Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"...to have and to hold" is not so romantic.

That phrase appears on property deeds. Usually older ones, not so often in California, I think maybe more often in Texas. Land or a house is conveyed to the grantee "to have and to hold," with other flowery archaisms like "...the tenements and heriditaments appertaining thereto." The same "..to have and to hold..." phrase that appears in the traditional marriage-ceremony text imported from England. Used in, arguably, a similar sense.

So when letter-writer Kay Curry in this morning's Chronicle identifies marriage as a property transaction, with love a pleasant but unrequired incidental, well, what can I say except that she's right? The law governing formation and maintenance of households is quite old and, in many if not all ways, unsentimental.

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