was invited.
posted by localroger at 12:40 PM on June 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


...in *any* way. And I pay him the $1200. Per year, whereas a less comprehensive monththrough my employer would cost me that much per month.
posted by headnsouth at 12:41 PM on June 30, 2012


No. I married Mr Corpse because I loved him. I don't think that's unusual. (To marry for love, that is; Mr Corpse can be kind of cranky.)

"Love" is a good reason to spend time with someone and/or have sex. But why marry if not for practical considerations? I've been in love numerous times but only once did I think, "Hey, I think marrying this lady actually makes sense."
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 12:43 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


unless the lowest level of compulsory insurance is roughly equivalent to basic employer plans

first off, how can anyone expect a different outcome than this? I'm genuinely curious. you mention you don't expect that to be the case; why not? Due to the good will and community spirit of the insurance providers?

second, aren't current basic employer plans already the classic case of 'not actually useful for most care needs'? I could be totally wrong here.

third, looking at car insurance, doesn't lowest-level coverage fall to this level of service universally? That is, the insurance covers damage you may cause to other people and cars but not to your vehicle. Does The ACA make whatever rough equivalent of this might be invented for health insurance illegal?

And finally, there's no doubt in my mind this will get picked up and used under the stupid 'war on marriage' hamburger on the right regardless of the accuracy of the analysis.
posted by mwhybark at 12:51 PM on June 30, 2012


My boss married her boyfriend, a struggling writer, back in the mid-90s so he would have insurance. That marriage didn't last. My husband and I delayed formal divorce for five years after the split so I would have health insurance, during which time I was employed sporadically and never with my own insurance. That was almost 30 years ago. My ex-husband returned to the job he hated and had taken early retirement from, then married his longtime partner so they could both have health insurance for some very expensive health problems — heart bypass, breast cancer 2X, diabetes, MS — that was draining their bank accounts to the tune of about $20,000 a year. It was a blow to her independence and there was no celebration. I was prepared to marry my longtime partner after he became disabled in 2003 to get him on my health insurance even though we no longer lived together. Luckily the VA finally accepted him after two years in the bureaucratic abyss. That's a lot of couples in my somewhat small immediate circle. There's probably a statistical study somewhere about the couples in the 40-65 age range who marry for health insurance (I didn't look at the NYT link), although it may be somewhat offset by the older couples who don't marry because it might cause loss or reduction in pension benefits through previous spouses, which is the reason my ex-partner's mother lived "in sin" with the man who otherwise would have been her second husband. The sorting out after his death was a nightmare for the families and I suspect there is still some bad blood over it.
posted by kemrocken at 1:00 PM on June 30, 2012


Until DOMA is repealed, it wouldn't matter if I got married or not -- many insurance companies won't cover same-sex partners, even if married, under spousal benefit offerings.

This is more about state insurance regulations than about the company's policies - several states have regulations requiring civil unions, same-sex marriages, etc. (the wording can change from state to state) to be covered, while others don't. And if you have a group insurance plan and your state has no insurance regulations one way or the other concerning and civil unions, the employer group can request that they be covered, or specifically not covered.

So if you're in Rhode Island the policy you get will be different than the policy you get in Texas for the same product. Or your policy could differ from company to company within the same state depending on what your employer wanted when they bought it.
posted by frobozz at 1:14 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


DOMA is possibly the most insidious law imaginable for LGBT folks. Not too many people know it even exists, since it was passed in 1996 (co-sponsored by then-Rep. Bob Barr and then-Senator Don Nickles) and nobody ever talks about it unless they're activists agitating for it to be rescinded or agitating for it to be super-beefed-up. Even fewer people know what it actually does -- including policies such as those hippybear mentions, which have long been chiseled into federal law and regulations that refer back to the law and so forth and so on.

Also long forgotten are these facts: large majorities in both Houses fast-tracked and voted the law into effect (342-67 in the House and 85-14 in the Senate), at a time when there were far more Democrats in both Houses. And it was signed, quite happily and promptly, into law by Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996.

The point, I suppose, is that it's now over 16 years later and times have changed (very much so) and the law must change. Now.

This is more about state insurance regulations than about the company's policies - several states have regulations requiring civil unions, same-sex marriages, etc. (the wording can change from state to state) to be covered, while others don't.

Regardless of state insurance regs, the federal law must still change. Now.
posted by blucevalo at 1:23 PM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sorry. It's not quite "over 16 years later" from Clinton's signing, but it is "over 16 years later" since the bill was introduced.
posted by blucevalo at 1:25 PM on June 30, 2012


Could someone explain to me why it would be a less of a reason to get married?
posted by fleacircus at 2:21 PM on June 30, 2012


Blucevalo I underastand where you're coming from but I don't think "marriage equality" is the answer. The answer is to not have "marriage" be all that important. I should be able to specify someone else, whether my female friend, my male friend, my parent, or some random person I've hired to look after my interests or with whom to share my insurance liability. Currently there is no provision to do that in some of the ways that marriage does.

That is the problem. Gay marriage only solves that problem in small ways for a small number of people. Granted, they deserve to have the problem solved for them and hurrah and all that, but the real solution is getting rid of this whole permanent relationship thing that has all kinds of bennies you can't get outside of it.

ACA does that for health insurance, and it's a better solution.
posted by localroger at 2:21 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


ACA does that for health insurance, and it's a better solution.

I agree wholeheartedly that one should be able to designate one other adult as "the other" that is covered through a work-based insurance plan, and whatever children might be involved through either the primary insured or that "other". I mean, what would insurance companies have to lose, other than collecting more premiums and spreading out their risk pool? As long as there are mechanisms in place to keep people from making willy-nilly changes in this sort of status, it should be entirely workable. The current setup is just stupid.

I do wonder, however, exactly how ACA is going to affect the way people currently covered are covered. Will couples who are currently covered through through insurance at one half's work have to buy separate policies? Will there still be family policies offered to new employees, or will it be a system where existing policies are grandfathered in and new eligibles will have different rules without joint coverage?

I'm in favor of ACA (although I'd rather see single-payer universal coverage instead of this handout to insurance companies), but I do find I have a lot of questions about how exactly everything is going to shake-down as it rolls into effect.
posted by hippybear at 2:33 PM on June 30, 2012


I call that the Establishment Clause Dodge, localroger. Having been raised in an anabaptist denomination, I grew up with a strong sense that you just wouldn't *want* the state to have an interest in dictating sacraments, and so saying "well, the state isn't interested in anything besides contractual concerns, so shouldn't be calling this 'marriage'" would come as a relief to people concerned that suddenly their local minister would be frog-marched to the pulpit to perform gay marriages.

But we're talking about people who can't or don't want to hear that, and who really do want the state to be in the sacrament business, just in the most benighted and homophobic way possible.

And we're also talking about people in general, along with their penchant for imprecise language and using one issue as a proxy for others.

I don't want it to be so, because I believe it means a harder road ahead for my queer friends, but I think it's going to just come down to "it's going to have to be called marriage, and it's going to have to be so anyone can do it."
posted by mph at 2:43 PM on June 30, 2012


Getting me on my husband's insurance was part of the reason for the timing of our wedding, but it wasn't the reason we got married.

Same here. We had a wedding planned for the following summer and were concurrently trying to get pregnant... as it turns out, we didn't really have to "try" too hard. So, I ended up pregnant so far ahead of the actual wedding that our son was a guest in a size 0-3mo. tuxedo. Which meant that we had to get *legally* married ahead of time so that I could quit my job and still have the birth covered by insurance.

(And because I know you want to see it - baby tux!)
posted by sonika at 2:46 PM on June 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


As I understand it, discriminating against people based on sexual orientation is illegal in at least some states in the US. If that state doesn't allow gay marriage, wouldn't that make any discrimination based on marriage status illegal by definition? I'm not a lawyer, but that seems logical to me.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:52 PM on June 30, 2012


unless the lowest level of compulsory insurance is roughly equivalent to basic employer plans

first off, how can anyone expect a different outcome than this? I'm genuinely curious. you mention you don't expect that to be the case; why not? Due to the good will and community spirit of the insurance providers?


well, first, there is the class assumption in this article that we are thinking about a couple where one person is a professional with a "basic" plan: it may have a deductible but they won't go broke paying it, reasonable coverage, etc. This probably looks like a "cadillac" plan to someone working at Walmart or some other place offering plans with minimal or trick coverage, but is actually a step down from an actual cadillac plan with free coverage for most anything anywhere.

ACA requires everyone to purchase insurance from an "exchange" for which every plan must satisfy certain minimium properties. Unfortunately, what constitutes minimum coverage was not fully specified in the legistlation and was to be determined at a later date. However, because these exchanges are state-wide rather than national, there is some question as to how much of the minimum coverage will be specified at the state level. Furthermore, it's then possible that consumers will be allowed the "choice" of buying coverage across-state lines which will give incentives for some states to have very lax requirements as to what constitutes minimum coverage and may create a race to the bottom in that regard.

At this point, given that no one actually likes this law. There is every possibility that lobbying will drive this regulatory process to a degree that post-ACA america looks remarkably like the pre-ACA america except that everyone is paying for insurance and under-25's whose parents have good coverage have good coverage. Pre-existing condition people are stuck between either paying too much, paying for too little, or hoping that someone actually funds high-risk pools.

But, in general, this Jezebel puff-piece is typical of the politics of ACA: people who want something like what everyone else in the post-industrial world has in terms of paying for health care, imagine that ACA actually does this.
posted by ennui.bz at 2:54 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the other side of marriage, insurance is something that keeps some couples married long after they are separated. Losing the backup of a partner being able to include you on their family plan in the event of job loss can be a real burden, not just for the all-but-paperwork exes but also for any kids they have (one catastrophic illness, uncovered, can eat up any savings towards college).

It's an awful example of a one-way downward mobility in the US that can hit anyone of middle-class means in this situation.
posted by zippy at 3:02 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joakim: The dodge I've seen is that gay people are not discriminated against, because they're free to marry people of the opposite sex, just like everyone else is. Yeah, that's pretty transparent and judges don't always fall for it, but I gather that sometimes they do.
posted by hattifattener at 3:05 PM on June 30, 2012


I've mentioned before on Metafilter that we got married last summer (after 14 years together) because I was about to become a state employee with the excellent benefits that entails. I don't regret for a minute that my dude now has awesome health insurance, and we honestly never would have bothered if not for that incentive.

I agree with others, though, that the ACA wouldn't have prevented our wedding, He had crappy individual insurance that didn't actually cover anything in the past--this was an opportunity to get really good, employer subsidized insurance (in a state where any benefits for domestic partnerships are outlawed).

Until we separate health insurance from employment for real, and finally have a rational single-payer system, people will keep getting married to access high quality insurance.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:06 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Enui.bz: Just to clarify, ACA doesn't require everyone to buy insurance through the exchanges; just those those who are buying it on the individual market. But given that employer-provided insurance is becoming less and less common, the exchanges will be where a lot of people get their coverage (not to mention the fact that employers may well start dumping plans to save money). In that world, how the exchanges are designed will be crucial to whether there will be a real change from the status quo.
posted by Cash4Lead at 3:14 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lesbian couple I know are good friends with a gay couple. One member of each couple has good insurance. They are contemplating 2 marriages of convenience so that all 4 of them can have good insurance.
posted by mareli at 3:18 PM on June 30, 2012


Furthermore, it's then possible that consumers will be allowed the "choice" of buying coverage across-state lines which will give incentives for some states to have very lax requirements as to what constitutes minimum coverage and may create a race to the bottom in that regard.

I'm not sure this is probable, though. Since there's no pre-existing conditions any more, anyone in a trick bare-minimum policy (ie one that maxes out or simply doesn't cover certain illnesses) could just move to a good one when they got sick. This would make it extremely disadvantageous to construct an exchange with bad policies available. The good plans would end up sucking in all the high risk people. The low end plans would more likely be HMO-style policies with higher copays. Right?
posted by condour75 at 4:10 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll bet a lot of people who get insurance-married are just using the insurance to hide the fact that they're not too cool to get married.
Anecdata in support of Obscure Reference: mrs_goldfish has admitted talking me into getting civil-unionized for insurance reasons when her true motives were romantic. She planned to use the same strategy for marriage too, when it became legal; but by then I'd had my own change of heart and wanted to propose properly -- so, on the phone while waiting for my flight out to our rendezvous city, I had to keep crushing her attempts at initiating insurance-chat.
posted by feral_goldfish at 4:21 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yep, out in the dating market a ways back and had two suitors inquire about my job and what kind of insurance I had. One was employed without insurance and the other jobless. Needless to say, I wasn't ready to support anyone again after my divorce. Now I have a couple friends new to the dating scene and are getting the same inquiries. So, Hey Baby, have insurance.... lol
posted by PJMoore at 4:22 PM on June 30, 2012


When has marriage ever not been primarily a way to improve one's economic circumstances? Isn't that the point?

I don't know your deal, but I did it to have a huge party with all my friends and family to celebrate how in love I was with my girlfriend.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:52 PM on June 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't know your deal, but I did it to have a huge party with all my friends and family to celebrate how in love I was with my girlfriend.

This.
posted by pianoboy at 8:40 PM on June 30, 2012


I don't know your deal, but I did it to have a huge party with all my friends and family to celebrate how in love I was with my girlfriend.

That's a reason to have a wedding, but it's not really a reason to have a civil marriage. They're two separate things, though sometimes one of the pieces of paper involved in the latter gets signed during the former.
posted by jedicus at 9:38 PM on June 30, 2012


Insurance isn't why we were or are still together - we love each other - but it is totally the reason we got married.

My proposal competes with localroger's for lack of romance:

(Driving in a car after job offer that would require us to move to new state:)

"So, um, I've, you know, been thinking about ... well, I'm not likely to have health insurance coverage here, so, um, as a practical matter ... plus, you know, there's stuff like jail visitation rights, or if one of us is in a coma ... um, I thought maybe we seriously think about that."

"Yeah, that does make sense." (Beat.) "Wait, did you just propose?"

"Um ... yeah."

"Oh." (Longish pause. Finally, a weary sigh.) "I guess so."
posted by kyrademon at 1:23 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a reason to have a wedding, but it's not really a reason to have a civil marriage. They're two separate things, though sometimes one of the pieces of paper involved in the latter gets signed during the former.

I've got this Sourdough that's been in my wife's family for around one hundred and fifty years. We use it to make all sorts of stuff, including sourdough waffles. Any time we make sourdough waffles we also have to make some of the home-made breakfast sausage. My wife loves to use the breakfast sausage to clean up the syrup that's left on the plate after she gets done eating her waffles. It's this little personal ritual she's developed over the years, and I always make sure that I and the kids leave one sausage on the serving plate for her to do this. This is so ingrained in her sourdough waffle eating experience that she tells me it's WHY she likes waffles so much. Now I suppose that doesn't make that much sense, I mean, we could just have breakfast sausage and maple syrup without the waffles, but to my wife, that's just not the same.

To a sizable portion of the people, doing the first without the second isn't a marriage. That's a discussion between them and whoever they're looking to marry. We're talking about love and relationships, which involve (like waffles) all sorts of complicated, messy, and irrational things. Just because you don't see the how the rational behind signing the marriage license makes sense, doesn't mean that it's not an honest explanation of why they did it.
posted by Gygesringtone at 5:22 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I proposed to my wife for no other reason than that I loved her and that I wanted to spend all of my life with her, but it did not escape my thinking at the time that I had insurance through my work and she did not, and that this was going to be useful for the both of us.

Now almost two decades later she's the one with the insurance, and I'm the one benefiting from it.
posted by jscalzi at 6:49 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just because you don't see the how the rational behind signing the marriage license makes sense, doesn't mean that it's not an honest explanation of why they did it.

In my opinion the burden is on the other side to recognize its irrationality, not on me to recognize that "I just don't get it." The civil marriage simply has nothing to do with the party. You can have one without the other and many people do.

Now, if one wants to say "I wanted to demonstrate how much I loved my significant other so I entangled all of our legal and financial affairs in a difficult and expensive to undo way as a demonstration of commitment to the relationship"...that would make sense. I'd still think it was a bad idea (hey: want to really show you're committed? Get a 'covenant marriage'!) but at least it's a rational argument.

To a sizable portion of the people, doing the first without the second isn't a marriage

That's incredibly insulting to the people who have weddings without civil marriages (e.g. same sex couples in many states, couples who don't get civilly married for financial reasons).

And what's their basis for believing that, anyway? From a religious standpoint, for example, what matters is the wedding ceremony, not the civil marriage. The only reason to conflate the wedding with the civil marriage is that, from their perspective, "that's how it's always done." It's a false argument from tradition based on cultural myopia.

If someone can't separate the idea of a wedding from a civil marriage, and so they think a wedding isn't a wedding without a civil marriage, that's their business. But they shouldn't pretend it's anything other than an irrationally held belief based on nothing but their own sense of tradition. It's exactly the same argument many people invoke to say that a same sex marriage isn't a real marriage: because marriage has 'always been' between a man and a woman. Such people are entitled to their irrationality, but it's still irrational.
posted by jedicus at 7:25 AM on July 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


My man married me so I could quit my horrible job and get on his health insurance. I call that sacrifice for love!
posted by Foam Pants at 11:22 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


My proposal competes with localroger's for lack of romance:

I was sitting in an Irish bar in Queenstown, having just ordered a Guinness. My girlfriend took a sip of her wine. A thought struck me: "Would you marry me?" I asked. "Yep", she replied.

I'm not sure if that's romantic or not.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:37 PM on July 1, 2012


Sebmojo, I would consider that a lot more romantic than what I did.
posted by localroger at 5:47 PM on July 1, 2012


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