Everything I Learned From Australia’s Cooked (and Mandatory) Pre-Marriage Pamphlet

Weird Flex Alert: I’m getting married. I’ve found the love of my life, proposed, and am now spending all of my money on inane flower arrangements — for that is the way of marriage.

Fortunately though, planning a wedding has been rather cruisy. My fiance and I have a venue booked for October and all I need now is a suit. As it stands, I’m currently more stressed about the political grievances of my very real Beyblade Council.

However, this isn’t to say that the whole shebang’s been a vibe. ‘Cause on April 29, my A+ celebrant told me something buckwild. They told me that before I get married, I’d have to thumb through a government-mandated marriage pamphlet. 

I’m not kidding. The government has created a pamphlet that all secular wedders receive called: Happily Ever… Before and After.

According to the Attorney-General’s Department, this pamphlet is a “Document outlining the obligations and consequences of marriage and stating the availability of marriage education and counselling.”

“To be given to couples who have lodged a notice of intended marriage form with an approved marriage celebrant.”

So, instead of pretending I’ve gone through this pamphlet like a normal person would, I’ve decided to instead review it. Happily Ever… Before and After, let’s go.

Page One

Happily Ever… Before and After: Page One
Image: Australian Government

The opening page of Happily Ever might be the weakest segment of this entire pamphlet. The picture is giving Catholic school sex-ed vibes and the text isn’t all that much better. 

“Your celebrant is handing you this document because the decision to marry is one of the biggest decisions a couple can make,” Happily Ever reads. “Marriage is a significant step which will bring a number of changes for you, your spouse, and your family.”

Calm down, Happily Ever. If you’re going to speak to me with that tone, at least acknowledge my hormonal, developing body.

Page Two

Happily Ever… Before and After: Page Two
Image: Australian Government

On page two, things luckily get a tad better. This page lists all of the things you’ll need to do to legitimise your marriage. Additionally, they do so in five easy steps. We stan such organisation.

Page Three

Happily Ever… Before and After: Page Three
Image: Australian Government

Aye, page three is also pretty beaut. This segment goes through all the folks you need to contact before you get married. 

For instance, Happily Ever reads, “When you marry, the amount of taxation you pay may change. It is advisable to contact the Australian Taxation Office, a tax agent, or an accountant before marriage to discuss any tax implications.”

Now, this is some excellent advice. Once I’m married, I’m hoping that I can pay my taxes with sweet vows and homing doves.

Page Four

Warning: This section deals with the topic of domestic violence and could be triggering for some readers.

Happily Ever… Before and After: Page Four
Image: Australian Government

Page four of Happily Ever recommends several important services. They plug marriage education, family counselling, and family dispute resolution. All of these services can help couples navigate the complexities of legally combining their lives.

However, there’s something missing from this section. And my stomach dropped when I got to the end of the page.

Happily Ever doesn’t list any domestic violence resources. It doesn’t say what to do if your relationship turns ugly once you get married. But this happens all the time. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, around 11.8%  of Australian adults have experienced partner-based violence.

If Happily Ever listed some domestic violence resources, it might save some people from suffering. It would also mean that every secular couple about to be wed would have to confront the realities of Australia’s terrible legacy. This pamphlet wouldn’t be an average resource. These pages could challenge our country to change.

If this section brings up any issues for you or anyone you know, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

Overall Thoughts

Ah, Happily Ever… Before and After. Overall, it’s mid. The start’s cringe, the middle’s decent, and the ending’s disappointing at best. 

After thumbing through this marriage pamphlet, I sincerely hope that it gets updated beause our wedders deserve a lot better. Australia deserves a lot better.

I, therefore, give Happily Ever… Before and After a scolding 5/10.

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