This is a tale of two couples. One, I have known for decades; in fact, I have known the husband for around half a century. The other I "know" only via an internet forum I frequent, albeit for a good few years now. 

You don't need an engagement ring. You don't even need a wedding ring. But there are times when you really do need to be married.

The first couple had a son together before they were married. Then they thought about it. The husband, my old chum, owned the house they lived in. If anything had happened to him, both his partner and his son would have been short on legal recourse. If he had died before his god-mother had left him her house, they'd not have inherited that, either. They married purely for legal considerations. A decade or more later they're both still happy and healthy, thank God, but his wife (as she now is) and their son have legal rights to his estate; and he to hers.

The second couple never married. They lived in a council flat. When he died, just before I wrote his, she was left with nothing: above all, with no rights to carry on living in "their" (his) flat. She was genuinely worried about becoming homeless. 

Never mind romance. Never mind marriage being "old fashioned". Never mind "our love is more important than a piece of paper". Just look at the legal rights conferred by marriage. Don't get hung up on "It shouldn't be like this", because that won't get you anywhere. Whether it should be like this or not, it is. Also, look at it from a rational, legal viewpoint. A court is deciding who should inherit your estate. Anyone can claim to be your heir or assign. Why not give the court a (strong) clue by getting married?

Of course you can worry about a painful divorce. Actually, there's an easy way around that. Marry a decent human being. And before you do, ask yourself which worries you more: being ripped off by someone you think you love, or dropping someone you know you love into deep trouble if you pop your clogs.

Marriage is neither expensive nor difficult. Divorce needn't be expensive or difficult. Leaving someone in the lurch is cheap and easy, but is it what you want to do?

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Words and pictures copyrght (c) Roger Hicks 2016