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Brown house part 7

Divorce wasn’t an option on Arctus 3. When you married here, you married for life. This wasn’t a religious decree, because all religions had gotten out of the marriage business centuries back. Rather than have to marry couples they didn’t agree with or risk alienating half their congregation, they all gave up the concept of marriage to the government, who was happy to marry anyone over the age of 21 who had enough money for the fee. To avoid the unpleasant untangling nature of divorce (sadly just as likely if you had married in a church tradition) they also insisted on six month long premarital counseling course, which necessitated a psych evaluation, credit check, three letters of reference, criminal background check, and an extensive class on parenting skills. If the government and the couple agreed that marriage was a good option after all of this they sealed the deal in a simple no-fault ceremony that was a binding contract. Sure, some still got married in a religious building, for old time’s sake or to appease their more traditional family, but the grand fetes were a thing of the past, now forbidden by sumptuary laws.

Rather than poor couples feeling left out, or middle-class couples going into debt to prove they weren’t poor, everybody’s wedding looked more or less the same. It made things saner. Couples had more money to start their lives with, rather than starting in debt.

Even death was equalized. Once people saw how freeing it was to not have to keep up with the Jonesevitches when it came to paying for a wedding, they started to look at everything differently. Religion got out of the burying business shortly after they got out of the marrying business. The government finally started to regulate the funeral industry and immediately started to question the wild and extravagant expenses that it had insisted upon.

Weddings and funerals are more closely connected than most people realize. Both services are about 20 minutes long. What you are in is inordinately more costly than the length of time it is seen. Why should a wedding dress or a coffin cost half a year’s salary, when both are viewed for at most an hour, and then never seen again?

The ground was too hard for burial on Arctus 3 so nobody got buried there anyway. Some practiced Tibetan or Zoroastrian style “air burial”, leaving the body for the wild animals to consume. Some built funeral pyres and set their loved ones bodies ablaze. Nobody suffered under the delusion that the body was going to be used again. In most cases that would have been a horror beyond mentioning, what with how they died. Who wants to resurrect with a body eaten up by disease or decay, or one mutilated by accident or war?

Part of getting married here was filling out a will and writing down funeral plans. Nothing was left to chance. Far too many in the past had said they’ll “do it later” – and later came sooner than they’d realized. They thought that by postponing making funeral plans for themselves, they were postponing death itself. Making each partner fill out these forms was another method of weeding out those who were not quite ready to marry. What with the extreme difficulty in getting a divorce, it was important to do this right. Sometimes another year of waiting was enough to allow one or both partners to mature. Sometimes it allowed an opportunity to reflect upon the pairing and decide if it was really viable. Sometimes what seems like forever at 23 looks like “what was I thinking” at 43.


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