Comment on (a) marriage

Charles Saatchi’s ‘small domestic’ that went viral has prompted me to put fingers to keyboard to comment on his marriage in particular and marriage in general.

He had a row in public with his wife. Is it any of our business? Only to establish that she is safe, that’s all. We all have a social duty to watch out for one another, otherwise Baby P will go on happening. But we are not entitled to further intrusion … unless they choose to parade the details of their relationship.

I do not know the couple, although I did meet the Saatchi brothers when they started their first ad agency. But I really don’t care to know that he found his wife’s prawn dansak “the most disgusting thing he’d ever eaten”, and that he told her she was an old bag on TV.

I am astonished that this ‘very private couple’ authorised Damian Whitworth to do a double page spread on that row and their relationship in general. It was a report that reflected little credit on the Saatchi couple.

So let me turn to marriage in general. My own take on it is that marriage is a bonding, far more than a contractual relationship. It makes no sense to me when two people marry then continue their individual lives. Surely it’s right that they should merge their lives and modify their behaviour to take account of their spouse?

I’ve seen people hardly miss a beat as they acquired a spouse. For them marriage was simply a change of status, but not of being. They maintain separate bank accounts and speak of their separate personal possessions, and go about their business lives as though still unattached. Such an arrangement merely emphasises their separateness, and possibly even the difference between their earnings.

It almost amounts to “let’s shake hands on the deal and see how long it lasts.” Hardly surprising, then, that nearly half the marriages in this country end in divorce. The root cause must lie in the approach to one another. I cannot see any virtue in a man claiming that he put his hand around his wife’s throat during an argument, but “there was no grip”. The act itself was disrespectful of the most important person in the man’s life.

Respect is one of the essentials of a meaningful relationship. It informs our behaviour, it guides the way we respond to disagreements and problems, it stops us from treating the other person badly. People who disrespect their partners have no class.