Marriage: What is it good for? - Boodle Hatfield

Your lawyers since 1722

Article
14 Mar 2024

Marriage: What is it good for?

Written by

Emily Brand View profile
3 min read

Yesterday evening, we were delighted to host a provocative panel discussion exploring what motivates people in the modern day to enter into the legal union of marriage and whether we should continue to award a special status to the married in our society.  Or, to plagiarise the wonderful 80s band Frankie Goes to Hollywood, is marriage now good for a resounding "absolutely nothing"?

We often hear the case against marriage – and not just from our divorcing clients. British adults today are 45% more likely to have never been married than they were in 1991. The current trends suggest that marriage will all but disappear by 2062 – that's less than 40 years away. 

To help us in the quest for truth we enlisted an illustrious panel of experts. The discussion was hosted by multi-award-winning financial journalist, broadcaster and commentator, Claer Barrett, and was enriched with insights, research and experiences from Sir Nicholas Mostyn (former judge of the Family Division of the High Court),  Caitlin Moran (journalist, broadcaster, and author),  Professor Gordon Harold (Professor of the Psychology of Education and Mental Health at Cambridge University), and Professor Berkay Ozcan (Professor of Social and Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science).

Together with our audience, our panel explored:

  • Whether the ring of marriage does indeed symbolise a love as pure as gold and as unending as a circle, or is it in fact the ring of Sauron (as in the Lord of the Rings) a coveted object, endlessly pursued, that endows the wearer with great power but progressively corrupts their mind? 
  • Whether having married parents improves the overall welfare and long-term outcomes for children? 
  • If being married enhances an individual's prospects of attaining personal fulfilment in a way that is more significant than cohabitation? 
  • Is today’s society just fixated on the ‘Instagram moment’ and not the work that goes into marriage after the 'big day'?
  • Does marriage benefit the state / our society? Or is there something more ancient at work here – possibly a hangover from more patriarchal days?
  • Would we be better off mirroring the same model as they have in Australia where the married and unmarried have the same rights after two years of cohabitation or the birth of a child?

In the words of Caitlin Moran ‘I feel like marriage the way I feel about Wales - I love it, it’s the only place I go on holiday, but I’ve got friends who’ve had a terrible time there’. 

Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing more content that looks at some of these issues in greater detail - so stay tuned!

Written by