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0905 Getting a Marriage License

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 905: Getting a Marriage License.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 905. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website ESLPod.com has some additional courses in business and daily English that you might enjoy. Go to our website and take a look.

This episode is a dialogue about someone who is going to get married and needs to get the official government marriage license. Let's get started.

[start of dialog]

Yves: Help me fill out this application for our marriage license.

Vanessa: Can’t you do it? I’m really busy with work right now. Do as much as you can and ask me if you don’t know something.

Yves: Okay, I’ll try, but I’m reading through the requirements, and it’s a good idea for both of us to know what they are.

Vanessa: Okay, then just read them out loud to me.

Yves: All right. We need to bring identification and it’s best to bring our birth certificates, just in case. We don’t need blood tests and there’s no waiting period in this state. Are you listening?

Vanessa: To every word. Go on.

Yves: For people who have been married before, they’ll have to bring proof of divorce, death, or annulment. Okay, since you’ve been married before, you’ll need to bring a copy of your final divorce decree. Did you hear that?

Vanessa: Yeah, yeah.

Yves: We can choose any qualified officiant and the marriage license is valid for 90 days – that’s 90 days to get married and have the marriage recorded. We only have 90 days after we get the license to get married, got that?

Vanessa: Sure, 90 days. No problem.

Yves: I’m starting to wonder. If you don’t have time to fill out our marriage license application, how will you make time for our wedding?

Vanessa: What? I’m really busy right now. Let’s talk about it later.

Yves: Is it just me, or does this conversation not bode well for our future marriage?

[end of dialog]

Our dialogue begins with Yves – which in English, spelled “Eve” would be a woman's name, but this is the French “Yves” and so it’s a man – Yves says, “Help me fill out this application for our marriage license.” Yves and Vanessa are going to get married and when you get married in the United States, you have to fill out or complete an application. An “application” is a form that you are required to complete with information about yourself. This is an application for a marriage license.

The state governments in the United States each control the giving of marriage licenses. A license is recognition by the government that you are officially married, that you are married according to the law. That's a marriage license. It’s sort of like a license to drive except you don't have to take a test to be married. You probably should have to take a test to be married but you don't. You have to do that only if you want to drive a car.

Vanessa says, “Can't you do it? I'm really busy with work right now. Do as much as you can and just ask me if you don't know something.” Vanessa is very busy, she says, too busy to even help fill out the application for her marriage license. Yves says, “Okay, I'll try, but I'm reading through the requirements and it's a good idea for both of us to know what they are.” So Yves says, “Yes, I understand you're busy, but I think you should do this with me.” Vanessa says, “Okay. Then just read them out loud to me.” “Out loud” means speaking the words so that other people can hear them. The opposite of out loud would be “in silence” or “to yourself” – where you read something but you’re not saying anything as you're reading.

Yves says, “Okay” – actually he says, “All right,” which means okay, “we need to bring identification and it's best to bring our birth certificates just in case.” “Identification” is some document that proves that you are who you say you are. Typically, identification would be a driver’s license or a passport, but for some things, like getting married, some states might require a birth certificate, which says you were born with this name, at this place, on this date.

Yves says, “We don't need blood tests and there is no waiting period in this state.” “Blood tests” are analyses of your blood to determine if you have any diseases or illnesses that can be detected that way. Many states used to require that the man and the woman getting married have a blood test. I think there’s still maybe one state that still requires blood tests. The blood test is not to determine, as some people think, whether these two people are biologically compatible, whether they'll be a good match. That, of course, isn't something you could figure out from a blood test. If you could, we could save a lot of problems but unfortunately, you can't determine the most important things about the person you're getting married to by testing their blood.

Now, blood tests were used to make sure that one of the people getting married didn't have diseases that might harm the other person – specifically, syphilis, which is a sexually transmitted disease, a disease that you get from someone who has the disease by having sexual relations with that person. At one time, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, it was thought that syphilis was a big problem and so we had to have blood tests to make sure that the disease didn't spread, didn't infect more people, but it was decided that it wasn't as big a problem as people thought, and so most of these blood tests in almost every state have been eliminated. Interestingly enough, however, the rate of syphilis has almost doubled in the United States in the last 10 years.

Yves says that, “We don't need blood tests and there is no waiting period in this state.” In some states, you can't just get married on the day that you decide to get married. You can’t go down and decide, “I’m going to get married today.” Instead, you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can get your marriage license.

That's probably a good idea. If you woke up this morning and said, “Hmm, I'm going to get married today,” that's probably not a very good idea. You should probably think about it for at least a few days. As in the case of blood tests, however, most states do not have a waiting period, or at least there are a lot of states that don't. California does not. So, you can fly to California and get married that same day. Pretty exciting! I don't recommend it, but you can do it. States that do have waiting periods typically require that you wait only maybe three to five days – not very long.

Yves says, “Are you listening?” He thinks that Vanessa is not listening to him. Vanessa, however, says “To every word.” I'm listening to every word you say – go on, continue. Yves says, “For people who have been married before, they'll have to bring proof of divorce.” “Proof” is some sort of document or evidence or object that you have that demonstrates that what you are saying is true. If you have been married, and then have legally ended your marriage, have divorced your partner, you have to prove that. You have to prove it typically through something called a “divorce decree” or a “final divorce decree” (decree).

A “final divorce decree” is just a piece of paper from the place where you were divorced, saying, “Yes, in fact, these two people are no longer married.” It's also possible, although it's not very common, that you can end a marriage not with divorce but with “annulment.” “Annulment” (annulment) is when you have a situation where something happens that makes the marriage invalid, that the conditions for marriage are not met.

One of the conditions for a couple to be legally married in most places or at least in many places is that they have sexual relations. If they don't, the marriage can be annulled. Marriage is not legally, technically, a marriage until the couple has sexual relations. Annulments however, are quite rare.

Divorces however, are not rare, and in our story, it looks like Vanessa has been married before and divorced. So, she will need to bring proof of that. Interesting statistic: more second marriages fail than first marriages, and more third marriages fail than second marriages. You would think that people would have experience with marriage the first time, and so the second time would be successful, but it's in fact just the opposite. So, if you've gotten a divorce once, you're much more likely to get a divorce again.

Vanessa doesn't seem to be listening to Yves. Yves says, “Did you hear that? And Vanessa says, “Yeah, yeah.” You can tell she's not interested. Yves goes on, “You can choose any qualified officiant.” An “officiant” (officiant) is usually a religious official – a priest, a minister, a rabbi, an imam – who is recognized as a religious official and can therefore marry you, can say that you are married. You don't have to go to a religious official, however. You can get married by someone from the government, by a judge, for example.

Yves says that, “The marriage license is valid for 90 days.” So, you get your marriage license and then you must use that marriage license, you must actually get married, within 90 days. You have to get married and then go back and return the license to the government to say, “Yes, we got married on this date, by this person.” That's having your marriage recorded. “To be recorded” here means to be registered officially with the government.

Again, Yves asked Vanessa if she's listening if she understands, and Vanessa says, “Sure, no problem.” Yves says, “I'm starting to wonder” – I'm starting to have doubts. “If you don't have time to fill out our marriage license application, how will you make time for our wedding?” “To make time for something” is to schedule something, to take some action to make sure that you have time for something. Your “wedding” of course, is the ceremony in which you get married. It's those few minutes or perhaps hour, during which you have the marriage ceremony.

Vanessa says, “What? I'm really busy right now. Let's talk about it later.” Yves says, “Is it just me, or does this conversation not bode well for our future marriage?” The expression “Is it just me or” is used when we are sort of making a joke, trying to say that “It seems obvious to me but other people do not seem to have noticed or don't seem to think it is obvious.” “Is it just me” means “Am I the only one who thinks this?” What does Yves think? He thinks that this conversation that he has just had with Vanessa does not “bode (bode) well” for his marriage. “To bode well” is to be a good sign. “To not bode well” is to be a bad sign, an indication that something bad is going to happen in the future.

Now let’s listen to our dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialog]

Yves: Help me fill out this application for our marriage license.

Vanessa: Can’t you do it? I’m really busy with work right now. Do as much as you can and ask me if you don’t know something.

Yves: Okay, I’ll try, but I’m reading through the requirements, and it’s a good idea for both of us to know what they are.

Vanessa: Okay, then just read them out loud to me.

Yves: All right. We need to bring identification and it’s best to bring our birth certificates, just in case. We don’t need blood tests and there’s no waiting period in this state. Are you listening?

Vanessa: To every word. Go on.

Yves: For people who have been married before, they’ll have to bring proof of divorce, death, or annulment. Okay, since you’ve been married before, you’ll need to bring a copy of your final divorce decree. Did you hear that?

Vanessa: Yeah, yeah.

Yves: We can choose any qualified officiant and the marriage license is valid for 90 days – that’s 90 days to get married and have the marriage recorded. We only have 90 days after we get the license to get married, got that?

Vanessa: Sure, 90 days. No problem.

Yves: I’m starting to wonder. If you don’t have time to fill out our marriage license application, how will you make time for our wedding?

Vanessa: What? I’m really busy right now. Let’s talk about it later.

Yves: Is it just me, or does this conversation not bode well for our future marriage?

[end of dialog]

She always makes time in her schedule to write some wonderful scripts and so we thank our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
application – a form that must be completed to make an official request, often submitted with additional documentation

* Did you have to pay a fee when you submitted your college applications?

marriage license – official, legal permission to get married in a particular state

* Many states will not grant a marriage license to anyone who is less than 18 years old unless the parents have given permission.

to read (something) out loud – to read something while speaking the words so that others can hear them

* Bernice read her sister’s letter out loud so that the rest of the family could hear the latest news.

identification – documents that prove who one is, usually with one’s full name, birth date, and photograph

* Can you accept this school ID card as identification for cashing a check, or do you need to see a driver’s license?

birth certificate – an official document showing when and where someone was born, and what name that person was given

* Kareem’s birth certificate shows that he was born in Cleveland, Ohio.

blood test – a chemical analysis of a small amount of a person’s blood, usually used to see if a person has a disease or to find out the condition of a person’s health

* The doctor ordered a blood test to check Nolan’s cholesterol levels.

waiting period – a certain number of days or weeks that must pass between one’s request and when it is granted, usually to give people time to think about something carefully and change their mind

* Does this state have a waiting period for people who want to buy guns?

proof – a document or physical object that shows or demonstrates that something is true, without any doubt

* Everyone thinks the man is guilty, but the prosecutor hasn’t shown any proof.

annulment – the invalidation or cancelling of a marriage, as if that marriage had never happened

* The Catholic Church does not permit divorce, but it does allow annulments under certain conditions.

final divorce decree – a legal document in which a court states that a marriage has officially ended

* Even when Olivia held the final divorce decree in her hands, she still had a hard time accepting that Jacques was no longer her husband.

officiant – a person who performs a religious service or leads a religious ceremony

* Who was the officiant at the funeral?

valid – legitimate; true and applying to the situation; legally applicable; not expiring until

* Is this a valid diploma, or has it been falsified?

to record – to officially submit and register a document with a government agency

* Which agency is responsible for recording property deeds with the sale of a house?

to make time for – to set aside time to do something; to intentionally use one’s time for a particular purpose, especially when one has many other things to do

* No matter how busy Felipe is at work, he always makes time for his children.

wedding – a marriage ceremony

* It was a beautiful wedding, with lovely music and flowers.

is it just me, or – a phrase used humorously to state what one is feeling when one thinks it seems obvious, but perhaps other people have not noticed

* Is it just me, or is it hard to understand and appreciate modern art?

to not bode well – to be a bad sign; to be an indicator that something bad will happen in the future or that something will not progress well

* Her test scores are mostly C’s and D’s, which doesn’t bode well for her course grade.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why will they need to bring their birth certificates?
a) So that they can show how many children they have.
b) So that they can prove where they were born.
c) So that they can prove who they are.

2. Why does Yves ask, “How will you make time for our wedding?”
a) Because she has meetings scheduled on the day of the wedding.
b) Because she arrives late to almost everything.
c) Because she thinks work is more important than the application for the marriage license.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
out loud

The phrase “to read out loud,” in this podcast, means to read something while speaking the words so that others can hear them: “The teacher asked each student to read two paragraphs out loud.” The phrase “to laugh out loud” means to laugh with a very loud voice because something was too funny to remain quiet: “This book is so funny, it made me laugh out loud!” The phrase “to think out loud” means to mumble and talk about one’s ideas without expecting other people to listen or react: “Sorry, I was just thinking out loud. I didn’t realize it was bothering you.” Finally, the phrase “for crying out loud” is used when someone is angry, frustrated, and impatient: “For crying out loud, who taught that driver how to drive?”

to make time

In this podcast, the phrase “to make time” means to set aside time to do something and to intentionally use one’s time for a particular purpose: “How do you make time for volunteer work when your job takes up at least 50 hours per week?” The phrase “to take (one’s) time” means to do something slowly or calmly, without rushing and without pressure: “Take your time and think before answering each question.” The phrase “to keep up with the times” means to change as society changes or to adapt as the situation changes: “Sometimes the biggest businesses struggle to keep up with the times, while smaller competitors are more flexible.” Finally, the phrase “to keep time” means to maintain a steady rhythm or beat during a song: “The conductor struggled to keep time through the most dramatic parts of the symphony.”

Culture Note
Types of Wedding Officiants

A “marriage officiant” is the individual who “officiates” (leads and officially approves of) a wedding. In religious weddings, the officiant is usually a member of the “clergy,” or the people who are “ordained” (authorized by the church) to perform religious duties. In “secular” (not religious) weddings, the officiant can be an authorized government official.

But some “brides” (women on their wedding day) and “grooms” (men on their wedding day) want their officiant to be a close friend or family member. The laws on this “vary” (are different) by state. In California, for example, individuals can be “deputized” (authorized) to perform marriages even if they are not members of the clergy. These people need to complete some basic instruction, fill out the application form, and pay a fee. Then they are “sworn in as” (asked to take an oath or official promise as) a Deputy Marriage Commissioner with the authority to marry one couple in one ceremony on one day.

In some other states, the individual does have to be ordained to officiate a wedding. The process for being ordained can be “lengthy” (taking a lot of time) in many churches, but some churches have “sprung up” (appeared quickly) primarily to offer an easy and quick way for people to be ordained. For some ordination programs, the only requirement is to fill out some forms online and then receive a certificate in the mail.

During the ceremony, the officiant has some flexibility regarding what is said, but usually there is at least one section of very specific “wording” (the exact words that are spoken) that must be present for the marriage to be “valid” (considered official or true). But these requirements are generally “minor” (not very difficult to comply with), so the couple and the officiant can be creative in planning the ceremony.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c