Marriage and Unions
Until Death Do Us Part
The very first marriage was believed to have occurred around 4370 years ago in 2350 BC.
Before these formal unions occurred, families were loosely organised groups of as many as 30 people with several male leaders who shared multiple women.
Marriage started off as a way of creating alliances and binding women to men to guarantee a man’s children were biological heirs. Women were considered the property of their husband and their role was to obey and to serve their spouse. Many marriages were considered miserable for the wives as a result, with little to no power or rights. It wasn’t until the 14th century that people began marrying for love, and it was only in the 8th century, with the introduction of church blessings, that a wife’s life improved somewhat, however the man was still considered the head of the household, his wife expected to defer to their wishes.
When women won the right to vote in 1920 the institution of marriage began a drastic transformation.
Nowadays we, for the most part, marry for love and both members of the union hold equal standing within the relationship. There are some parts of the world where this isn’t the case; some marriages born from necessity and circumstance, but I want to know why many choose to marry their significant other.
Overwhelmingly the number one reason those I spoke to said they wish to eventually marry, or said that they did marry, was for the ceremony. It wasn’t until I asked the question and challenged what I felt were standard, unthought through answers, that most were even able to identify this however.
‘Because I love them’, ‘Because we want kids one day’, ‘Because I can’t imagine being with anyone else’, ‘Because I want to spend the rest of my life with them’. My challenge was ‘But you can still love them, have children together, not be with anyone else and spend the rest of your life with them without marriage, so why marry?’
It almost always boiled down to the ceremony, the party, with a few citing the legal benefits that went with being married, and a couple saying that it was essential due to religious beliefs too. Family and friends gathered to celebrate their love, dressing up and looking gorgeous, unashamedly consuming copious amounts of alcohol with loved ones and, of course, the sparkly rings! The title ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ a lot found quite appealing too. A public announcement, meeting societal expectations.
Until recently I believed I wanted to marry, or re marry I should say. I was raised to believe that my goals in life should be to obtain an education, settle within a career, get married, buy a house, and create a family. My parents had this expectation of me so when my mum was overcome by her illness and passed away, I was determined to achieve what I thought she wanted me to. My children have also expressed their desire to see me partnered with someone amazing and eventually marry them. My reasons were solely to meet these expectations. That isn’t what I want. I don't want to marry, now or ever. Accepting this has been amazingly freeing, and communicating this to those close to me has seen the pressure dissipate.
Why do we seek a mate? Why do we seek to unite with one other person and blend our world with theirs? (Obviously doesn’t apply to those who live a polygamist lifestyle or any other lifestyle that deviates from the more common union of only two people, monogamy)
Again, the majority of responses to this were very similar. Someone we can spend time with, share experiences with, speak to when a bad day has been had, seek comfort and support in when life throws a curve ball, make love to and celebrate successes with.
I was only asking partnered people these questions, people who had found their person, so I asked some single friends and acquaintances if they were actively looking for a partner, and if so why. I was very surprised at some of the replies I received.
‘I am happy being single and I don’t think that will change for me any time soon.’
‘I have been so hurt in the past I don’t want to go through it ever again’
‘I don’t want or need someone in my life in that capacity. I find some of those things in friends and some in family. That’s enough for me’
‘I’m open to finding a boyfriend/girlfriend, but I’m not actively seeking it. If it’s meant to happen for me, it will’
‘Yes, I am, do you know anyone?’
‘Yeah, are you asking me out on a date?’
‘Yes, because I want to be loved and to love in return. It’s the best feeling in the world.’ (Obviously they haven’t put a USB in the right way the first time)
Whether formalised by a marriage ceremony or not, some of us are driven to find ‘The One’ and spend their life with them. Some of us, not as many, find the notion abhorrent. Some are so obsessed with not identifying as ‘single’ that the pursuit of a partner becomes all-consuming and often results in poor decisions being made out of desperation.
Whatever life you choose to live, be it one of solitude or one of companionship, there is no right or wrong.
So go out there and live the archetypal crazy cat lady life if thats what you want, or go find Mr/Mrs right, or maybe even a few of them at once! You do you, Boo.