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Nicky Marr: Do civil partnerships fit couples better than marriage?

By Nicky Marr

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Civil Partnerships or Marriage?
Civil Partnerships or Marriage?

It’s all change in the Marr household – after nearly six years of living and working in Edinburgh, Mr Marr handed in his notice and returned home at the weekend to take up a new post in the Highlands later this week.

His return home has generated some trepidation – in us both – and has prompted some frank conversations about how we want to live together. Each of us has got used to our own space while we’ve indulged in ‘twin-city living’, expanding our lives to fill some of the space the other used to occupy.

It won’t be a smooth transition, we’re prepared for that, but we started as we mean to go on, with whisky cocktails before a fancy-pants home-cooked dinner. And as I type, Mr Marr is working through the DIY list I prepared for him. Result.

Few of us get this opportunity to redefine our relationships, and after 29 years of marriage (35 years together) we’re taking time to focus on what works for us, and what doesn’t.

But the burning question is this: If I could marry him again tomorrow, would I? Reader, I wouldn’t.

So, what has prompted this? A desire to move on, or for a little variety after all this time? A fear of my freedoms being reined in? Or a fear of losing my identity, and just being seen as part of a couple again?

Actually, none of the above.

It took a trip to the theatre and some Facebook scrolling to make me reconsider what it means to be married. And I wonder if Scots Law needs a bit of an update.

Have you seen the musical Six? It’s a high-energy, funny, yet sobering 90-minutes rewriting the story of Henry VIII as told by his six wives who were – in turn – divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. In reality-TV style, the audience are asked which of the six (three Catherines, two Annes and a Jane) got the worst deal in her marriage to the monarch, and – other than the one who outlived him – it was a really tough call.

There was nothing in their stories to commend marriage at all. Granted, the institution has moved on since Tudor times, and Henry wasn’t a great role model, even for husbands of the 1500s.

But doesn’t marriage still seem a little patriarchal?

And what has Facebook got to do with my decision? Idly scrolling, I saw that an old Edinburgh pal had entered into a civil partnership with his girlfriend, and another couple – who I’d long assumed to have been married for decades – did the same thing in Highland this weekend.

From what I know of their relationship, civil partnership just feels right for them. And I’m slightly envious that it wasn’t an option for us when we tied the knot.

It’s not that we blindly followed a prescribed wedding service even then; we made the effort to find a Unitarian minister who would marry us without religion, but with more ceremony than was on offer in a Registry Office back in 1994.

We wrote our own vows (no obeying) and from then on, we worked as a team, as a real partnership, especially in the raising of our children.

Click here to read more by Nicky Marr

Civil partnerships and marriages confer identical rights, responsibilities, and benefits, and both are available to everyone. But here’s the rub; while a civil partnership can be converted to a marriage for a £30 fee (it’s an extra £10 for a copy of the certificate) to convert the other way, from marriage to civil partnership, requires a divorce first.

Partnership sits with how Mr Marr and I want to live our lives in 2023. It feels like a more conscious, equal, and deliberate way of choosing to be together, and represents how we have lived our lives this far.

Quick change in the law, please? I’m sure Humza doesn’t have anything else to focus on…

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