Today we learn about marriage and weddings in the UK. We talk about what type of marriage is possible in the UK and about some interesting marriage statistics. If you go to the website and look at the full article, you will find a bonus at the end which talks about the sad part of marriage.
So there is a lot of useful material in today's podcast lesson, statistics or using numbers to help us understand a topic is an English-speaking skill you will need to master for work or just English conversation.
Understanding the British culture of marriage is important, especially if you are taking an English language speaking test. So don’t forget to listen to the lesson several times until you have a comfortable understanding all the phrases and vocabulary used.
We tried to automate the podcasts last week as nearly everyone was on holiday and it didn’t go quite as planned. All the podcasts and website posts were fine, but the video posts to Facebook and YouTube didn’t post as planned. So we fixed this as soon as was possible and things should all be back to normal from now on.
cohabit cohabiting gov
Hi and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. We are here to help you become fluent in English. If you have good vocabulary and you’ve learned quite a lot of English, but you’re finding it difficult to become fluent in spoken English, then Adept English is exactly what you need. It’s necessary to improve your listening skills, to improve your level of understanding quite a lot, before you can speak fluently.
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Anyway, let’s do a topic for interest today. Let’s talk about something which is a cultural feature of the UK. One of the reasons why people who come to live in the UK often like it here a lot, is that we are quite a ‘liberal society’. Or at least, we are liberal in comparison with many other countries. Liberal, L-I-B-E-R-A-L means that we’re quite relaxed, we’re open to and OK with different opinions, people making different choices about how they live their life. And marriage and partnership is one of the areas that we generally have quite liberal views on. There’s a lot of freedom to choose.
So the majority of people still choose marriage as the structure within which they want to live, and within which they want to have their children. So marriage is the traditional means of becoming husband and wife – the husband is the man, the wife is the woman. And there’s a ceremony which you have to achieve this and the whole event is called ‘a wedding’, W-E-D-D-I-N-G. And you might talk about your ‘wedding day’. So the word ‘wedding’ refers to the actual day, the ceremony, and the celebration – the meal or whatever you have.
Whereas marriage, M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E means being together. A wedding is a single day, but a marriage, hopefully lasts for many years. And for a long time now, it’s not been necessary for a wedding to have any type of religious part to it in the UK. People do marry in churches or in synagogues or in temples, of course. But people in the UK have been getting married legally, without involvement of any church or any type of religion for many years at what are called ‘registry offices’. This means that the marriage is legal and legally recognised, but has no religious part to it. If you have a registry office wedding, then you’re still husband and wife. And if you want to separate, you still have to get legally divorced.
What also happens a lot in the UK though, is that people form relationships and have children, but never actually get married. In this case, they usually live in a shared property, which...(a house, that means) which they may own jointly, together. We refer to these couples as ‘cohabiting couples’ or ‘cohabitees’ so that’s C-O-H-A-B-I-T-E-E-S. And whereas about 40-50 years ago, this may have been looked upon as a bad thing, most people just accept this as normal now.
So there’s the verb, ‘to cohabit’, which means to live together as a couple. And the people who do this are called ‘cohabitees’. If there are children from such a partnership, the convention, the usual thing is that the children take the surname of the father, but the woman continues to be known by her own name. But there isn’t a rule – sometimes the children of such partnerships will take their mother’s surname. Sometimes people cohabit before they get married. Sometimes people cohabit instead of getting married.
Since 2004, it’s also been possible for same-sex couples to be legally recognised. So that means they are seen by the law as a couple. So in 2004, same-sex couples were legally allowed to form what’s known as a ‘civil partnership’. So same-sex couples have been of course cohabiting for years before this law, but people campaigned for so called ‘gay marriage’. But because of religious people objecting at the time, same-sex couples weren’t allowed to have ‘marriage’ - because the Christian church in the main in the UK didn’t like this idea. So instead civil partnerships arrived in 2004. Legally a civil partnership is the same as a marriage.
A photograph of a man holding a baby you cannot tell the gender of the baby. Used to help explain English grammar she, he and they.
The word ‘partnership’ just means a relationship between two people. It could be a business partnership as well as a romantic partnership. People who are not married tend to call the person they are in a relationship with ‘my partner’. And that’s used whether it’s same-sex or opposite-sex relationship. And the word ‘civil’ here, C-I-V-I-L, just means recognised by the state, recognised in law. So lots of people took advantage of this change in 2004. For example Elton John started a civil partnership, with long-term partner, David Furnish.
Now since 2014 in the UK, we’ve had same-sex marriage in England, Scotland and Wales. So same-sex couples can be legally married, just like a man and a woman. In Northern Ireland, the process of legislating, so of making new laws is still under way at the moment. So the right for same-sex couples to marry is planned to be in force by early 2020. However, there is still a process in the Irish parliament which could block this. Some traditional Irish Christians are still against same-sex marriage, it seems.
And there’s another current development around civil partnerships. Many heterosexual couples – so that means male-female couples – have expressed the opinion that they would like to be able to have civil partnerships, rather than civil partnerships being restricted just to gay or same-sex couples. Some heterosexual couples don’t like the idea of marriage. Many women in the UK would see this as being ‘against their feminist ideals or principles’. But at the same time, these couples do like the idea of their partnership being legally recognised, especially where they either plan to have children or they already have them.
So the following are the options :-
- Anyone can cohabit – whether same-sex or opposite-sex relationship.
- If you’re in an opposite-sex relationship, you can marry and you’ve the choice of just a civil ceremony, with no religious part to it – and this happens in a registry office. Or you can have a religious marriage ceremony of whatever type you like – whatever religion you are.
- But currently if you’re in an opposite-sex relationship, you can’t have a civil partnership – or not yet, until the law is changed. The point is being made – it’s unfair to heterosexual couples not to have an equal option, so I think the law will change.
- If you’re in a same-sex relationship, you can marry or you can have a civil partnership – but marriage is seven times more popular with same-sex couples, than civil partnership is.
So let’s finish off with some interesting statistics. If you’re planning to take a language test, it’s good practice and understand statistics. So here goes.
Since same-sex couples have been able to get married, so that’s from 2014, there have been fewer civil partnerships. And in fact for 2017, there were only 908 civil partnerships carried out, but 1,217 civil partnerships were dissolved, were ended. So more civil partnerships broke up than were formed. However, in 2016 there were 7,019 same-sex marriages – so seven times more same-sex marriages than civil partnerships the following year. And in the period between 2014 and 2017, 13,203 civil partnerships converted to marriage. So Elton John and David Furnish for example converted their civil partnership to a marriage as soon as it was possible.
But marriage rates for opposite-sex marriages are at an all time low. In 1972 say, there were 426,000 marriages and yet in 2016, there were fewer than 250,000.
So people in same-sex relationships seem to want the recognition of marriage, whereas for opposite-sex couples, who have had that choice all along, fewer and fewer are getting married, choosing instead to simply cohabit, but also asking to have civil partnerships. Complicated? I guess it is. But at least you have a lot of choice here in the UK. Hopefully we’ll arrive at a point where whatever type of relationship you’re in, you’ve got the full range of choices!
Anyway, that last bit was complicated, I think wasn’t it, with the statistics? So as normal, listen to this podcast a number of times, until you understand the meaning and maybe you’ll want to practise that last bit a little bit more. Work at it and see how you improve. And yes, good practice to understand statistics, especially if you’re going to be taking a language test.
Anyway enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.