Is marriage the answer?

  Kate B 23:10 27 Feb 2007

I've been rather uncomfortable about the Tory promise to bring back tax breaks for married couples: it implies that unmarried or single parents or same-sex parents are somehow less deserving than married couples. It also fails to acknowledge that there are many bad marriages in which children suffer and that a marriage certificate is no guarantee of good parents.

I was pleased to see Alan Johnson saying that there must be no bias in family policy click here and click here

What do you think?

  rdave13 23:51 27 Feb 2007

Speaking from personal experience then no, tax breaks for married couples can't be the answer. Was married for twelve years and the last three were pure hell and deceit. My first two children were picking this up and I know we all suffered. Divorce followed and a few years later met a wonderful woman who's been my partner for more than my married time and we're still happy and neither of us feel the need to marry.We have three offsprings and we're content with being "engaged".

  dwaynedibbly 00:00 28 Feb 2007

On the face of it, its a good move by the Tories. To try and install some of those old fashioned values we hear so much about, but which many would argue, are missing in todays society.
You are right Kate B, there are some horrendous examples of marriages, in which the children are dragged up, witnessing domstic violence on a regular basis, and believing that is the norm.
You can`t help but feel its another try by Cameron and Co. to win a few votes. Or at least get middle England back on board, pre election.
I do agree, there are a lot of single mums and dads out there struggling to bring up their children. More often than not, they are on the receiving end of a lot of bad press.
I`ve been married twenty years. We have both chosen not to have kids. So being somewhat mercenary I would gladly accept any tax incentives the government want to pass my way.
However I`d rather see a stable, productive younger generation with a sense of purpose, than a return to the ways of the self serving eighties.

  Kate B 00:07 28 Feb 2007

I'd like to see a stable and productive younger generation, too - and that doesn't depend on a marriage certificate.

Everyone likes tax breaks and I don't blame you for your view, but I can't see that using them to discriminate against unmarried people - it doesn't just affect parents - can be a good thing.

  Forum Editor 00:08 28 Feb 2007

isn't magically created during the marriage ceremony, it's either there or it isn't, and if it isn't the relationship will almost certainly fail.

It's often said, in defence of formal marriage, that the act of participation in the ceremony/ritual makes people realise what they're doing, and that once in a marriage people are less inclined to be frivolous about breaking it. If you look back to times when marriage was sacrosanct, and there was a serious stigma attached to divorce, it's pretty obvious that many people - particularly women - must have lived lives of unrelieved desperation. I wouldn't want a return to that situation.

I know that lots of people blame the decline in the number of formal marriages for many of society's ills, but I'm not convinced. Being married isn't going to stop someone taking drugs, or dumping rubbish in the local wood, or smashing the glass in a bus-shelter. Good parents will be good parents, regardless of the fact that they might not have a marriage certificate in a drawer, and there are plenty of married bad parents.

What's behind the Conservative's promise is their election platform plank of the return to 'family values', whatever they are. I have a sense that someone dreamed up this family values idea in an attempt to see the party in some kind of pre-war light, with mother and father sitting around the fire - him with pipe and newspaper, her with perm and knitting, the two children (a boy and a girl) smiling as they read their annuals and drink their Ovaltine - "you can stay up until 8 o'clock, but only if you get into your pyjamas".

Family values must be viewed subjectively - they haven't gone away, they've changed. They may not have changed for the better, and by all means let's examine ways to rectify the situation, but please don't try to tell me that getting married does the trick, because it doesn't.

  Jak_1 00:09 28 Feb 2007

Why should married people get tax breaks when single people don't?
What is so special that they should get preferential treatment over single people or couples who choose not to get married but be a family?
We all pay the same rate of tax according to what we earn so why a difference because of a bit of paper?

An emphatic No to tax breaks just because someone is married.

  TOPCAT® 00:17 28 Feb 2007

the 'married man's allowance' It was payed to the hubby because not that many women went to work in those days. Stayed in the home and managed both it and children.

If I remember rightly all was well for quite a few years until it became known by the then government that some hubbys were boozing and or betting the week's money away and changes were made to the system.

Around that time only the hubby's earnings were taken into account for a mortgage application, even if the wife worked as well. I well remember several occasions when I barely met the financial conditions required.

It's difficult for me, with fourty eight years of happy marriage, to imagine living with an unmarried woman. In the past there certainly was monetary incentives for the married couples, but with today's complexity in social living it's hard to see how David Cameron can put his ideas on the subject into fruition. In my opinion there has to be fairness all round on any tax breaks, but I must admit it would be good to see more couples making the right choice and tying the knot.

On the other side of the coin there's far too many divorces and splits these days and I can't for the life of me understand why this is. Is it the stress and pace of modern life? Or is it that lasting love is too shallow for some? I'm afraid I am left stumped for the answer to that. TC.

  dwaynedibbly 00:18 28 Feb 2007

FE as succinct as ever.
Totally agree with your sentiment re Conservative values.
Kate B you`re right, a marriage certificate is no guarantee of good parent.
What is annoying though, is the way politicians use these "values" as a vote winning tool.
It plays on peoples fears, beliefs and perceptions of todays society in which we live.
Jak_1. Perhaps we need to look at some way of giving tax relief to competent parents, or parent.
Quite how that could be implemented though, any ideas??

  Kate B 00:26 28 Feb 2007

Nice post, TC, and congratulations on your 48 years, that's impressive.

I think today that you can't say tying the knot is "the right choice". It's the right choice for some couples but it's not a better choice or the right choice: it's their choice.

Divorces and relationships failing is sad but it's often better all round once the trauma is out of the way. My parents split up when I was 12 and it was the best thing for them. Another beloved friend of mine is divorced and his "new" partner of five years is so much more the right person for him.

  TOPCAT® 00:38 28 Feb 2007

When I say "making the right choice and tying the knot" I meant, of course, making the right choice of partner before entering into a marriage. TC.

  Jak_1 00:41 28 Feb 2007

From a singletons viewpoint, I have seen a lot of marriages fail because they married for the wrong reasons! Trouble is those breakups is that children were involved and things got very messy, each trying to take from the other with scant regard for the children! No amount of tax breaks will change that. Family values! Hm!
People look at family values through rose tinted spectacles at the past.
After WW2 tax allowances were brought in for married couples in order to help rebuild a depleted population, that however is not the case anymore. There is no justification for tax incentives anymore just because two people are married, no matter what gender etc.
As far as family values go, the degeneration of the education system, the police, the social services etc etc etc have a lot to answer for!

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