"Fancy a Curry Tonight, Darling, or a Wedding?" Liam and Patsy May Not Have Thought Quite Hard Enough about What Marriage Entails

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So much for National Marriage Week. There we were with the national marriage all ready to roll. Photographers' stepladders padlocked to the railings; [pounds]1,500-worth of Casablancan lilies delivered at dawn; poulets cooked, cake prepared, bridegroom's mum on the shuttle down from Manchester.

And then Liam and Patsy called it off, in favour of a day spent eating chicken tikka massala in bed. Of course it wouldn't have lasted. Marriage demands respect for one's partner's comfort and well-being. Toast crumbs in bed is one thing. Chicken tikka massala is quite another.

Or perhaps they had got up by then. I don't recall. Either way, I must not dwell for too long on Miss Kensit, whose volatile nature does not knit easily with New Statesman publishing schedules.

By the time you read this she may already have found a wedding venue offering the privacy and dignity she and Liam require. Maybe a ceremony before kick-off at the England-Italy game. Alternatively her past marital history suggests she could have dumped him altogether, in favour of a king prawn vindaloo with Damon out of Blur.

Besides, the really iconic couple for National Marriage Week is Teresa and Rex from New Mexico, who chose to enshrine their marital vows in a 62-page love pact known as court document 95-065775. Under its provisions she is legally bound to have sex with her husband between three and five times a week, to refrain from smoking, to drink only in moderation and to keep the car's petrol tank at least a quarter full.

"Marriage can be successful with just love, but it's much easier with negotiation and planning," says Teresa. Quite. I think this is what Demos had in mind when launching its ingenious proposal to revamp a dying institution.

First-time marriage in Britain is at its lowest since 1889. Our divorce rate went up sixfold between 1961 and 1991. Two in five marriages fail; most in the first ten years. Children suffer, so do their divorced parents, and the whole business costs [pounds]4 billion a year.

What are we to do? One suggestion is a ten-year renewable contract, rather than altar-to-grave marriage vows. (Rex and Teresa, close your ears lest the lawyers' renegotiation fees reach Maxwell trial dimensions.)

Demos's wider idea is more appealing. For couples to write their own vows and design their own rituals would put marriage into a modern cultural framework. …