Gerry Harnden writes...

By Gerry Harnden in Community News

THERE are more people aged 65 and over than there are under 20 getting married in Britain today!

This represents a pretty hefty shift in trends over the last half-century or so.

Gone are the days of the shot-gun wedding, when the male relatives of the ‘fallen’ lass made certain that the fellow responsible ‘did the decent thing’ and accompanied her to the altar.

‘Single mums’ and ‘one parent families’ are now as much part of the modern social fabric as couples founded on the traditional ceremony, with knees-up in the Church Hall afterwards, along with no-nonsense elderly aunts knowingly inspecting the bride for a virginally slim waistline.

In pre-permissive times, it was always said that marriage was the price men had to pay for sex, and sex was the price women had to pay for marriage. For good or ill, the world has moved on.

A cynic might argue that the modern young man can have his cake and eat it. No-one blames him for laying the bill for his illicit pleasures on the rest of us.

Girls themselves are often the initiators of the condition they find themselves in. They no longer feel the requirement to seek anyone’s approval for their life-styles. In these economically sound times, there’s no absolute pre-requisite – for the moment, at least – for a named provider for the fruit of a fellow’s loins. The ‘social’ can take care of that. ‘Why not? We pay in, don’t we?’

I remember with affection chaps I knew donkeys’ years ago who fell by the wayside and ended up with their perfectly rounded conquests coming out of the Registrar’s Office down Victoria Avenue. Ah, History!

But, if anything goes in terms of moral or physical engagement with the partners one has had children with, why should there be the concomitant explosion in formal, legal commitment at the other end of the age spectrum?

After all, it’s purely voluntary. There’s no particular religious or judicial imperative involved nowadays. Just a straightforward choice to make a final, lasting public statement about love for someone else.

Personally, I suspect that, despite the rush by the young to be convinced of the idea that freedom of options and lack of limiting boundaries are what matter in life, the basic desire to belong indelibly to another human in this lonely universe is every bit as acute as it was in the past.

Self-restraint and responsible cohabitation may have become ridiculed by contemporary opinion-formers. Indeed, many folk may think they’re being clever and liberated by inventing looser social conventions.

But the time-hallowed spiritual and philosophical dependency on tangible security in this uncertain, vulnerable life is bred in us. Centuries have proved it. It’s just that the time-scales have changed. You can’t eradicate our basic instincts.

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