The government plans reform of what it describes as the “archaic” law on marriage.
There will no longer be a need for divorcing couples to separate or to allege “fault”.
The justice secretary David Gauke said: “Marriage is a hugely important institution, but when a relationship ends it cannot be right that the law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples. We think that the blame game that currently exists helps nobody”.
Perhaps. But is this another step on the road towards making marriage a slightly more casual thing?
Recently the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, found in favour of an unmarried Northern Ireland mother’s right to claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance after her partner died. Most people will have reacted with sympathy and warmth to the joy that ruling bought her.
Even so, if marriage is ultimately detached from any legal commitments or benefits then one of the last remaining impetuses for tying the knot will be religious conviction. Is that what liberal-minded people really want?
Society has changed radically on social questions. Young people rarely disapprove of same-sex relationships.
You do not have to deplore such changes also to celebrate the fine institution of traditional marriage, which has been the foundation rock of so many families through history. Few couples find sustaining a marriage entirely easy but it is a wonderful thing when they do.