The Civil Partnership
The photos of their big day showed them smiling and happy. Overjoyed, it seemed, to be underway as an item. The weather was good and the flowers looked great. The happy couple were surrounded by well-wishers. Like many young couples they moved in with each other to save money. Just like so many others they also have found the transition difficult. It being their first shared abode it has been an on-going struggle to separate their individual roles – neither being willing to be portrayed as subservient to the other. In that respect it was a very modern love story. A love story perhaps only made possible by changes that the previous Labour Government had wrought. After all, did they not introduce the law to make Civil Partnerships legal?
They separately and together drew up plans, just as all the marriage guidance books told them to. The plans included their aspirations for the future and how these could be achieved. It is not easy to put someones dreams ahead of your own. Particular attention was paid to where those aspirations crossed each other and therefore could easily be agreed on. However many areas, where no agreement could be reached, were quietly swept under the carpet to another, as yet undetermined, time.
Within months friends began to notice the cracks developing. It started, they say, with the vows, which were substantially altered. One objected to the word obey being used whilst the other insisted that mutual respect was a given and did not need to be said out loud. There were many, many other objections – too numerous to mention here – and the days seemed to go on forever without resolution. Many objections seemed petty and made for delays in getting things done. In the end a kind of pre-nup was agreed so that no misunderstandings could take place. A lot of their friends became disillusioned at this stage and have never been able to forgive them for getting involved with each other in the first place.
There are many relationships that flounder due to their respective backgrounds being very different, however this was not the case here. Both were from wealthy families and had very privileged upbringings. Both attended first class schools, colleges and universities. Indeed, in certain respects, the similarities were striking. Their families were involved in banking and medicine at the highest levels, making them, if not exactly upper-crust aristocracy, then certainly top-tier middle class with some very prominent figures in their familial histories.
For a while the couple could fool each other and the general public but soon it became apparent that each saw things quite differently. Their meetings became less frequent; often this was characterised by friends, family and colleagues as being just part of their respective jobs – roles which sometimes saw each of them in different hemispheres. Indeed the friends, family and colleagues are themselves taking sides.
In time there were a number of public discussions that have led to disagreements and a bending of the wording of the pre-nup that allowed each to disagree but somehow make it seem that they didn’t. At present, it seems, they don’t even speak to each other any more. In public, where once they could talk the same talk and walk the same walk, their paths are diverging.
How long will this marriage last? Perhaps only Dave and Nick have the answer.
prose © copyright Brian Shirra 2012 / Image Link: Guardian Newspaper 2nd October 2010 article by Simon Head (Reuters 2010)