So apparently by 2016 the majority of babies will be born out of wedlock. Tediously, practically everyone reporting this factors in the cost of weddings as a major factor in deciding whether or not to tie the knot. I imagine this is probably the case and yet…
Some of us got married without having to remortgage the house! Some of us didn’t spend thousands of pounds! We got married for well under £1,000 and we had a lovely day. It was mostly stress free (the thunderstorm and extreme temperature in the evening caused concern) and was full of friends and love.
I mention this because we’re off to a friend’s wedding celebration this weekend. I doubt they’ll have spent a small fortune either. You really don’t have to.
Anyway, their wedding gives us the chance to celebrate what’s really important in life – forget all that stuff about standing up in public and declaring your commitment to each other, forget love and cherish and the stuff about looking after each other when you’re old. No, marriage these days is all about the tax incentives.
The latest in the government’s list of stupid ideas is to offer a tax break of up to £150 to married couples. But only couples where one of them, usually, though not exclusively the woman, stays at home and doesn’t work. Wow. Apparently this will ‘incentivise’ people to get married. (I hate that word. In fact I’m not sure it actually is a word.) I cannot imagine how they think anyone would want to get married for £150. I mean really, what would we spend it on? 3 days childcare? A couple of tanks of petrol? No, no, you’re too kind.
I realise, of course, that this is merely the latest in a series of ideologically driven policies that bear no relation to common sense, evidence or even consistency in policies by the same party but still. I feel a bit like Amy in The West Wing when she galvanises her team to try and overturn the exact same thing. (And fails). But it stinks. The only positive thing is that it’s so little money that it shouldn’t ‘incentivise’ people to marry when they really shouldn’t – for example, people feeling like they should stay in an abusive relationship for the money or something like that.
And what kind of message does it send children about commitment? “Well, your father and I realised we weren’t cut out for a long term commitment but we decided to stay together.” “Was that to be with me, Mummy?” “No, dear it was for the money.”
My friends tomorrow are not blessed with cash and neither are we. I doubt either of us will benefit from this new initiative. But that isn’t why I oppose it. But I know that S and I married each other because we wanted to make a commitment to each other and that was our choice. I cannot see a reason why we should be rewarded by the state for this public choice.
I am looking forward to the wedding though.