Fredrick is a 36-year-old white man who works in communications and earns a higher than average salary. His partner Tim is a white 33 year-old who works in finance and earns a higher salary. They met seven years ago over the internet, and were ‘married’ two years ago. After ‘going out’ together for a couple of months, Tim came out to his mother. Her response was to say ‘Go for the weekend and I’ll tell [your dad]’. While Fredrick was out to his parents they had really liked his previous boyfriend which made Tim nervous. Fredrick gets on wonderfully with Tim’s parents. He hasn’t seen his own father for a while now as they never got on. He views Tim’s dad as more of a father.

After a year, Tim moved into Fredrick’s shared rented accommoda­tion. They wanted a space of their own, and decided to buy a house, but that involved Fredrick commuting for five hours a day. As Tim put it, ‘you were depressed and just come home and sleep, and get up and go to work and come home and sleep […] you didn’t have a life’. Fredrick left the job, was unemployed for six months and then started working closer to home. When things were settled he ‘proposed’ to Tim: ‘We’d sort of talked about having a civil partner – or getting married for ages, hadn’t we?’ This was followed by nine months of organising. They found the perfect place for their wedding which they initially thought was unaffordable, but:

Fredrick: somehow managed to convince ourselves that, actually,

we could double the budget to our wedding […]

Tim: (laughs)

Frederik: And so we went for the big wedding. We hired [the venue].

Tim: Took out a few more credit cards (laughs).

Frederik: Took out a few more credit cards.

Tim: And away we went.

There were about 85 people at the ceremony and 150 at the evening celebrations. As far as they are concerned, it was worth the cost because, as Fredrick puts it: ‘traditional weddings are […] very beautiful occasions […] And we wanted ours to be similarly beautiful’. As Tim recounts, ‘We wanted the wow factor really’. The wedding was a turna­round in terms of unexpected responses from some older members of Tim’s family who were initially nervous about going to a same-sex wed­ding but who, according to Fredrick, ‘to this day, say, "Oh, it’s the best wedding I’ve ever been to […] it was so lovely […] It was so romantic’. For Tim it was ‘a perfect day’, for Fredrick ‘It was the best day absolutely ever’. Getting married was the ‘icing on the cake’. It didn’t change how they felt about each other or how they did their relationship, it just ‘Felt right, felt like the next step’ (Fredrick) and ‘it kind of makes it a bit more complete’ (Tim). They recount:

Tim: It’s almost like a process you go through (laughs) of kind of

getting to know someone, going out with them, and kind of like the final, complete step of that is kind of marriage and […] I think that’s just where we got to, wasn’t it?

Frederik: It’s kind of the way society does things, and I think,

because of that, you’re kind of probably slightly condi­tioned to expect that your life process is you meet some­one, you marry them, you grow old together

In addition, Tim remarks, ‘I think there was a little bit in there as well about the equal kind of rights […] officially now we are next of kin for each other […] but certainly wasn’t a major factor’. Despite one of Fredrick’s brothers who has ‘inherited’ his father’s homophobia, he and Tim have had good experiences of being recognised as a couple, especially ‘in those situations of being in hospital or doctors or what­ever, they’ve actually always been very, very good. But […] technically, they could’ve refused one of us entry to see the other one or some­thing’. Dealing with health professionals is something they have much experience of as Fredrick has epilepsy, and Tim was recently ill and then diagnosed with a degenerative disease. For Tim, dealing with the practicalities of the health issues they’ve encountered has ‘brought us closer together’. He recounts:

it’s almost a bridge you’ve kind of crossed […] he had to take me to the toilet and wipe your arse and stuff like that, and you think if somebody’s going to stand by me and do that then actually, I haven’t got many problems in our relationships because you know if he’ll do that for a month to get me back on my feet […] or […] if I’ll sit with him when he’s had a seizure […] there’s a possibility that in five or ten years time I could end up in a wheelchair or something but I don’t feel scared by that as much as I would have done if he wasn’t around [but it is also] those little things that really do make a differ­ence and just make you feel more secure and more comfortable.

For Fredrick, the key to their relationship is love, unlike his parents’ relationship that ‘was based around the fact that my dad had got my mum pregnant’. He feels his approach to his relationships ‘is different purely because I was lucky and found someone I love […] Rather than my mum who was forced into it by circumstance’. In contrast, Tim sees his relationship with Fredrick as ‘reasonably similar’ to his parents’, who are open, communicative and couple-focused. He recounts: ‘I won’t say there’s anything majorly different or anything I particularly saw with my parents that I was like "Uh, no mustn’t do that or must change that" or anything like that’.