Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Mr. John C Peters (MB 49)

Summary: Implications of a general failure within the community to understand the meaning of marriage and thereby to accept same sex couples partnerships as being a possible equivalent.

As a founder member and Trustee of Time for Families for over 10 years my wife and I have been involved in the development and teaching of core material aimed at improving and preserving relationships between married couples. As part of this teaching experience we found many couples to be ignorant on matters of relationship skills. So much so that there are now courses running in prisons for soon to be released prisoners, the military, for personel returning to their families as well as in the wider community.

1. Our experience in helping couples prepare for marriage has been of a wish to marry before having children. Most couples have been living together for some months if not years but wish to marry to cement their relationship as a unit for bringing up children. The nature of their marriage is often misunderstood as being a contract rather than a covenant entered into for the sake of their children. It becomes evident as one teaches couples that the differences in approach by the sexes develops a home in which children are nurtured through different stages of development by the presence of both sexes having particular roles to play. The complexity of human personality types and the understanding of personal normalites created from their own family background comes to couples as a really unexpected understanding. We have experienced couples close to divorce who have turned their marriages around after one short afternoon of teaching.

2. The upshot of this relates to the Bill now before parlaiment and supported by many MPs on the basis that the community see nothing wrong in redefining marriage to incorporate same sex couples even though a specific relationship within civil partnerships was set up to cater for them. If our experience has been of extreme ignorance within the community as to what it means to embark upon marriage let alone work at and preserve it, is it very surprising that so many people see nothing wrong in opening it to same sex couples and in some countries that have gone down this road, opening it to more than two people in a marriage.

3. Aside from the very undemocratic way that this Bill has been jumped upon our society, there is little understanding of the effect on heterosexual marriage where covenants have been entered into and the underlying hurt now affecting many people. Part of our teaching relates to the fundamental destruction done to relationships by hurt which initiates anger, guilt, condemnation, resentment, anxiety and stress. Together these result in emotional overload showing itself as increased illness, depression, addiction and retreat into such areas as comfort eating and pornography. The underlying cost to our nation of such increases in load on the health service, social services and work absence will in future be laid firmly at the door of such an apparently minor change as redefining marriage. Perhaps MPs should be less fond of keeping their seats by an apparent majority and listen more to the underlying ethos on which our nation has been built.

February 2013

Prepared 27th February 2013