You are on page 1of 80

Good afternoon Guests,

I am here to speak on a very relevant social issue, what should be - THE


RIGHT AGE FOR MARRIAGE FOR BOYS AND GIRLS. Intellectual
discourse on the right age for marriage has had religious philosophers,
economists, political scientists, psychologists, physicians and social
scientists address the issue and debate over the right age for marriage; when
both the mind and the body are adequately ready for marriage.
Demographic studies have shown varying opinions. While in some countries
the right age for marriage could stretch anywhere form 18 to 45 for women
and 21 to 55 for men, within the United States itself, in some states, the law
permits minors to marry with parental consent; in India, where social
structures denied equalism to the genders, social reformers succeeded in
urging the governmental machinery in putting brakes on the minimal age for
marriage among girls and boys. The state in our country fixes the minimum
age at 18 for girls and 21 for boys. Western society is more complacent
towards gender roles and married partners respect each others’ freedom and
personal liberty. Life moves on the philosophy "one lives for one's self". No
big sanctity is attached to marriage and one can come out of it if he feels that
it is a burden for his personal growth and liberty. Thus age is not a big issue
that is why it is common to find the bride being older than the groom. It is
all about legal sanction for man-woman relationship. I believe great
responsibility comes with this commitment, including a consistent, earnest
effort to maintain the marriage and its foundations of mutual love,
admiration, trust, support and respect. 1

Oriental social structures are more integrated and the ‘family’ and
familial relations are central to the existential being of the married couple. In
India, marriage is seen as bringing a new member; a stranger very often into
the family. It is the girl who has to make a lot of compromises to suit her to
the new environment i.e. the boy's family. The older the girl, the stronger is
her individuality. Age coupled with education gives her a stronger sense of
the self; she tends to have a strong opinion about almost everything and is
not easily malleable. She expects her partner to respect her freedom. It is
relative in the case of men too. If he is conservative and has faith in family
values he would do well to get married early in life with a young girl. Often,
getting married at an early age will help them understand one another and
establish better ties.

On the lighter side, it would do well to add that there cannot be any
EXPIRY DATE or a ‘best before' date associated with marriage! The right
age to get married is when one decides to marry! What's more important is
that whatever the age you get married, you should be happy.

When I look back two generations, at those who were older to me, I see a
social structure largely governed by the interests and the dictates of the doyens
of society. In a way, both family and culture steered the destinies of people;
at least, that was the scene in India. When I look two generations ahead of me,
at the youth of today, the structure has undergone a metamorphosis. There was
a different standard yesterday, there are different standards regarding the right
age for marriage today.

Centuries ago, civilized societies recognized and acknowledged the most


basic instincts of all - i.e., the need for companionship, and founded an
honorable institution known as marriage. Experience has shown that this
institution can help navigate the complex ocean of life full of conflicts,
questions, concerns, temptations, joys, sorrows, ups and downs. Marriage is a
state of accommodation of two individuals, an accommodation of the will to
live together, to rear together, to set up a home together and to plan a future
for ‘their’ family, to spend the rest of ‘their’ lives together, through thick and
thin. Such an accommodation involves sacrifice and selflessness. The
business of everyday living throws up several challenges before the wary
couple who jointly combat adverse forces that attempt to disrupt their normal
life. This calls for maturity on the part of the householders- the partners in
marriage. That then is the main crux of our issue- though the law, world over
has a definitive stand on the right age for marriage for a girl and a boy;
philosophically and ethically, the right age for marriage is the age the partners
reach maturity; in other words, they should be mature enough to steer and
handle life effectively and as responsible citizens of society. However, before
we begin with the debate on this important social issue as this, an issue which
actually serves as a foundation of society; let us consider the facts about
marriage: marriages that are governed by religions, class, community;
arranged marriages, love marriages, the roles and responsibilities of the
partners, the relation between marriage and the state, the role of sex and
procreation in marriage, and the gendered nature of spousal roles.

There are libraries of humour on marriage. Allow me to quote some:


Socrates, that great philosopher had said,

By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get
a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.
Marriage is an adventure, like going to war. - G. K. Chesterton. And
then there are innumerable witty quotes of the great Bernard Shaw on
marriage who described marriage as an institution that brings together two
people "under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive,
and most transient of passions. They are required to swear that they will
remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously
until death do them part."

However much men may say they all suffer through marriage, most of us
think so little about it that we regard it as a fixed part of the order of nature, like
gravitation. Except for this error, which may be regarded as constant, we use
the word with reckless looseness, meaning a dozen different things by it, and
yet always assuming that to a respectable man it can have only one meaning.

“MARRIAGE is a term for a social institution. As such it may be


defined as a relation of one or more men to one or more women who is
recognized by custom or law and involves certain rights and duties both
in the case of the parties entering the union and in the case of the
children born of it. These rights and duties vary among different peoples,
yet there are certain factors that remain constant; something which they
have in common. Marriage allows special rights to a husband and wife.
It is an economic institution, which may in various ways affect the
proprietary rights of the parties. It is the husband's duty, so far as it is
possible and necessary; to support his wife and children, but it may also
be their duty to work for him.” 2
So while marriage is addressed both as a social and an economic
institution, it is hailed as a sacrament, a holy union for the performance of
religious duties accompanied with solemn religious rites with Hindus while
among the Muslims, it is more a contract for the purposes of procreation and
legitimating of children and the regulation of social life in the interests of
society. It is a union not only of a man and his wife, but also a union of two
families. As a general rule, nearly every man endeavours to marry when he
has reached the age of puberty, and practically every woman gets married.
Marriage practices are very diverse across cultures, may take many forms,
and are often formalized by a wedding.3 In his book The History of Human
Marriage (1921), Edward Westermarck defined marriage as "a more or less
durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of
propagation till after the birth of the offspring."4

This brings us to the very crucial question of the right age of a boy
and a girl for marriage. In the highly competitive global world of today there
are changes, both slow and radical as far as the existential truth of marriage
is concerned. Hindu ancestors set aside some guidelines to make sure that
the institution is a permanent one capable of not only bringing happiness to
two young people but also providing a delicate balance so that the family
enjoys the fullness of life within the framework of what they called Dharma,
the Hindu code of right conduct. If there is one prevailing wish that
husbands and wives have for their marriage, it is to be close companions for
life. “While many men and women know that love is essential for such a
lifelong bond, they often don't realize that love without close friendship is
only a hormonal illusion. One cannot desire another person over the long
haul without really being best friends with that person."5 Even Yudhishtira,
the eldest son of King Pandu and Queen Kunti, in the great Hindu epic
Mahabharata, refers to the bond of companionship between a husband and a
wife about 4000 years ago. In an episode known as Yaksha Prashna in the
Aranya Parva of that great epic, a divine being challenged the prince in exile
to answer some questions, satisfactory answers to which may help restore
the lives of his “dead” brothers.6 One of the questions the Yaksha asked
Yudhishtira was "kimsvin mitram grhesatah?" i.e. Who is the friend of a
householder? To which the prince answered: "bhaaryaa mitram grhesatah,"
i.e., the friend of a householder is his spouse.7 According to Hindus,
therefore, the basis for marriage is friendship and such friendship is the
understanding, the promise and the commitment that unites a man and a
woman. With such authority, there is then no question about the role of a
woman, her importance, her position in this equation that binds them
together.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati, in his book ‘Satyarth Prakash’ (Light of


Truth) writes that the best time for marriage for a girl is from sixteen to
twenty-four years and for a man, from twenty-five to forty-eight years. The
marriage of a girl of sixteen to a man of twenty-five years was called
‘inferior marriage’; a girl of eighteen or twenty to a man of thirty-five or
forty is ‘ medium marriage’, of a girl of twenty-four to a man of forty-eight
is called ‘superior marriage.’ Even Manu in his ‘Manusmriti’ says-“Let a
maid wait for three years after she has begun to menstruate then let her
chose for herself a husband, who is her equal.” Historically, marriage has
come to mean an institution that is bound by restrictions; restrictions such as
age, race, social status, consanguinity, and now, gender, are placed on
marriage by society for reasons of benefiting the children, passing on
healthy genes, maintaining cultural values, or because of prejudice and fear.
As genes get carried over and children inherit traits, it is very essential that
the married partners show utmost responsibility in their new duties. The
genes that bear physiological properties also have a latent spiritual and
religious component to them. Hindus call it the evolution of Sanskars: or in
other words, the purification of ‘man’, ‘vaani’ and ‘shareer’ that mould a
person’s character and spell her integrity. Marriage in itself is the
performance of a ‘sanskar’ which calls for right abilities in the spouses for
an ‘ideal marriage’. Hence, it is equally important to standardize the age,
abilities and duties of the parties to a marriage. The ‘Atharvaveda’ has
handed down certain prescriptions as for as the qualifications of bride and a
groom are concerned. It says that a bride should be ‘shudhha’, ‘pavitra’ and
‘pujaniya’; and the groom should be ‘gyani’ and ‘vidvan’. It implies then,
that a boy and a girl who possess these attributes are truly ‘able’ and are
ready for marriage. What is most important is that whether the spouses
consider their marriage a ‘sacrament’ as do all Hindus; or whether they
consider it a contract, as it is with the Muslims and the Christians, they must
bear in mind that marriage brings in marital duties. They assume new roles
as guardians of society as they contribute towards the social, economic,
cultural, spiritual, educational and religious needs of the society as they rear
and bring new life into the world. Christians believe that marriage is a gift
from God and regard it as a sacrament, a contract, a sacred institution. Islam
also commends marriage, with the age of marriage being whenever the
individuals feel ready, financially and emotionally. From an Islamic law
perspective, the minimum requirements and responsibilities in a Muslim
marriage are that the groom provides living expenses (housing, clothing,
food, maintenance) to the bride, and in return, the bride's main responsibility
is raising children to be proper Muslims. All other rights and responsibilities
are to be decided between the husband and wife, and may even be included
as stipulations in the marriage contract before the marriage actually takes
place, so long as they do not go against the minimum requirements of the
marriage. Hinduism sees marriage as a sacred duty that entails both religious
and social obligations.

The age of marriage has changed drastically in the 21st century


among women. A study indicates that the single rates for women under 25
years rose from 14% in the 1960’s to 42% in the 1960’s.8 This suggests that
either women have found a viable alternative to marriage before that age or
that circumstances are forcing them not to marry by that age. Globalization
and the process of industrialization have affected the marriage process.
Socioeconomic studies show how social factors coalesce with economic
factors to cause the delay in marriage timing. Economic theorists state that
women’s increase in economic independence has led to a reduction in
marriage desirability.9 Women today forego household economic functions
for careers that supply them with income security, hence reducing their
dependence on the men for their daily needs. Independence is the reason for
the increase in delayed marriages and likewise to the increase of the
marriage age of men and women. Earlier, the partners performed duties that
were special to their nature: implying that while the woman was assigned
domestic and child rearing chores, the man would be in charge of finding an
income that would supply the family needs. As women today take new
economic roles as a result of industrialization they tend to become less
specialized in household activities and men also have begun to take up new
household roles. Both theories hold true. While the earlier sex role
segregation was a functional necessity in the stability of marriage; of the
man looking after the market economy and the lady balancing the family
economy; it was good as it helped prevent disruptive competition between a
husband and his wife. Married men and women were viewed as potential
trading partners with the man focusing on market work while the women
were concerned with home production. This specialization provides major
gains to marriage for each partner, but it is reduced when incomes fall and
the woman is forced to participate in the market production. This leads to
strain in marriages and consequently divorce and also a delay factor in single
couples with women now tending to focus on the more economic aspects of
her life. Men too have changed attitudes to the marriage age. Young men
tend to wait until they have established a career path before they get married.
This largely because of their role as the provider in the family and the
challenges associated with becoming the head of the household. This has led
to suicides, divorce and many men absconding their duties due to the
pressure of maintaining an economically sound household. In the industrial
age the gains for marriage for men are declining because of increased
participation of women in the labour market. This increases the delay in age
of marriage for men too as they find it hard to find a woman who can
support his own agenda for his career by providing for his needs at home.

Then there is a growing trend among working men and women to cohabit
before they marry. A lot of young men and women working together or
otherwise don’t marry but live-in. With some cohabitation has become a
stage in the marriage process. This process of cohabitation shows that
women’s economic independence is not the only answer to explaining why
women are now marrying much later. Live-in relationships or cohabitation
as a social occurrence also reduces the cost of search and also reduces the
risk of promiscuity while pooling resources creating a more stable economic
environment that can lead to successful marriages. Therefore cohabitation
and the rise in delayed marriages is decreasing the rate of marital instability
due to the stable nature of partners who tend to have delayed their marriage
as opposed to those who marry young and consequently face greater stress
due to lower capacities to deal with household challenges like providing for
the family health, financial and social needs. While this has become a way of
life in large parts of the western world, the situation is different among
African American women and some South Asian women who for one
reason or another find themselves as single parents and have to find their
own economic independence in order to survive.

Another issue in the delay of marriage among boys and girls is the
increase in the process of selection and socialization that goes in the search
of a marriage partner. today. The conventional system of assortative mating
that happens in arranged marriages where one is uncertain about the
rightness of one’s marriage partner is gradually being replaced by a more
liberal system where both the partners are given time and opportunity to
chose their partners. This also leads to delay in marriage. Social and
economic scientists affirm that one’s ‘work’ has now such an influence in
structuring one’s life that any career uncertainties directly affect behaviour
and attitudes towards marriage formation. This results in women not feeling
ready to marry until they have achieved some career goals. They also desire
a perfect partner with characteristics that can provide her the best economic
comforts. At most times, such working women who have high financial
expectations of their spouse reveal a latent need to be economically
dependent on men even though they may have their own working careers. If
the cost of the search for a suitable partner is high then it might be better to
delay ones marriage until it becomes less economically sound.

Education too plays a role in increasing the efficiency of the search


process. Educated people tend to be aware of more important characteristics
that they need to look out for during the search as opposed to the young
couples who start dating at an early age. Hence it would be better for people
to delay the marriage selection process until they are confident that they
have made an educated decision which will contribute to greater stability in
marriage.

Age has a strong biological and sociological effect on fertility. It is


age which can help couple make decisions with respect to conception or
termination of fertility. Age also affects the choice of contraceptive method
and the vigilance with which contraception is practiced. Women who marry
too early remain small in stature, weak, pale, emaciated, and more or less
miserable. Women should not marry too young and take upon themselves
the responsibility, by producing a weak and feeble generation of children. It
is better not to consummate a marriage until a full development of body and
mind has taken place. A young woman of twenty-one to twenty-five and a
young man of twenty-three to twenty-eight are considered the right age in
order to produce an intelligent and healthy offspring. "First make the tree
good, and then shall the fruit be good also." Delayed too long in either sex
too does not give them the energy to play and grow with the children. The
longer the woman postpones childbearing, the greater is the likelihood that
she will get involved in other ego-involved activities that consume time and
energy.

Today, young men in India feel thirties is the right age to get
married and start a family. A recent international survey found 79 per cent of
the Indian youths, who were questioned, vouching for thirties as the right
time to tie the knot, higher than the global figure of 77 per cent. "The new
generation is more career-oriented and is reluctant to assume other
responsibilities before their career objectives are fulfilled," said Sarang
Panchal, Executive Director, and South Asia, of AC Nielsen which
conducted the survey.

Marriage is no longer a life goal for a large number of Indian youth


who are now more career-oriented. Studies have revealed that only 53 per
cent of respondents in India consider marriage a life goal, one of the lowest
in the Asia Pacific region. However, for 61 per cent people across the globe,
marriage is a major goal in life, with Indonesians topping the chart with 87
per cent giving utmost importance to it. A survey was conducted on one
hundred and sixty 18-24 year old students attending 4 colleges of Dharwad
city of Karnataka in India to examine their opinion concerning the ideal
marriage age and the required age difference between spouses. Females
tended to prefer a higher marriage age for males than did the males (26.5 vs.
25.5), but the difference was not significant. Rural males believed the ideal
marriage age for females to be 20 years whereas rural females believed it to
be 22 years (p .05). Urban females also believed it to be 22 years and urban
males reported 21 years. These results indicated that both males and females
prefer to marry after they have completed their education. The advantages of
schooling including improved thinking and decision-making abilities allow
them to wisely allocate family resources and decide upon an ideal family
size. The social transformations in Asia have been significant. The norm for
female age at marriage has risen from 15 years to 17-18 years in south Asia,
and from 18 years to 24 years and older in east Asia. Men's marriage age has
also risen but not as much. The number of singles is rising and expected to
continue to rise. Examples are given of marriage age changes for Nepal and
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea, and regional totals.
Southeast Asian countries experienced less dramatic changes, and changes
primarily in the 20-24 year old group (from 30% to 74% of single women).
Change for men has been less regular and with less magnitude. In Southeast
Asia, the rise in marriage age for men has risen only 1-2 years compared
with women. The trend for never marrying is on the increase, particularly for
men in Japan. Women not ever marrying are increasing in Thailand,
Bangladesh, and Hong Kong. Never marrying is common in urban or
educated populations, i.e., Singapore, Thailand, and Philippines.10

Well, I believe it is a very relative issue...as the institution of marriage calls


for tremendous responsibility on the part of the boy and the girl, depending
on the individual's maturity, the step should be taken. And I think, in the
urban areas the age has stretched both for girls and boys...more so for girls
as they wish to acquire a level of social security that comes with economic
independence, and that differs again with the different types of cities-A,B,C
types .In the A cities the girls push the age greater and likewise. For the less
educated and the naive, it may be alright to set these limits of 18 and 21 ,
and this more so to put brakes on child marriages which are still rampant in
certain parts of the country.

Marriage and Domestic Partnership


First published Sat Jul 11, 2009

Marriage, meaning the institution regulating sex, reproduction, and family life, is a route
into classical philosophical issues such as the good and the scope of individual choice, as
well as itself raising distinctive philosophical questions. Political philosophers have taken
the organization of sex and reproduction to be essential to the health of the state, and
moral philosophers have debated whether marriage has a special moral status and relation
to the human good. Philosophers have also disputed the underlying moral and legal
rationales for the structure of marriage, with implications for questions such as the
content of its moral obligations and the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Feminist
philosophers have seen marriage as playing a crucial role in women's oppression and thus
a central topic of justice. In this area philosophy courts public debate: in 1940, Bertrand
Russell's appointment to an academic post was withdrawn on the grounds that the liberal
views expressed in Marriage and Morals made him morally unfit for such a post. Today,
debate over same-sex marriage is highly charged. Unlike many other contemporary issues
sparking such wide interest, there is a long tradition of philosophical thought on
marriage.

Philosophical debate concerning marriage extends to what marriage, fundamentally, is;


therefore, Section 1 examines its definition. Section 2 sets out the historical development
of the philosophy of marriage, which shapes today's debates. Many of the ethical
positions on marriage can be understood as divided on the question of whether marriage
should be defined contractually by the spouses or by its institutional purpose, and they
further divide on whether that purpose necessarily includes procreation or may be limited
to the marital love relationship. Section 3 taxonomizes ethical views of marriage
accordingly. Section 4 will examine rival political understandings of marriage law and its
rationale. Discussion of marriage has played a central role in feminist philosophy;
Section 5 will outline the foremost critiques of the institution.

• 1. Defining Marriage
• 2. Understanding Marriage: Historical Orientation
• 3. Marriage and Morals
o 3.1 Contractual Views
o 3.2 Institutional Views
• 4. The Politics of Marriage
o 4.1 Marriage and Legal Contract
o 4.2 The Rationale of Marriage Law
o 4.3 Same-Sex Marriage
• 5. Marriage and Oppression
o 5.1 Feminist Approaches
o 5.2 The Queer Critique
• Bibliography
o Contemporary Works
o Historical Works (first published prior to 1950)
• Other Internet Resources
• Related Entries

1. Defining Marriage
‘Marriage’ can refer to a legal contract and civil status, a religious rite, and a social
practice, all of which vary by legal jurisdiction, religious doctrine, and culture. History
shows considerable variation in marital practices: polygyny has been widely practiced,
some societies have approved of extra-marital sex and, arguably, recognized same-sex
marriages. More fundamentally, while the contemporary Western ideal of marriage
involves a relationship of love, friendship, or companionship, marriage historically
functioned primarily as an economic and political unit used to create kinship bonds,
control inheritance, and share resources and labor. Indeed, some ancients and
medievalists discouraged ‘excessive’ love in marriage. The ‘love revolution’ in marriage
dates popularly to the 18th century (Coontz 2006, Part 3).

The philosophy of marriage has been the subject of debate ever since man entered into
the contract. There have been studies on the relation between marriage and the state, the
role of sex and procreation in marriage, and the gendered nature of spousal roles, ideas of
marriage as an economic or procreative unit, a religious sacrament, a contractual
association, and a relationship of mutual support.

In his depiction of the ideal state, Plato (427-347 BCE) described a form of marriage
contrasting greatly with actual marriage practices of his time. He argued that, just as male
and female watchdogs perform the same duties, men and women should work together,
and, among Guardians, ‘wives and children [should be held] in common’ (The Republic,
ca. 375-370 BCE, 423e-424a).

Aristotle (384-322 BCE) sharply criticized this proposal as unworkable. On his view,
Plato errs in assuming that the natural love for one's own family can be transferred to all
fellow-citizens. The state arises from component parts, beginning with the natural
procreative union of male and female. It is thus a state of families rather than a family
state, and its dependence on the functioning of individual households makes marriage
essential to political theory (Politics, 1264b). The Aristotelian idea that the stability of
society depends on the marital family influenced Hegel, Rawls, and Sandel, among others
Christian philosophers believed that only a husband and a wife bound by marriage can
procreate.

Similarly, defending marital hierarchy posed a problem for John Locke (1632-1704).
Locke believed that marriage, like the state, rests on consent, not natural hierarchy;
marriage is a “voluntary compact.”

Kant and Hegel attempted to show that the distinctive features of marriage could be
explained and justified by guiding normative principles. In contrast, early feminists
argued that marital hierarchy was simply an unjust remnant of a pre-modern era. John
Stuart Mill (1806-1873) argued that women's subordination within marriage originated in
physical force—an anomalous holdover of the ‘law of the strongest’.

Marxists also saw marriage as originating in ancient


exercises of force and as continuing to contribute to
the exploitation of women.
The idea that marriage has a special moral status and entails fixed moral obligations is
widespread—and philosophically controversial. Marriage is a legal contract, although an
anomalous one (see 4.1); as the idea of it as a contract has taken hold, questions have
arisen as to how far its obligations should be subject to individual choice. The contractual
view of marriage implies that spouses can choose marital obligations to suit their
interests. However, to some, the value of marriage consists precisely in the limitations it
sets on individual choice in the service of a greater good: thus, Hegel commented that
arranged marriage is the most ethical form of marriage because it subordinates personal
choice to the institution. The institutional view holds that the purpose of the institution
defines its obligations, taking precedence over spouses' desires, either, in the two most
prominent forms, in the service of a procreative union, or to protect spousal love. These
theories have implications for the moral status of extra-marital sex and divorce, as well as
the point and purpose of marriage.

4. The Politics of Marriage


In political philosophy, discussions of marriage law invoke diverse considerations,
reflecting the various theoretical orientations of contributors to the debate. The ensuing
discussion will set forth the main considerations brought to bear in arguments concerning
the legal structure of marriage.

4.1 Marriage and Legal Contract

Marriage is a legal contract, but it has long been recognized to be an anomalous one.
Until the 1970's in the U.S., marriage law restricted divorce and defined the terms of
marriage on the basis of gender. Marking a shift towards greater alignment of marriage
with contractual principles of individualization, marriage law no longer imposes gender-
specific obligations, it allows pre-nuptial property agreements, and it permits easier exit
through no-fault divorce. But marriage remains (at least in U.S. federal law) an
anomalous contract: “there is no written document, each party gives up its right to self-
protection, the terms of the contract cannot be re-negotiated, neither party need
understand its terms, it must be between two and only two people, and these two people
must be one man and one woman” (Kymlicka 1991, 88).

Proponents of the contractualization, or privatization, of marriage have argued that


marriage should be brought further into line with the contractual paradigm. A default
assumption for some liberals, as for libertarians, is that competent adults should be
legally permitted to choose the terms of their interaction. In a society characterized by
freedom of contract, restrictions on entry to or exit from marriage, or the content of its
legal obligations, appear to be an illiberal anomaly. Full contractualization would imply
that there should be no law of marriage at all—marriage officiation would be left to
religions or private organizations, with the state enforcing whatever private contracts
individuals make and otherwise not interfering (Vanderheiden 1999, Sunstein and Thaler
2008). The many legal implications of marriage for benefit entitlements, inheritance,
taxation, and so on, can also be seen as a form of state interference in private choice. By
conferring these benefits, as well as merely recognizing marriage as a legal status, the
state encourages the relationships thereby formalized (Waldron 1988-89, 1149-1152).[2]

Marriage is the basis for legal discrimination in a number of contexts; such


discrimination requires justification, as does the resource allocation involved in providing
marital benefits (Cave 2004, Vanderheiden 1999). In the absence of such justification,
providing benefits through marriage may treat the unmarried unjustly, as their exclusion
from such benefits would then be arbitrary (Card 1996). Thus, there is an onus to provide
a rationale justifying such resource allocations and legal discrimination on the basis of
marriage, as well as for restricting marriage in ways that other contracts are not restricted.

Before exploring some common rationales, it is worth noting that critics of the social
contract model of the state and of freedom of contract have used the example of marriage
against contractual principles. First, Marxists have argued that freedom of contract is
compatible with exploitation and oppression—and Marxist feminists have taken marriage
as a special example, arguing against contractualizing it on these grounds (Pateman 1988,
162-188). Such points, as we will see, suggest the need for rules governing property
division on divorce. Second, communitarians have argued that contractual relations are
inferior to those characterized by trust and affection—again, using marriage as a special
example (Sandel 1982, 31-35, cf. Hegel 1821, §75, §161A). This objection applies not
only to contractualizing marriage, but more generally, to treating it as a case for
application of principles of justice: the concern is that a rights-based perspective will
undermine the morally superior affection between family members, importing
considerations of individual desert which alienate family members from their previous
unselfish identification with the whole (Sandel 1982, 31-35). However, although
marriages are not merely an exchange of rights, spousal rights protect spouses' interests
when affection fails; given the existence of abuse and economic inequality within
marriage, these rights are especially important for protecting individuals within, and after,
marriage (Kleingeld 1998, Shanley 2004, 3-30, Waldron 1988).

4.2 The Rationale of Marriage Law

As noted, a rationale must be given for marriage law which explains the restrictions
placed on entry and exit, the allocation of resources to marriage, and legal discrimination
on the basis of it. The next section will examine gender restrictions on entry; this section
will examine reasons for recognizing marriage in law at all, allocating resources to it, and
constraining property division on divorce.

A first reason for recognizing marriage should be set aside. This is that the monogamous
heterosexual family unit is a natural, pre-political structure which the state must respect
in the form in which it finds it (Morse 2006; cf. new natural lawyers). But, whatever the
natural reproductive unit may be, marriage law, as legislation, is constrained by
principles of justice constraining legislation. Within most contemporary political
philosophy, the naturalness of a given practice is irrelevant; indeed, in no area other than
the family is it proposed that law should follow nature (with the possible exception of
laws regarding suicide). Finally, such objections must answer to feminist concerns that
excluding the family unit from principles of justice, allowing natural affection to regulate
it, has facilitated inequality and abuse within it (see section 5).

Let us then begin with the question of why marriage should be recognized in law at all.
One answer is that legal recognition conveys the state's endorsement, guiding individuals
into a valuable form of life (George 2000). A second is that legal recognition is necessary
to maintain and protect social support for the institution, a valuable form of life which
would otherwise erode (Raz 1986, 162, 392-3; Scruton 1986, 356-361; see discussion in
Freeman 1999; Waldron 1988-89). But this prompts the question as to why this form of
life is valuable.

It is sometimes argued that traditions, having stood the test of time, have proved their
value. Not only is marriage itself such a tradition, but through its child-rearing role it can
pass on other traditions (Sommers 1989, Scruton 1986, 356-361, cf. Devlin 1965,
Chapter 4). But many marital traditions—coverture, gender-structured legal duties,
marital rape exemptions, inter-racial marriage bans—have been unjust. Tradition
provides at best a prima facie reason for legislation which may be overridden by
considerations of justice. Further, in a diverse society, there are many competing
traditions, amongst which this rationale fails to choose (Bolte 1998, Garrett 2008).

An account of the value of a particular form of marriage itself (and not just qua tradition)
is needed. One thought is that monogamous marriage encourages the sexual self-control
needed for health and happiness; another is that it encourages the goods of love and
intimacy found in committed relationships. State support for monogamous marriage, by
providing incentives to enter marital commitments, thus helps people lead better lives
(e.g. Macedo 1995, 286). However, this approach faces objections. First, the explanation
in terms of emotional goods underdetermines the institution to be supported: other
relationships, such as friendships, embody emotional goods. Second, claims about the
value of sexual self-control are controversial; objectors might argue that polygamy,
polyamory, or promiscuity are equally good options (see 5.2). There is a further problem
with this justification, which speaks to a division within liberal thought. Some liberals
embrace neutrality, the view that the state should not base law on controversial judgments
about valuable lives. To such neutral liberals, this class of rationales, which appeal to
controversial value judgments about sex and love, must be excluded (Rawls 1997, 779).

However, it is widely accepted that the state should protect children. If two-parent
families benefit children, incentives to marry may be justified as promoting two-parent
families and hence children's welfare. One benefit of two-parent families is economic:
there is a correlation between single motherhood and poverty. The second benefit is
emotional: children appear to benefit from having two parents (Galston 1991, 283-288).
(Moreover, some argue that gender complementarity in parenting benefits children; but
empirical evidence does not seem to support this [Lee 2008, Nussbaum 1999, 205].) One
objection is that marriage is an ineffective child anti-poverty plan. For one thing, this
account assumes that incentives to marry will lead a significant number of parents who
would not otherwise have married to marry. But marriage and child-rearing have
increasingly diverged despite incentives to marry. Second, this approach does not address
the many children outside marriages and in poor two-parent families. Child poverty could
be addressed more efficiently through direct anti-child-poverty programs rather than the
indirect strategy of marriage (Cave 2004; Vanderheiden 1999; Young 1995). Moreover,
there is controversy over the psychological effects of single parenthood, particularly over
the causality underlying certain correlations: for instance, are children of divorce
unhappier due to divorce itself, or to the high-conflict marriage preceding it? (Young
1995)

A related, but distinct, line of thought invokes the alleged psychological effects of two-
parent families to argue that marriage benefits society by promoting good citizenship and
state stability (Galston 1991, 283-288, cf. Bloom 1987, 118-121). This depends on the
empirical case (as we have seen, a contested one) that children of single parents face
psychological and economic hurdles which threaten their capacity to acquire the virtues
of citizenship. Moreover, if economic dependence produces power inequality within
marriage, then Mill's ‘school of injustice’ objection applies—an institution teaching
injustice is likely to undermine the virtues of citizenship (Okin 1994, Young 1995).

Finally, a rationale for restricting the terms of exit from marriage (but not for supporting
it as a form of life) is the protection of women and children on divorce. Women in
gender-structured marriages, particularly if they have children, tend to become
economically vulnerable. Statistically, married women are more likely than their
husbands to work in less well-paid part-time work, or to give up paid work entirely,
especially to meet the demands of child-rearing. Thus, following divorce, women are
likely to have a reduced standard of living, even to enter poverty. Because these patterns
of choice within marriages lead to inequalities between men and women, property
division on divorce is a matter of equality or equal opportunity, and so a just law of
divorce is essential to gender justice (Okin 1989, Chapters 7 and 8; Rawls 1997, 787-794;
Shanley 2004, 3-30; Waldron 1988, and see 5.1). However, it can still be asked why a
law recognizing marriage as such should be necessary, as opposed to default rules
governing property distribution when such gender-structured relationships end (Sunstein
and Thaler 2008). Indeed, placing these restrictions only on marriage, as opposed to
enacting general default rules, may make marriage less attractive, especially to men, and
hence be counter-productive, leaving women more vulnerable.

The preceding two rationales are both weakened by the diminished social role of
marriage; changing legal and social norms undermine its effectiveness as a policy tool. In
the 20th century, marriage was beset by a “perfect storm”: the expectation that it should be
emotionally fulfilling, women's liberation, and effective contraception (Coontz 2006,
Chapter 16). Legally, exit from marriage has become relatively easy since the ‘no-fault
divorce revolution’ of the 1970's. Moreover, cohabitation and child-rearing increasingly
take place outside marriage. This reflects the end of laws against unmarried cohabitation
and legal discrimination against children on grounds of ‘illegitimacy’, as well as
diminishing social stigmas against such behavior. Given such significant changes,
marriage is at best an indirect strategy for achieving goals such as protecting women or
children (Cave 2004, Sunstein and Thaler 2008, Vanderheiden 1999).

In addition, its divisive nature has prompted arguments for abolishing marriage as a legal
category. Marriage has religious associations in part responsible for public controversy
over same-sex marriage. If marriage is essentially religious, then legal recognition of it
arguably violates state neutrality or even religious freedom. One solution is
contractualization, leaving marriage to churches and private organizations; another is to
replace civil marriage entirely with a secular status such as civil union or domestic
partnership, which could serve the purpose of identifying significant others for benefit
entitlements, visiting rights, and so on. This would allow equal treatment of same-sex
relationships while reducing controversy, avoiding non-neutrality, and respecting the
autonomy of religious organizations by not compelling them to recognize same-sex
marriage (Sunstein and Thaler 2008, Torcello 2008). However, neither solution would
resolve the conflict between religious autonomy and equality for same-sex relationships.
Privatization does not solve this conflict so long as religious organizations are involved in
civil society—for example, as employers or benefit providers. The question is whether
religious autonomy would allow them, in such roles, to exclude same-sex civil unions
from benefits. Such exclusion could be defended as a matter of religious autonomy; but it
could also be objected to as unjust discrimination—as it would be if, for example, equal
treatment were denied to inter-racial marriages.

There is a further problem with the proposal to replace marriage with civil unions on
grounds of neutrality. Civil unions, if they carry legal benefits similar to marriage, would
still involve a legal discrimination requiring justification. In the absence of compelling
reason for such discrimination, liberty considerations suggest the state should cease
recognizing or supporting intimate relationships entirely; rather than favoring particular
arrangements for love, intimacy, and sex, it should allow consenting adults to choose
those they prefer (Vanderheiden 1999, cf. Sunstein and Thaler 2008, Calhoun 2005).
4.3 Same-Sex Marriage

The proposal to replace marriage entirely with civil unions or domestic partnerships
differs from the ‘compromise’ proposal of a two-tier marriage law: marriage for opposite-
sex couples only, and civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex and, if they
choose, opposite-sex couples. The compromise proposal grants some of the benefits of
marriage without ceding the title (or indeed, as usually proposed, all the benefits) of
marriage to same-sex couples. This position does not fully answer arguments for same-
sex marriage.

Many arguments for same-sex marriage invoke liberal principles of justice such as equal
treatment, equal opportunity, and neutrality. Marriage provides benefits which are denied
to same-sex couples on the basis of their orientation; if the function of marriage is the
legal recognition of loving, or “voluntary intimate,” relationships, the exclusion of same-
sex relationships appears arbitrary and unjustly discriminatory (Wellington 1995, 13).
Same-sex relationships are relevantly similar to heterosexual relationships recognized as
marriages, yet the state denies gays and lesbians access to the benefits of marriage, hence
treating them unequally (Mohr 2005, Rajczi 2008). Further, arguments in support of such
discrimination seem to depend on controversial moral claims regarding homosexuality of
the sort excluded by neutrality (Wellington 1995, Schaff 2004, Wedgwood 1999).

To see why a two-tier solution fails to address these arguments, we must consider what
benefits marriage provides. There are tangible benefits such as eligibility for health
insurance and pensions, privacy rights, immigration eligibility, and hospital visiting
rights (see Mohr 2005, Chapter 3). Crucially, however, there is also an important benefit
of legal, and indirectly social, recognition of a relationship as marriage. The status of
marriage itself confers legitimacy and invokes social support. The two-tier system does
not provide equal treatment because it does not confer on same-sex relationships the
status associated with marriage.

In addition, some philosophers have argued that excluding gays and lesbians from
marriage is central to gay and lesbian oppression, making them ‘second-class citizens’
and underlying social discrimination against them. Marriage is central to concepts of
good citizenship, and so exclusion from it displaces gays and lesbians from full and equal
citizenship: “being fit for marriage is intimately bound up with our cultural conception of
what it means to be a citizen … because marriage is culturally conceived as playing a
uniquely foundational role in sustaining civil society” (Calhoun 2000, 108). From this
perspective, the ‘separate-but-equal’ category of civil unions retains the harmful legal
symbol of inferiority (Card 2007, Mohr 2005, 89, Calhoun 2000, Chapter 5; cf. Bolte
1998, Stivers and Valls 2007).

However, if marriage is essentially heterosexual, excluding same-sex couples is not


unequal treatment; same-sex relationships simply do not qualify as marriages. One case
for the essential heterosexuality of marriage invokes linguistic definition: marriage is by
definition heterosexual, just as a bachelor is by definition an unmarried man (Stainton,
cited in Mercier 2001). But this confuses meaning and reference. Past applications of a
term need not yield necessary and sufficient criteria for applying it: ‘marriage’, like
‘citizen’, may be extended to new cases without thereby changing its meaning (Mercier
2001). As noted above, appeal to past definition begs the question of what the legal
definition should be (Stivers and Valls 2007).

A normative argument for the essential heterosexuality of marriage appeals to its


purpose: reproduction in a naturally procreative unit (see 3.2.a). But marriage does not
require that spouses be able to procreate naturally, or that they intend to do so at all.
Further, married couples adopt and reproduce using donated gametes, rather than
procreating ‘naturally’. Nor do proponents of this objection to same-sex marriage
generally suggest that entry to marriage should be restricted by excluding those unable to
procreate without third-party assistance, or not intending to do so.

Indeed, as the existence of intentionally childless married couples suggests, marriage has
purposes other than child-rearing—notably, fostering a committed relationship (Mohr
2005; Wellington 1995, Bolte 1998; Wedgwood 1999). This point suggests a second
defense of same-sex marriage: exclusive marital commitments are goods which the state
should promote amongst same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples (Macedo 1995,
Freeman 1999, 12). As noted above, such rationales come into tension with liberal
neutrality; further controversy regarding them will be discussed below (5.2).

A second objection made to same-sex marriage is that its proponents have no principled
reason to oppose legalizing polygamy (e.g. Finnis 1997; see Corvino 2005). One
response differentiates the two by citing possible harmful effects for women found in
male-headed polygyny, but not in same-sex marriage (e.g. Wedgwood 1999). Another
response is to bite the bullet: a liberal state should not choose amongst the various ways
(compatible with justice) individuals wish to organize sex and intimacy. Thus, the state
should recognize a diversity of marital relationships—including polygamy (Calhoun
2005, Mahoney 2008).

Some arguments against same-sex marriage rely on judgments that same-sex sexual
activity is impermissible. As noted above, the soundness of these arguments aside,
neutrality excludes appeal to such contested moral views (Rawls 1997, 779, Schaff 2004,
Wedgwood 1999). However, some arguments against same-sex marriage have invoked
neutrality, on the grounds that legalizing same-sex marriage would force some citizens to
tolerate what they find morally abhorrent (Jordan 1995; cf. Torcello 2008). But this
reasoning seems to imply, absurdly, that mixed-race marriage, where that is the subject of
controversy, should not be legalized. A rights claim to equal treatment (if such a claim
can support same-sex marriage) trumps offense caused to those who disagree; the state is
not required to be neutral in matters of justice (Beyer 2002; Boonin 1999; Schaff 2004).

5. Marriage and Oppression


Marriage historically played a central role in women's oppression, meaning economic and
political disempowerment and limitation of opportunities. Until the late 19th century, the
doctrine of coverture (in English and U.S. law) suspended a wife's legal personality on
marriage, ‘covering’ it with that of her husband, removing her rights to own property,
make a will, earn her own money, make contracts, or leave her husband, and giving her
little recourse against physical abuse. Well into the 20th century, legislatures continued to
impose gendered legal roles within marriage (known as ‘head and master laws’), to
exempt rape within marriage from criminal prosecution, and to allow—or impose—
professional bars on married women (Coontz 2006, 238; Cronan 1973; Kleingeld 1998).
John Stuart Mill compared wives' condition under coverture to slavery (see section 1);
while the late 20th century U.S. saw gender-neutrality in legal marital responsibilities and
an end to the marital rape exemption, criticisms of marriage as oppressive persist.
Contemporary feminist attention to marriage is focused on spousal abuse—indeed, some
U.S. states still exempt spouses from sexual battery charges (Posner and Silbaugh 1996)
—, the gendered division of labor in marriage, and the effects of marriage on women's
economic opportunities and power.

While Mill and Engels saw the establishment of monogamous marriage as an ancient
defeat of the female sex, Aquinas, Kant, and many others have seen monogamy as a
victory for women, securing for them faithful partners, protection, and material support.
So Kant writes that “skepticism on this topic [marriage] is bound to have bad
consequences for the whole feminine sex, because this sex would be degraded to a mere
means for satisfying the desire of the other sex, which, however, can easily result in
boredom and unfaithfulness.—Woman becomes free by marriage; man loses his freedom
by it” (Kant 1798, 210-211, [309]). However, as a historical thesis about the origin of
marriage, the idea that monogamy provided women with needed material support has
been debunked. In early hunting-gathering societies, female foraging likely provided
more than male hunting, child-care was arranged communally, and, rather than a single
male providing for his female partner, survival required a much larger group (Coontz
2006, 37-38). As a thesis about the protection of women by their male partners, the
incidence of rape and violence by male partners themselves must be taken into account
(e.g., in the contemporary U.S. context, Tjaden and Thoennes 2000). And as a thesis
about sex difference, evolutionary ‘just-so’ stories purporting to show that women are
naturally more monogamous have been challenged by feminist philosophers of biology
(Tuana 2004).

Marriage law has also been a tool of racial oppression. The majority of American states at
one time prohibited inter-racial marriage; the Supreme Court struck down such laws in
1967 (Wallenstein 2002, 253-254). Anti-miscegenation law did not prevent actual
miscegenation, but it excluded women of color and their children from the benefits of
marriage. It was also a potent symbol of alleged racial difference. Furthermore, African-
American marriage patterns were shaped by slavery. Slaves could not legally marry, and
slave couples and their children were frequently separated. Contemporary philosophers of
race argue that marriage is still implicated in systemic racism (Collins 1998). For
example, historical conditions have led to practices of shared child-rearing in African-
American communities. Some theories of marriage imply that such child-rearing
practices are inferior to the marital family. Theorists of racial oppression argue that such
practices should be recognized as a valuable alternative, and, moreover, that law which
excludes such practices from benefits accorded to marriage may be racially unjust (hooks
1984, Chapter 10; Vanderheiden 1999; cf. Collins 1998, Card 1996).

5.1 Feminist Approaches

A major theme in feminist political philosophy has been the exclusion of the marital
family from justice. Political philosophy has tended to relegate the inner workings of the
family to natural hierarchy or affection (Okin 1979, 1989). Historically, this meant that
the private sphere of marriage, to which women were confined, was also the zone of state
non-interference, so that what happened to women there was not subject to norms of
justice. Gradually, law and political philosophy have come to recognize that equal rights
and liberties should be upheld within the private sphere as without, but many political
philosophers still resist applying principles of justice directly within the private sphere.
However, feminists argue that today gender-structured marriage contributes to, or is even
the mainstay of, women's economic inequality and disempowerment, and that justice
must therefore regulate its terms—even, perhaps, to the point of interfering with
voluntary marital relations.

As noted above, one persistent rationale for excluding the family from norms of justice is
that its natural relations of affection and trust are superior to merely just relations and
likely to be threatened by construing the family in terms of justice (Hegel 1821, §75,
§161A; Sandel 1982, 31-35). But abuse within marriage and inequality on dissolution are
significant problems, the gravity of which should, according to critics, outweigh these
finer virtues; rights within marriage protect spouses when affection fails (Waldron 1988).
Moreover, it is not clear that affection and justice must conflict; a commitment to treating
one's spouse justly could be part of marital love (Kleingeld 1998). Finally, marriage is
part of the basic structure of society, and thus, at least within Rawlsian liberalism, is
subject to principles of justice. This does not determine, however, how principles of
justice should constrain marriage; the default liberal presumption is that marriage, as a
voluntary association, should be ordered as spouses choose—so long as these choices do
not lead to injustice (Rawls 1997, 792). We will return to this below.

Marriage is a focus of feminist concern due to its effects on women's life chances.
Continuing disadvantage accruing to women in marriage has been widely documented,
and in some feminist analyses, undergirds gender inequality (rival accounts place greater
emphasis on sexual objectification or workplace discrimination). Wives, even those who
work full-time outside the home, perform more housework than husbands—this ‘second
shift’ affecting their workplace competitiveness. The social assignment of primary
responsibility for childcare to women, combined with the difficulty of combining
childcare with paid work, also undermine the workplace competitiveness of women with
children (Maushart 2001, Okin 1989, Chapter 7). The gendered division of labor and the
fact that ‘women's work’ is less well-paid than men's together make it more likely that
married women, rather than their husbands, will downgrade their careers, choose part-
time work, or stay home to facilitate child-rearing or when the spouses' careers conflict.
These choices make women “vulnerable by marriage”: economic dependence, and
dependence on marriage for benefits such as health insurance, fosters power inequality
and makes exit difficult, in turn facilitating abuse (Okin 1989, Chapter 7, Card 1996).

As discussed in 4.2, rationales of equality or equal opportunity are given for addressing
economic inequalities arising within marriage through divorce law (Okin 1989, Chapters
7 and 8; Shanley 2004, 3-30, Rawls 1997, 787-794). However, divorce law does not
address non-economic sources of power imbalances (such as gender role socialization)
within on-going marriages, nor does it address the systemic way in which such
inequalities arise. Equal opportunity seems to require changing social norms related to
marriage in ways which divorce law does not. First, the gendered division of labor within
ongoing marriages is costly for women (Kleingeld 1998, Maushart 2001). Second, power
imbalances within marriage limit girls' expectations and teach children to accept
gendered inequality (Okin 1989, Chapter 7, Okin 1994). Third, anticipation of marriage
affects women's investment in their earning ability before marriage (Okin 1989, Chapter
7).

Such social norms could be addressed through education or through media campaigns
promoting the equitable division of housework. Legal measures such as requiring all
marital income to be held equally could encourage power equality within marriage (Okin
1989, Chapter 8). However, state interference in on-going marriages arguably conflicts
with spouses' liberties (Rawls 1997, 787-794). This raises a theoretical problem for
feminism: economic equality for women seems to require interfering with voluntary
choices within marriage and social expectations surrounding it, but most liberal theory
would protect such choices. This suggests that either feminism and liberalism must part
ways, or that liberalism must reconsider how principles of justice apply within voluntary
associations (Levey 2005, Okin 1989, Chapter 6). Feminist liberals could also hold that
the state should temporarily interfere with choices only until gender equality is reached
(Okin 1989, Chapter 8).

While many feminists have focused on the reform of marriage, others have argued for its
abolition. It is sometimes claimed that marriage is inherently structured, socially, by
sexist norms, precluding the possibility of true feminist reform. On such views,
abolishing marriage is necessary to reshape social expectations and change patterns of
choice accompanying it. For example, legal marriage may encourage women's economic
dependence by enabling and providing incentives for it. Thus, the legal structure of
marriage, in combination with social norms, is taken to encourage choices which
disempower women relative to men. Moreover, legal recognition of marriage itself
endorses an ideal of a central, exclusive love relationship which, on the views of some
feminists, encourages women to make disadvantageous choices by inculcating an
exaggerated valuation of such relationships—at the expense of women's other aspirations.
Thus, in The Second Sex, feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1908-86) identified
the expectations surrounding marriage as one of the primary means by which women are
socialized into a femininity which, in her view, was limiting: marriage “is the destiny
traditionally offered to women by society” (de Beauvoir 1949 [1989], 425), leading
women to focus on their attractiveness as mates—and not on study, career, or other
ambitions. For this reason, some feminists have rejected ideals of romantic, exclusive
love relationships, arguing that women should choose non-monogamy or lesbian
separatism (Firestone 1970). The idea that marriage is essentially tied to such an ideal of
romantic love will require further examination in the next section.

If, as some scholarship claims, there are significant gender differences in attitudes
towards relationships, one of the sources of power inequalities in love relationships
between men and women could be women's greater emotional investment (Gilligan 1993,
Chapters 2 and 3). For this reason, feminist contractarians have suggested that women
should privately subject their intimate relationships to a contractarian test for fairness,
while excluding affective benefits (such as the warmth one gets from nurturing another)
from the analysis, in order to ensure that emotional manipulation does not lead to
unfairness (Hampton 1993). This approach, of course, does not address systemic
inequities.

5.2 The Queer Critique

Just as some feminists argue that marriage is inherently sexist, so some philosophers of
gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender oppression argue that it is essentially heterosexist.
(Some of these philosophers refer to themselves as queer theorists in an effort to help
reclaim the word “queer” from its earlier, pejorative usage.) Queer theorists have sought
to demonstrate that a wide range of social institutions display heteronormativity, that is,
the assumption of heterosexuality and of the gender difference that defines it, as a norm.
Because queer theorists resist the normativity of gender as well as of heterosexuality,
there is an overlap between their critiques of marriage and those of some feminists,
especially lesbian feminists. For these critics of heteronormativity, same-sex marriage is
undesirable because it would assimilate same-sex relationships to an essentially
heterosexual marital ideal: “Queer theorists worry that pursuing marriage rights is
assimilationist, because it rests on the view that it would be better for gay and lesbian
relationships to be as much like traditional heterosexual intimate relationships as
possible” (Calhoun 2000, 113). On this view, extending marriage to same-sex marriage
will undermine, rather than achieve, gay and lesbian liberation.

Recall that some arguments for same-sex marriage claim that central, exclusive
relationships are valuable, and that same-sex marriage would benefit gays and lesbians by
encouraging them to enter such relationships (e.g. Freeman 1999, Macedo 2005; see 3.3).
But critics of heteronormativity, drawing on gay and lesbian experience, have argued that
the central, exclusive relationship ideal is a heterosexual paradigm. Such critics note that
gays and lesbians often choose relationships which are less possessive and more flexible
than monogamous marriage. Instead of recognizing the diverse relationships found in the
gay and lesbian community, same-sex marriage would assimilate lesbian and gay
relationships into the heterosexual model. While some advocates of same-sex marriage
argue that marital status would confer legitimacy on same-sex relationships, these critics
argue that the state should not confer legitimacy (and hence, implicitly, illegitimacy) on
consensual adult relationships, any more than it should so discriminate between children
born in or out of wedlock. Such conferrals of legitimacy are thought to discourage
diversity. Moreover, same-sex marriage would expose gays and lesbians to the
disadvantages, even evils, of marriage: economic incentives to stay in loveless marriages
and reduced exit options which facilitate abuse and violence (Card 1996, 2007, Ettelbrick
1989).

Other philosophers of gay and lesbian oppression have responded in defense of same-sex
marriage that it not only serves gay liberation, it is essential to it. Excluding gays and
lesbians from marriage marks them as inferior, and so same-sex marriage would decrease
stigmas against homosexuality. Further, the costs of same-sex marriage must be weighed
with benefits such as healthcare, custody and inheritance rights, and tax and immigration
status (Bolte 1998, Calhoun 2000, Chapter 5, Ferguson 2007, Mayo and Gunderson
2000). Finally, in response to worries about gay and lesbian assimilation, defenders of
same-sex marriage have argued that marriage can incorporate diversity, rather than
suppressing it. Marriage need not entail monogamy; indeed, it is argued that same-sex
marriage could perform the liberatory function of teaching heterosexuals that neither
gender roles nor monogamy are essential to love and marriage (Mohr 2005, 69-9, cf.
Halwani 2003, Chapter 3).

The feminist and queer critiques of marriage as essentially sexist, or essentially


heterosexist, face the same objection as do other claims about the essence of marriage.
Just because marriage has in the past possessed certain features does not entail that they
are inherent to it. Thus, rather than reproducing sexist and heterosexist patterns, same-sex
marriage could serve women's and gay liberation by transforming marriage, even,
perhaps, opening the door to recognition of a still wider variety of family forms
(Ferguson 2007, Bolte 1998, Mayo and Gunderson 2000, Calhoun 2005).

Traditionally there are two major reasons for marriage. Marriage provides society with
the guarantee for the structured perpetuation of the human species and the assurance of
some security for the caring of the offspring of that marriage. This historical framework
is based on the assumption that the results of procreation, children, are the responsibility
of the two individuals involved and that they are obligated to provide support for these
children until which time these children are able to provide for themselves.

In modern society where child rearing is not necessarily the primary purpose for
committed relationships, the institution of marriage has evolved to be a reflection and
expression of two individuals desire to offer or to provide support and protection to each
other. Thus, marriage is based on mutual love, affection and an abiding desire to develop
a relationship that is free of loneliness and fear.

Marriage is the partnership of two human beings, each bringing to the relationship love,
caring and acceptance. It is a mutually beneficial relationship based on equality and
respect for each other. Neither of the partners is superior to the other and neither of the
partners has any overriding power over the other. It is truly a shared experience that is
both fair and mutually responsible.
History
Although the institution of marriage pre-dates reliable recorded history, many cultures
have legends concerning the origins of marriage. The way in which a marriage is
conducted and its rules and ramifications has changed over time, as has the institution
itself, depending on the culture or demographic of the time.[15]

One of the oldest known and recorded marriage laws is discerned from Hammurabi's
Code, enacted in ancient Mesopotamia (widely considered as the cradle of civilization).
Various cultures have had their own theories on the origin of marriage. One example may
lie in a man's need for assurance as to paternity of his children. He might therefore be
willing to pay a bride price or provide for a woman in exchange for exclusive sexual
access.[16] Legitimacy is the consequence of this transaction rather than its motivation. In
Comanche society, married women work harder, lose sexual freedom, and do not seem to
obtain any benefit from marriage.[17] But nubile women are a source of jealousy and strife
in the tribe, so they are given little choice other than to get married. "In almost all
societies, access to women is institutionalized in some way so as to moderate the
intensity of this competition."[18]

In English common law, a marriage was a voluntary contract by a man and a woman, in
which by agreement they choose to become husband and wife.[19] Edvard Westermarck
proposed that "the institution of marriage has probably developed out of a primeval
habit".[20]

Forms of group marriage which involve more than one member of each sex, and
therefore are not either polygyny or polyandry, have existed in history. However, these
forms of marriage are extremely rare. Of the 250 societies reported by the American
anthropologist George P. Murdock in 1949, only the Caingang of Brazil had any group
marriages at all.[21]
European marriages

For most of European history, marriage was more or less a business agreement between
two families who arranged the marriages of their children. Romantic love, and even
simple affection, were not considered essential.[22] Historically, the perceived necessity of
marriage has been stressed.[23]

In Ancient Greece, no specific civil ceremony was required for the creation of a marriage
- only mutual agreement and the fact that the couple must regard each other as husband
and wife accordingly.[24] Men usually married when they were in their 20s or 30s [25] and
expected their wives to be in their early teens. It has been suggested that these ages made
sense for the Greek because men were generally done with military service by age 30,
and marrying a young girl ensured her virginity.[26] Married Greek women had few rights
in ancient Greek society and were expected to take care of the house and children.[27]
Time was an important factor in Greek marriage. For example, there were superstitions
that being married during a full moon was good luck and, according to Robert Flacelière,
Greeks married in the winter.[26] Inheritance was more important than feelings: A woman
whose father dies without male heirs can be forced to marry her nearest male relative—
even if she has to divorce her husband first.[28]

There were several types of marriages in ancient Roman society. The traditional
("conventional") form called conventio in manum required a ceremony with witnesses
and was also dissolved with a ceremony.[23] In this type of marriage, a woman lost her
family rights of inheritance of her old family and gained them with her new one. She now
was subject to the authority of her husband.[29] There was the free marriage known as sine
manu. In this arrangement, the wife remained a member of her original family; she stayed
under the authority of her father, kept her family rights of inheritance with her old family
and did not gain any with the new family.[29] The minimum age of marriage for girls was
12.[30]

From the early Christian era (30 to 325 CE), marriage was thought of as primarily a
private matter,[citation needed] with no uniform religious or other ceremony being required.
However, bishop Ignatius of Antioch writing around 110 to bishop Polycarp of Smyrna
exhorts, "[I]t becomes both men and women who marry, to form their union with the
approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be according to God, and not after their
own lust."[31]

In the 12th century women were obligated to take the name of their husbands and starting
in the second half of the 16th century parental consent along with the churches consent
was required for marriage .[32]

With few local exceptions, until 1545, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual
consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the
parties.[33][34] The couple would promise verbally to each other that they would be married
to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses was not required.[35] This promise was
known as the "verbum." If freely given and made in the present tense (e.g., "I marry
you"), it was unquestionably binding;[33] if made in the future tense ("I will marry you"),
it would constitute a betrothal. One of the functions of churches from the Middle Ages
was to register marriages, which was not obligatory. There was no state involvement in
marriage and personal status, with these issues being adjudicated in ecclesiastical courts.
During the Middle Ages marriages were arranged, sometimes as early as birth, and these
early pledges to marry were often used to ensure treaties between different royal families,
nobles, and heirs of fiefdoms. The church resisted these imposed unions, and increased
the number of causes for nullification of these arrangements.[32] As Christianity spread
during the roman period and the Middle Ages, the idea of free choice in selecting
marriage partners increased and spread with it.[32]

The average age of marriage in the late 1200s into the 1500s was around 25 years of age.
[36]

As part of the Counter-Reformation, in 1563 the Council of Trent decreed that a Roman
Catholic marriage would be recognized only if the marriage ceremony was officiated by a
priest with two witnesses. The Council also authorized a Catechism, issued in 1566,
which defined marriage as, "The conjugal union of man and woman, contracted between
two qualified persons, which obliges them to live together throughout life."[37]

In England, under the Anglican Church, marriage by consent and cohabitation was valid
until the passage of Lord Hardwicke's Act in 1753. This act instituted certain
requirements for marriage, including the performance of a religious ceremony observed
by witnesses.[38]

As part of the Reformation, the role of recording marriages and setting the rules for
marriage passed to the state. By the 1600s many of the Protestant European countries had
a state involvement in marriage. As of 2000, the average marriage age range was 25–44
years for men and 22–39 years for women.

Recognition by the state

In the early modern period, John Calvin and his Protestant colleagues reformulated
Christian marriage by enacting the Marriage Ordinance of Geneva, which imposed "The
dual requirements of state registration and church consecration to constitute marriage"[37]
for recognition.

In England and Wales, Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act 1753 required a formal ceremony
of marriage, thereby curtailing the practice of Fleet Marriage.[39] These were clandestine
or irregular marriages performed at Fleet Prison, and at hundreds of other places. From
the 1690s until the Marriage Act of 1753 as many as 300,000 clandestine marriages were
performed at Fleet Prison alone.[40] The Act required a marriage ceremony to be officiated
by an Anglican priest in the Anglican Church with two witnesses and registration. The
Act did not apply to Jewish marriages or those of Quakers, whose marriages continued to
be governed by their own customs.

In England and Wales, since 1837, civil marriages have been recognized as a legal
alternative to church marriages under the Marriage Act of 1836. In Germany, civil
marriages were recognized in 1875. This law permitted a declaration of the marriage
before an official clerk of the civil administration, when both spouses affirm their will to
marry, to constitute a legally recognized valid and effective marriage, and allowed an
optional private clerical marriage ceremony.

Chinese marriage

Main article: Chinese marriage

The mythological origin of Chinese marriage is a story about Nüwa and Fu Xi who
invented proper marriage procedures after becoming married.

In ancient Chinese society, people of the same surname were not supposed to marry and
doing so was seen as incest. However, because marriage to one's maternal relatives was
not thought of as incest, families sometimes intermarried from one generation to another.
Over time, Chinese people became more geographically mobile. Individuals remained
members of their biological families. When a couple died, the husband and the wife were
buried separately in the respective clans’ graveyard. In a maternal marriage, a male
would become a son-in-law who lived in the wife's home.

Same-sex marriage

Main article: Same-sex marriage

Various types of same-sex marriages have existed,[41] ranging from informal,


unsanctioned relationships to highly ritualized unions.[42]

While it is a relatively new practice that same-sex couples are being granted the same
form of legal marital recognition as commonly used by mixed-sex couples, recent
publicity and debate over the past decade gives an impression that civil marriage for
lesbian and gay couples is novel and untested. There is a long history of recorded same-
sex unions around the world.[43] It is believed that same-sex unions were celebrated in
Ancient Greece and Rome,[43] some regions of China, such as Fujian, and at certain times
in ancient European history.[44] A law in the Theodosian Code (C. Th. 9.7.3) issued in 342
CE prohibited same-sex marriage in ancient Rome, but the exact intent of the law and its
relation to social practice is unclear, as only a few examples of same-sex marriage in that
culture exist.[45]

Selection of a partner
Main articles: Arranged marriage and Forced marriage
An arranged marriage between Louis XIV of France and Maria Theresa of Spain.

The selection of a marriage partner may involve either the couple going through a
selection process of courtship or the marriage may be arranged by the couple's parents or
an outside party, a matchmaker.

A pragmatic (or 'arranged') marriage is made easier by formal procedures of family or


group politics. A responsible authority sets up or encourages the marriage; they may,
indeed, engage a professional matchmaker to find a suitable spouse for an unmarried
person. The authority figure could be parents, family, a religious official, or a group
consensus.

In some cases, the authority figure may choose a match for purposes other than marital
harmony.

In rural Indian villages, child marriage is also practiced, with parents at times arranging
the wedding, sometimes even before the child is born. This practice is now illegal under
the Child Marriage Restraint Act.

In some societies ranging from Central Asia to the Caucasus to Africa, the custom of
bride kidnapping still exists, in which a woman is captured by a man and his friends.
Sometimes this covers an elopement, but sometimes it depends on sexual violence. In
previous times, raptio was a larger-scale version of this, with groups of women captured
by groups of men, sometimes in war; the most famous example is The Rape of the Sabine
Women, which provided the first citizens of Rome with their wives.

Other marriage partners are more or less imposed on an individual. For example, widow
inheritance provides a widow with another man from her late husband's brothers.

Marriage ceremony
A marriage is usually formalized at a wedding or marriage ceremony. The ceremony may
be officiated either by a religious official, by a government official or by a state approved
celebrant. In many European and some Latin American countries, any religious ceremony
must be held separately from the required civil ceremony. Some countries - such as
Belgium, Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands, Romania and Turkey[46] - require that a civil
ceremony take place before any religious one. In some countries - notably the United
States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Norway and Spain - both
ceremonies can be held together; the officiant at the religious and civil ceremony also
serving as agent of the state to perform the civil ceremony. To avoid any implication that
the state is "recognizing" a religious marriage (which is prohibited in some countries) -
the "civil" ceremony is said to be taking place at the same time as the religious ceremony.
Often this involves simply signing a register during the religious ceremony. If the civil
element of the religious ceremony is omitted, the marriage is not recognized by
government under the law.

While some countries, such as Australia, permit marriages to be held in private and at any
location, others, including England and Wales, require that the civil ceremony be
conducted in a place open to the public and specially sanctioned by law. In England, the
place of marriage need no longer be a church or register office, but could also be a hotel,
historic building or other venue that has obtained the necessary license. An exception can
be made in the case of marriage by special emergency license, which is normally granted
only when one of the parties is terminally ill. Rules about where and when persons can
marry vary from place to place. Some regulations require that one of the parties reside in
the locality of the registry office.

Within the parameters set by the law of the jurisdiction in which a marriage or wedding
takes place, each religious authority has rules for the manner in which weddings are to be
conducted by their officials and members.

Marriage is an institution which can join together people's lives in a variety of emotional
and economic ways. In many Western cultures, marriage usually leads to the formation of
a new household comprising the married couple, with the married couple living together
in the same home, often sharing the same bed, but in some other cultures this is not the
tradition.[47] Among the Minangkabau of West Sumatra, residency after marriage is
matrilocal, with the husband moving into the household of his wife's mother.[48]
Residency after marriage can also be patrilocal or avunculocal. Such marriages have also
been increasingly common in modern Beijing. Guo Jianmei, director of the center for
women's studies at Beijing University, told a Newsday correspondent, "Walking
marriages reflect sweeping changes in Chinese society."[49] A similar arrangement in
Saudi Arabia, called misyar marriage, also involves the husband and wife living
separately but meeting regularly.[50]

Conversely, marriage is not a prerequisite for cohabitation. In some cases couples living
together do not wish to be recognized as married, such as when pension or alimony rights
are adversely affected, or because of taxation consideration, or because of immigration
issues, and for many other reasons. In modern western societies some couples cohabitate
before marriage to test whether such an arrangement might work in the long term.

In some cases cohabitation may constitute a common-law marriage, and in some


countries the laws recognize cohabitation in preference to the formality of marriage for
taxation and social security benefits. This is the case, for example, in Australia.[51]
Sex and procreation
See also: Chastity and Adultery

Many of the world's major religions look with disfavor on sexual relations outside of
marriage.[52] Many nonsecular states, mostly with Muslim majorities, sanction criminal
penalties for sexual intercourse before marriage. Sexual relations by a married person
with someone other than his/her spouse is known as adultery and is also frequently
disapproved by the major world religions (some calling it a sin). Adultery is considered
in many jurisdictions to be a crime and grounds for divorce.

On the other hand, marriage is not a prerequisite for having children. In the United States,
the National Center for Health Statistics reported that in 1992, 30.1 percent of births were
to unmarried women.[53][54] In 2006, that number had risen to 38.5 percent.[55] Children
born outside of marriage, bastards and whoresons, were known as illegitimate and
suffered legal disadvantages and social stigma. In recent years the legal relevance of
illegitimacy has declined and social acceptance has increased, especially in western
countries. In the United States, the highest judicial body ruled in the case Griswold v.
Connecticut that procreation within marriage could be abridged by artificial insemination.

Some married couples choose not to have children and so remain childfree. Others are
unable to have children because of infertility or other factors preventing conception or the
bearing of children. In some cultures, marriage imposes an obligation on women to bear
children. In northern Ghana, for example, payment of bridewealth signifies a woman's
requirement to bear children, and women using birth control face substantial threats of
physical abuse and reprisals.[56]

According to a study, married men and women, on average, have sex with their spouse 58
times a year, which means little more than once a week. There is however, a tendency
that the older the spouses are, the less sex they have. According to the same study, it
seems that people under 30 years old have sex about 111 times a year and about 15% of
married couples have not had sex with their spouse in the last six months to one year. [57]

Maintaining the passion alive is however one of the most common issues that a married
couple is confronted with. This is normally due to the fact that individuals become
accustomed or even bored to their spouse or due to the demands of raising a family or
establishing a career and the stress that arises from these. There are also cases in which
the individuals just have a low sex drive and they gradually become asexual.

Couples whom have a low sex standard during marriage usually have sexual intercourse
or any kind of sexual, romantic activity, one or two times a month. They think of sex as a
chore and they only practice it when it has been previously scheduled. [58]

Marriage law
Main article: Marriage law

Marriage laws refer to the legal requirements which determine the validity of a
marriage, which vary considerably between countries.

Common-law marriage

See also: Common-law marriage

In some jurisdictions but not all, marriage relationships may be created by the operation
of the law alone, as in common-law marriage, sometimes called "marriage by habit and
repute (cohabitation)." A de facto common-law marriage without a license or ceremony
is legally binding in some jurisdictions but has no legal consequence in others.[59]

Rights and obligations

See also: Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States

A Ketubah in Hebrew, a Jewish marriage-contract outlining the duties of each partner.

A marriage bestows rights and obligations on the married parties, and sometimes on
relatives as well, being the sole mechanism for the creation of affinal ties (in-laws). These
may include:

• Giving a husband/wife or his/her family control over a spouse's sexual services,


labor, and property.
• Giving a husband/wife responsibility for a spouse's debts.
• Giving a husband/wife visitation rights when his/her spouse is incarcerated or
hospitalized.
• Giving a husband/wife control over his/her spouse's affairs when the spouse is
incapacitated.
• Establishing the second legal guardian of a parent's child.
• Establishing a joint fund of property for the benefit of children.
• Establishing a relationship between the families of the spouses.
These rights and obligations vary considerably between societies, and between groups
within society.[60]

Marriage restrictions

Main article: Marriage law#Marriage restrictions

Marriage is an institution that is historically filled with restrictions. From age, to race, to
social status, to consanguinity, to gender, restrictions are placed on marriage by society
for reasons of benefiting the children, passing on healthy genes, maintaining cultural
values, or because of prejudice and fear. Almost all cultures that recognize marriage also
recognize adultery as a violation of the terms of marriage.[4]

The United States has had a history of marriage restriction laws. Many states enacted
miscegenation laws which were first introduced in the late seventeenth century in the
slave-holding colonies of Virginia (1691) and Maryland (1692) and lasted until 1967
(until it was overturned via Loving v. Virginia). Many of these states restricted several
minorities from marrying whites. For example, Alabama, Arkansas, and Oklahoma
banned Blacks in particular. States such as Mississippi and Missouri banned Blacks and
Asians. States such as North Carolina and South Carolina banned Blacks and Native
Americans, and some states such as Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia banned all
non-whites.

It is a relatively new practice that same-sex couples are being granted the same form of
legal marital recognition available to mixed-sexed couples. In the United States, the 1996
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) explicitly defines marriage for the purposes of federal
law as between a man and a woman and allows states to ignore same-sex marriages from
other states (though states arguably could do this already).[61][62] Forty-one US states
currently define marriage as between a man and a woman. Three of those states have
statutory language that pre-dates DOMA (enacted before 1996) defining marriage as
such. Thirty states have defined marriage in their constitutions. Arizona is the only state
that has ever defeated a constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and
a woman (2006), but it subsequently passed one in 2008.[63]

Societies have often placed restrictions on marriage to relatives, though the degree of
prohibited relationship varies widely. With few exceptions, marriages between parents
and children or between full siblings have been considered incest and forbidden.
However, marriages between more distant relatives have been much more common, with
one estimate being that 80% of all marriages in history have been between second
cousins or closer.[64] In modern times this proportion has fallen dramatically, but still
more than 10% of all marriages are believed to be between first and second cousins.[65] In
the United States, such marriages are now highly stigmatized, and laws ban most or all
first-cousin marriage in 30 states. Specifics vary: in South Korea, historically it was
illegal to marry someone with the same last name.[66]
Many societies have required a person to marry within their own general social group,
which anthropologists refer to as endogamy. An example of such restrictions would be a
requirement to marry someone from the same tribe.

Restrictions against polygamy have been common. Opposition to the recognition of


Deseret as a State by the Federal government was founded on opposition to the once-
practiced polygamous marriages of Mormons.

State recognition

Main article: Marriage law#State recognition

In many jurisdictions, a civil marriage may take place as part of the religious marriage
ceremony, although they are theoretically distinct. Some jurisdictions allow civil
marriages in circumstances which are notably not allowed by particular religions, such as
same-sex marriages or civil unions.

Marriage and religion


All mainstream religions have strong views relating to marriage. Most religions perform
a wedding ceremony to solemnize the beginning of a marriage.

Bible-based faiths

In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

Rembrandt's depiction of Samson's marriage feast

The Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) describes a number of marriages, including
those of Isaac,[Gen 24:49-67] Jacob,[Gen 29:27] and Samson.[Judg 14:7-12] In those times the most
common marital arrangement, of those that are mentioned at all, is for men to have
multiple wives at once.[67]

Betrothal (erusin), which is merely a binding promise to get married, is distinct from
marriage itself (nissu'in), with the time between these events varying substantially.[67][68]
Since a wife was regarded as property in those days, the betrothal (erusin) was effected
simply by purchasing her from her father (or guardian)[67][68]; the girl’s consent is not
explicitly required by any biblical law.[68] Like the adjacent Arabic culture (in the pre-
Islamic period),[69] the act of marriage appears mainly to have consisted of the groom
fetching the bride, although among the Israelites (unlike the Arabs) the procession was a
festive occasion, accompanied by music, dancing, and lights.[68][67] To celebrate the
marriage, week-long feasts were sometimes held.[67][68]

In biblical times, a wife was regarded as chattel, belonging to her husband[68][67]; the
descriptions of the bible suggest that she would be expected to perform tasks such as
spinning, sewing, weaving, manufacture of clothing, fetching of water, baking of bread,
and animal husbandry.[70] However, wives were usually looked after with care, and
bigamous men were expected to ensure that they give their first wife food, clothing, and
sexual activity.[Ex 21:10]

Since a wife was regarded as property, her husband was originally free to divorce her for
any reason, at any time.[68] A divorced couple were permitted to get back together, unless
the wife had married someone else after her divorce.[Deut 24:2-4]

Christianity

Main article: Christian views of marriage

Christian wedding in Kyoto, Japan.

Christians believe that marriage is a gift from God, one that should not be taken for
granted. They variously regard it as a sacrament, a contract, a sacred institution, or a
covenant.[71] From the very beginning of the Christian Church, marriage law and theology
have been a major matter.[72] The foundation of the Western tradition of Christian
marriages have been the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul.[37]

Christians often marry for religious reasons ranging from following the biblical
injunction for a "man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two
shall become one,"[Gen. 2:24][73] to obeying Canon Law stating marriage between baptized
persons is a sacrament.[74]

Divorce is not encouraged. Most Protestant churches allow people to marry again after a
divorce. In the Roman Catholic Church, marriage can only be ended by an annulment
where the Church for special reasons regards it as never having taken place.[75]

"'...So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man
not separate."

– Jesus[Matthew 19:6]

Liturgical Christianity

Further information: Marriage in the Eastern Orthodox Church

Anglicans, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox consider marriage termed holy matrimony to
be an expression of divine grace, termed a sacrament or mystery. In Western ritual, the
ministers of the sacrament are the husband and wife themselves, with a bishop, priest, or
deacon merely witnessing the union on behalf of the church, and adding a blessing. In
Eastern ritual churches, the bishop or priest functions as the actual minister of the Sacred
Mystery (Eastern Orthodox deacons may not perform marriages). Western Christians
commonly refer to marriage as a vocation, while Eastern Christians consider it an
ordination and a martyrdom, though the theological emphases indicated by the various
names are not excluded by the teachings of either tradition.[dubious – discuss] Marriage is
commonly celebrated in the context of a Eucharistic service (a nuptial Mass or Divine
Liturgy). The sacrament of marriage is indicative of the relationship between Christ and
the Church.[Eph. 5:29-32]

Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic tradition of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries defined marriage as
a sacrament ordained by God,[37] signifying the mystical marriage of Christ to his Church.
[76]

"The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves
a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses
and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons
has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament." [77]

The mutual love between man and wife becomes an image of the eternal love with which
God loves humankind. The celebration of marriage between two Catholics normally takes
place during the public liturgical celebration of the Holy Mass, because of its sacramental
connection with the unity of the Paschal mystery of Christ (Communion). Sacramental
marriage confers a perpetual and exclusive bond between the spouses. By its nature, the
institution of marriage and conjugal love is ordered to the procreation and upbringing of
offspring. Marriage creates rights and duties in the Church between the spouses and
towards their children: "[e]ntering marriage with the intention of never having children is
a grave wrong and more than likely grounds for an annulment."[78]

According to current Catholic legislation governing marriage, "The essential properties of


marriage are unity and indissolubility; in Christian marriage they acquire a distinctive
firmness by reason of the sacrament.[79] Divorce is not recognized, but annulments
predicated upon previously existing impediments may be granted. Offspring resulting
from annulled relationships are considered legitimate. The remarriage of persons
divorced from a living, lawful spouse are not separated from the Church, but they cannot
receive Eucharistic communion.[80]

Protestantism

Protestant denominations see the primary purpose of marriage to be to glorify[81] God by


demonstrating his love to the world.[citation needed] Other purposes of marriage include
intimate companionship, rearing children and mutual support for both husband and wife
to fulfill their life callings. Protestants generally approve of birth control[citation needed] and
consider marital sexual pleasure to be a gift of God.

Most Reformed Christians would deny the elevation of marriage to the status of a
sacrament, nevertheless it is considered a covenant between spouses before God.cf.
[Ephesians 5:31-33]

Historically, five competing models of marriage in Christianity have shaped Western


marriage and legal tradition:

• The Protestant Reformationists replaced the Roman Catholic sacramental model.


• Martin Luther saw it as a social "estate of the earthly kingdom…subject to the
prince, not the Pope."
• John Calvin taught that marriage was a covenant of grace that required the
coercive power of the state to preserve its integrity.
• Anglicans regarded marriage as a domestic commonwealth within England and
the church. By the seventeenth century, Anglican theologians had begun to
develop a theology of marriage to replace the sacramental model of marriage.
These "regarded the interlocking commonwealths of state, church, and family as
something of an earthly form of heavenly government."
• The secularism of the Enlightenment emphasized marriage as a contract "to be
formed, maintained, and dissolved as the couple sees fit."[37]

John Witte, Professor of Law and director of the Law and Religion Program at Emory
University, warns that contemporary liberal attitudes toward marriage ultimately will
produce a family that is "haphazardly bound together in the common pursuit of selfish
ends."[37]

Latter-day Saints
Main article: Celestial marriage

A couple following their marriage in the Manti Utah Temple.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) believe that "marriage
between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the
Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children." The LDS belief is that marriage
between a man and a woman can last beyond death and into eternity.[82]

Judaism

Main article: Jewish views of marriage

A Jewish wedding, painting by Jozef Israëls, 1903.

In Judaism, marriage is viewed as a contractual bond commanded by God in which a man


and a woman come together to create a relationship in which God is directly involved.
[Deut. 24:1]
Though procreation is not the sole purpose, a Jewish marriage is also expected to
fulfill the commandment to have children.[Gen. 1:28] The main focus centers around the
relationship between the husband and wife. Kabbalistically, marriage is understood to
mean that the husband and wife are merging together into a single soul. This is why a
man is considered "incomplete" if he is not married, as his soul is only one part of a
larger whole that remains to be unified.[83]

Islam

Main article: Islamic marital jurisprudence


A Muslim bride of Pakistan origin signing the nikkah nama or marriage certificate.

A Muslim couple being wed alongside the Tungabhadra River at Hampi, India.

Islam also commends marriage, with the age of marriage being whenever the individuals
feel ready, financially and emotionally.

In Islam, polygamy is allowed for men, with the specific limitation that they can only
have up to four wives at any one time, given the religious requirement that they are able
to and willing to partition their time and wealth equally among the respective wives.

For a Muslim wedding to take place, the bride and her guardian must both agree on the
marriage. Should either the guardian or the girl disagree on the marriage, it may not
legally take place. In essence, while the guardian/father of the girl has no right to force
her to marry, he has the right to stop a marriage from taking place, given that his reasons
are valid. The professed purpose of this practice is to ensure that a woman finds a suitable
partner whom she has chosen not out of sheer emotion.

From an Islamic (Sharia) law perspective, the minimum requirements and responsibilities
in a Muslim marriage are that the groom provide living expenses (housing, clothing,
food, maintenance) to the bride, and in return, the bride's main responsibility is raising
children to be proper Muslims. All other rights and responsibilities are to be decided
between the husband and wife, and may even be included as stipulations in the marriage
contract before the marriage actually takes place, so long as they do not go against the
minimum requirements of the marriage.

In Shia Islam marriage must take place in the presence of at least two reliable witnesses,
with the consent of the guardian of the bride and the consent of both spouses (including
the girl). Following the marriage, the couple is immediately allowed to consummate the
marriage. To create a religious contract between them, it is sufficient that a man and a
woman indicate an intention to marry each other and recite the requisite words in front of
a Muslim priest The wedding party can be held days, or months later, whenever the
couple and their families want to announce the marriage in public.[84][85][86][87]

In Sunni Islam, marriage must take place in the presence of witnesses, with the consent of
the bride and the consent of both spouses (including the girl). Following the marriage
they may consummate their marriage.

Bahá'í

In the Bahá'í Faith marriage is encouraged and viewed as a mutually strengthening bond,
but is not obligatory. A Bahá'í marriage requires the couple to choose each other, and
then the consent of all living parents.[88]

Hinduism

Main article: Marriage in Hinduism

Hindu marriage ceremony from a Rajput wedding.

Hinduism sees marriage as a sacred duty that entails both religious and social obligations.
Old Hindu literature in Sanskrit gives many different types of marriages and their
categorization ranging from "Gandharva Vivaha" (instant marriage by mutual consent of
participants only, without any need for even a single third person as witness) to normal
(present day) marriages, to "Rakshasa Vivaha" ("demoniac" marriage, performed by
abduction of one participant by the other participant, usually, but not always, with the
help of other persons). Hindu widows cannot remarry.[89]

Sikhism
In a Sikh marriage, the couple make rounds around the holy book called Guru Granth
Sahib four times and the holy man speaks some words from the Guru Granth Sahib in the
form of kirtan. The ceremony is known as 'Anand Karaj' and represents the holy union of
between two souls that are united as one.

Same-sex marriage

Main article: Religious arguments about same-sex marriage

A same-sex couple exchanging wedding vows in an Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

For the most part, religious traditions in the world reserve marriage to heterosexual
unions, but there are exceptions including Unitarian Universalist, Metropolitan
Community Church, Quaker, United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ and
Reform Jewish congregations, and some Anglican dioceses.[90][91] This model is currently
recognized by various jurisdictions[92] and religious denominations.[93][94][95]

Financial considerations
The financial aspects of marriage vary between cultures and have changed over time.

In some cultures, dowries and bride prices continue to be required today. In both cases,
the financial arrangements are usually made between the groom (or his family) and the
bride's family; with the bride in many cases not being involved in the arrangement, and
often not having a choice in whether to participate in the marriage.

In Early Modern Britain, the social status of the couple was supposed to be equal. After
the marriage, all the property (called "fortune") and expected inheritances of the wife
belonged to the husband.

Dowry

Main article: Dowry

A dowry was not an unconditional gift,[in Early Modern Britain?] but was usually a part of a wider
marriage settlement. For example, if the groom had other children, they could not inherit
the dowry, which had to go to the bride's children. In the event of her childlessness, the
dowry had to be returned to her family, but sometimes not until the groom's death or
remarriage.

In some cultures, dowries continue to be required today (for example, in Sudan), while
some countries impose restrictions on the payment of dowry. In India, nearly 7,000
women are killed annually in disputes over dowries,[96] and activists believe that figures
represent only a third of the actual number of such murders.[97]

Bride price and dower

In other cultures, the groom or his family were expected to pay a bride price to the bride's
family for the right to marry the daughter, or dower, which was payable to the bride. This
required the groom to work for the bride's family for a set period of time.

In the Jewish tradition, the rabbis in ancient times insisted on the marriage couple
entering into a marriage contact, called a ketubah. Besides other things, the ketubah
provided for an amount to be paid by the husband in the event of a divorce or his estate in
the event of his death. This amount was a replacement of the biblical dower or bride
price, which was payable at the time of the marriage by the groom to the father of the
bride.[citation needed] [Exodus 22:15-16] This innovation was put in place because the biblical bride
price created a major social problem: many young prospective husbands could not raise
the bride price at the time when they would normally be expected to marry. So, to enable
these young men to marry, the rabbis, in effect, delayed the time that the amount would
be payable, when they would be more likely to have the sum. It may also be noted that
both the dower and the ketubah amounts served the same purpose: the protection for the
wife should her support cease, either by death or divorce. The only difference between
the two systems was the timing of the payment. It is the predecessor to the wife's present-
day entitlement to maintenance in the event of the breakup of marriage, and family
maintenance in the event of the husband not providing adequately for the wife in his will.
Another function performed by the ketubah amount was to provide a disincentive for the
husband contemplating divorcing his wife: he would need to have the amount to be able
to pay to the wife.

Morning gifts, which might also be arranged by the bride's father rather than the bride,
are given to the bride herself; the name derives from the Germanic tribal custom of
giving them the morning after the wedding night. She might have control of this morning
gift during the lifetime of her husband, but is entitled to it when widowed. If the amount
of her inheritance is settled by law rather than agreement, it may be called dower.
Depending on legal systems and the exact arrangement, she may not be entitled to
dispose of it after her death, and may lose the property if she remarries. Morning gifts
were preserved for many centuries in morganatic marriage, a union where the wife's
inferior social status was held to prohibit her children from inheriting a noble's titles or
estates. In this case, the morning gift would support the wife and children. Another legal
provision for widowhood was jointure, in which property, often land, would be held in
joint tenancy, so that it would automatically go to the widow on her husband's death.
Islamic tradition has similar practices. A 'mahr', either immediate or deferred, is the
woman's portion of the groom's wealth (divorce) or estate (death). These amounts are
usually set on the basis of the groom's own and family wealth and incomes, but in some
parts these are set very high so as to provide a disincentive for the groom exercising the
divorce, or the husband's family 'inheriting' a large portion of the estate, especially if
there are no male offspring from the marriage. In some countries, including Iran, the
mahr or alimony can amount to more than a man can ever hope to earn, sometimes up to
US$1,000,000 (4000 official Iranian gold coins). If the husband cannot pay the mahr,
either in case of a divorce or on demand, according to the current laws in Iran, he will
have to pay it by installments. Failure to pay the mahr might even lead to imprisonment.
[98]

Modern customs

In many countries today, each marriage partner has the choice of keeping his or her
property separate or combining properties. In the latter case, called community property,
when the marriage ends by divorce each owns half. In many legal jurisdictions, laws
related to property and inheritance provide by default for property to pass upon the death
of one party in a marriage firstly to the spouse and secondly to the children. Wills and
trusts can make alternative provisions for property succession.

In some legal systems, the partners in a marriage are "jointly liable" for the debts of the
marriage. This has a basis in a traditional legal notion called the "Doctrine of Necessities"
whereby a husband was responsible to provide necessary things for his wife. Where this
is the case, one partner may be sued to collect a debt for which they did not expressly
contract. Critics of this practice note that debt collection agencies can abuse this by
claiming an unreasonably wide range of debts to be expenses of the marriage. The cost of
defense and the burden of proof is then placed on the non-contracting party to prove that
the expense is not a debt of the family. The respective maintenance obligations, both
during and eventually after a marriage, are regulated in most jurisdictions; alimony is one
such method.

Some have attempted to analyze the institution of marriage using economic theory; for
example, anarcho-capitalist economist David D. Friedman has written a lengthy and
controversial study of marriage as a market transaction (the market for husbands and
wives).[99] As the economic status of woman was enhanced through marrige in the past,
nowadays, as more wives work, more man than woman gain economicly. [100]

Taxation

In some countries, spouses are allowed to average their incomes; this is advantageous to a
married couple with disparate incomes. To compensate for this somewhat, many
countries provide a higher tax bracket for the averaged income of a married couple.
While income averaging might still benefit a married couple with a stay-at-home spouse,
such averaging would cause a married couple with roughly equal personal incomes to pay
more total tax than they would as two single persons. This is commonly called the
marriage penalty.

Moreover, when the rates applied by the tax code are not based on averaging the
incomes, but rather on the sum of individuals' incomes, higher rates will definitely apply
to each individual in a two-earner households in progressive tax systems. This is most
often the case with high-income taxpayers and is another situation where some consider
there to be a marriage penalty.

Conversely, when progressive tax is levied on the individual with no consideration for the
partnership, dual-income couples fare much better than single-income couples with
similar household incomes. The effect can be increased when the welfare system treats
the same income as a shared income thereby denying welfare access to the non-earning
spouse. Such systems apply in Australia and Canada, for example.

Other considerations

Sometimes people marry for purely pragmatic reasons, sometimes called a marriage of
convenience or sham marriage. For example, according to one publisher of information
about "green card" marriages, "Every year over 450,000 United States citizens marry
foreign-born individuals and petition for them to obtain a permanent residency (Green
Card) in the United States."[101] While this is likely an over-estimate, in 2003 alone
184,741 immigrants were admitted to the U.S. as spouses of U.S. citizens.[102] Many more
were admitted as fiancés of US citizens for the purpose of being married within 90 days.
Regardless of the number of people entering the US to marry a US citizen, it does not
indicate the number of these marriages that are convenience marriages, which number
could include some of those with the motive of obtaining permanent residency, but also
include many people who are US citizens. One example would be to obtain an
inheritance that has a marriage clause. Another example would be to save money on
health insurance or to enter a health plan with preexisting conditions offered by the new
spouse's employer. Many other situations exist, and, in fact, all marriages have a complex
combination of conveniences motivating the parties to marry. A marriage of convenience
is one that is devoid of normal reasons to marry.

Some people want to marry a person with higher or lower status than them. Others want
to marry people who have similar status. Hypergyny refers to the act of seeking out those
who are of slightly higher social status. In most cases, hypergyny refers to women
wanting men of higher status. Isogyny refers to the act of seeking out those who are of
similar status.

Termination
In most societies, the death of one of the partners terminates the marriage, and in
monogamous societies this allows the other partner to remarry, though sometimes after a
waiting or mourning period.
Many societies also provide for the termination of marriage through divorce. Marriages
can also be annulled in some societies, where an authority declares that a marriage never
happened. In either event the people concerned are free to remarry (or marry). After
divorce, one spouse may have to pay alimony.

The absolute right of two married partners to consent to divorce was only recognized in
western nations in recent decades. In the United States no-fault divorce was first
recognized in California in 1969 and the final state to recognize it was New York in 1989
[2].

Several cultures have practiced temporary and conditional marriages. Examples include
the Celtic practice of handfasting and fixed-term marriages in the Muslim community.
Pre-Islamic Arabs practiced a form of temporary marriage that carries on today in the
practice of Nikah Mut'ah, a fixed-term marriage contract. Muslim controversies related to
Nikah Mut'ah have resulted in the practice being confined mostly to Shi'ite communities.

Societal considerations
President of the Institute for American Values David Blankenhorn claims that children
who grow up in homes where parents are married to one another are less likely to be
impoverished, to have emotional or behavioral problems, to engage in premature sexual
relations, to use drugs, or to commit suicide.[103]

Post-marital residence
Early theories explaining the determinants of postmarital residence (e.g., Lewis Henry
Morgan, Edward Tylor, or George Peter Murdock) connected it with the sexual division
of labor. However, to date, cross-cultural tests of this hypothesis using worldwide
samples have failed to find any significant relationship between these two variables.
However, Korotayev's tests show that the female contribution to subsistence does
correlate significantly with matrilocal residence in general; however, this correlation is
masked by a general polygyny factor. Although an increase in the female contribution to
subsistence tends to lead to matrilocal residence, it also tends simultaneously to lead to
general non-sororal polygyny which effectively destroys matrilocality. If this polygyny
factor is controlled (e.g., through a multiple regression model), division of labor turns out
to be a significant predictor of postmarital residence. Thus, Murdock's hypotheses
regarding the relationships between the sexual division of labor and postmarital residence
were basically correct, though, as has been shown by Korotayev, the actual relationships
between those two groups of variables are more complicated than he expected.[104][105]

In modern societies we observe a trend toward the neolocal residence.[106]

Contemporary views on marriage


Criticisms
Main article: Criticism of marriage

Many people have proposed arguments against marriage for various reasons. These
include political and religious criticisms, reference to the divorce rate, as well as celibacy
for religious or philosophical reasons.

Controversial views

See also: Anti-miscegenation laws, Interracial marriage, Transnational marriage,


Interfaith marriage, Mixed marriage, Same-sex marriage, Divorce, Polygamy, Child
marriage, and Arranged marriage

Many controversies have arisen over the centuries in relation to marriage - including
issues relating to the suitability of partners of different denominations, faiths, tribes or
races, the acceptable number and minimum age of wives, the rights of partners, especially
wives, and wider family obligations. For example, a contemporary controversy of
particular significance in the USA concerns the exclusion of homosexual relationships
from legal and social recognition and the rights and obligations it provides. Social
conservatives opposed to same-sex marriage in some countries claim that any attempt to
define marriage to include anything other than the union of one man and one woman
would "deprive the term of its fundamental and defining meaning."[107] In other countries,
polygamy is a "socially conservative" practice.[citation needed] Advocates of same-faith
marriage and same-race marriage may criticize the legalization of interfaith marriage[108]
and interracial marriage,[109] respectively.

Currently 37 U.S. states have passed laws which define marriage as limited to a union
between one man and one woman: 33 state legislatures have passed statutes to that effect,
and 4 states (Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada) have, by popular vote, passed
Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) as constitutional amendments; the Ohio state
legislature is currently debating a Defense of Marriage Act. Thirteen states, therefore, do
not currently have laws on their books which limit marriage to a union between one man
and one woman.[110]

The state of Massachusetts has sued the U.S. federal government over its definition of
marriage. The lawsuit, brought by the first state to legalize gay marriage, said the 1996
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) infringed on a state's sovereign right to define marital
status. The lawsuit alleges that DOMA infringed on a state's sovereign right to define
marital status and is unconstitutional.[111]

Jump to: navigation, search

Marriageable age (or marriage age) is the age at which a person is allowed to marry,
either as of right or subject to parental or other forms of consent. The age and other
requirements vary between countries. The marriage age should not be confused with the
age of majority or the age of consent. The marriage age in a country may be below the
age of majority and the age of consent that applies in that country. Additionally, the age
at which a person is legally permitted to engage in sexual activity may be below the
marriage age.

In my view the only right age for marriage whether you’re from Morogoro or Katmandu,
is when the love you have for yourself is so big. That when you look in your witness’s
eyes (your future spouse) it only swells and swells and swells for you truly have a
witness; a witness to the rest of your life exactly as it would be without them. Only with
them now, it will be that much more worth living for. Happy matrimony everyone, as we
all have witnesses (mine being this column right now) let’s celebrate them!

The best age to get married legally is 18 for girls and 21 for guys. It might be physically
true but not mentally. Only by 23 years in girls and 28 years in guys they would have met
many personalities and would have learnt the art of giving concern to others, showing
hospitality and caring for people around them, which are all the most important qualities
that one should develop before marriage

Regards
Valarmathi
Member ISC
Author: Vellamji 23 May 2009 Member Level: Gold Points : 2 Voting Score:
0Well,According to me,right age of marriage of girl is 22 and for a boy
27.however,ultimately it depends on each person's family situation.In some families,the
boy may be the bread winner of the house,so he has to look after his responsibility and
then enter into marriage life.Similiarly,in some family,the girl's family may not be well-
bulit to get the daughter married in the correct age,so in that case it might take a bit late.

Actually speaking,the age is considered mainly to enable understanding between the


couple.If the hearts are matched with no ego and dominancy,then age is just the literal
factor.
Author: Anand 24 May 2009 Member Level: Silver Points : 2 Voting Score:
0In today's time many Girls & boys wish to get married after achieving their desired
Goals & objective in professional life.They want & wish to settle down in career & life
before getting into commitment or bond of Marriage.
All d people who believe N think its important to settle down & be independent before
entering into d world of Commitment of Marriage
Author: Dinesh Pradeep T 31 May 2009 Member Level: Silver Points : 2 (Rs.
2) Voting Score: 0The ideal age for getting married are as follows:

Girls - 21+
Boys - 24+

Its been told that 18 yrs is enough to get married as they become MaJORs, but its not
good for them in the current lifestyle. This 18 yrs to attain the MAJOR stat is ment
entirely for various other purposes like Voting, Driving License, Passport etc., because
after this age only guys/gals have to reach various opportunities which requires certain
legal status.

But this MAJOR stat has been mis-used often with Marriage. Ideally if someone gets
married before 21 yrs, their life would be all over before it even would start. I mean the
enjoyment life which everyone requires to run throughout their lives.

We can enjoy at all ages, but the younger age enjoyment is entirely different to the other
age categories.

Also, scientifically guys and gals gets to attain the marriage resposibilities only after 21
yrs, thats when they learn to manage things, organize and responsible. Before that age its
all fun and enjoyment, and more often its take-it-easy or take it as it goes life, which is
not good for marriage.

SO, PLEASE GUYS AND GALS, GET MARRIED AFTER 24 AND 21 (Respectively),
FOR A HEALTHY AND ENJOYABLE MARRIAGE LIFE.

AFTER ALL MARRIAGE IS NOT A SHORT-TERM LIFE, ITS TOGETHER FOR A


WHOLE LIFE-TIME.
Author: R GANESAN 07 Jun 2009 Member Level: Silver Points : 7 (Rs.
7) Voting Score: 0Hi,

Physicians and psychologists prescribe that age when the body and mind are adequately
matured as marriageable age. But it is not as simple as it sounds here. If you are an
American or an European you have to consider only issues concerning you and your
would be partner. More over a married person here normally respects the freedom of
his/her partner and personal liberty is essence of life. Life moves on the philosophy "one
lives for one's self". No big sanctity is attached to marriage and one can come out of it if
he feels that it is a burden for his personal growth and liberty. Thus age is not a big issue
that is why it is common to find the bride being older than the groom. It is all about legal
sanction for man-woman relationship.

But in India marriage is seen as an important mile stone in a person's life. It is because
life revolves around family here. Marriage results in bringing a stranger in to the family.
The girl will have to make a lot of compromises to suit herself to the new environment
i.e.the boy's family. Older the girl, stronger her individuality. She tends to have strong
opinion about almost everything. This, coupled with strong educational background of
the girl could be attributed to the root cause of many problems that new marriages face.
No,this is not an argument against education and individuality of women but it is matter-
of-factly speaking. Though the solution lies in nucleus family, we are concerned about
persons who have faith in the family values. So a possible choice to such persons would
be to get married to young girls who could be easily made to understand what the family
expects from her. She will enthusiastically understand and learn about the new set up and
she may not have to give up much from her side. Or giving up will not be much of a pain.

In the case of a man, it all depends on the individual. If he is conservative and has faith in
strong lasting marriage with family values he would do well to get married early in life
with an young girl. Getting married at an early age will help them to understand each
other and will create very strong bondage between the life partners.

Here are my reasons.

1. Both will be financially secure (or insecure)


2. Expectations will be low as they would have studied human nature at close range and
have experienced it all
3. No children to mess up the Guys TV time or the Girls Kitty time
4. Can spend more time together as they would likely be out of work, friends, relatives
5. No active sex or extra marital life to mess up the marriage
6. The guy would hopefully have learnt cooking by 50 years
7. Companionship and talking about failed relationship will be great.
8. Both can travel w/o the necessary diapers, bottle, stroller in tow.
9. Both would have already fulfilled their ambitions so no blame game as to you didnt let
me do this do that.
10. I can think of a hundred more reasons on why a late marriage with a Capital L will
work :-)

Recently the committee headed by justice K.Laxmanan suggested that the age
limit to get married for men has to be decreased from 21 years to 18 years.Is it
good.
Give your comments.not good ay all

The laws regulating marriage are quite uniform. The right to marry is considered very
personal, and once the "age of majority," or when one can marry without the permission
of a parent or guardian, is reached, it is the couple's sole decision whether or not to
marry. However, below this age, parental consent is required (though states do not
require the consent of a parent or guardian who is not present in the country or who has
abandoned his or her child). The age of majority is now universally eighteen, except in
Mississippi, where the parties need to be twenty-one.

While only three states, California, Kansas, and Massachusetts, have no statutory
minimum age under which marriage licenses will not be issued, many states with a
minimum age requirement do permit marriages between minors under that age. Virtually
all states allowing the marrying of minors require court approval in addition to parental
consent. A growing number of states now require counseling for minors seeking to
marry. Provisions for underage marriages exist in order to permit pregnant minor females
and/or couples to marry, and prevailing code language still clearly reflects that bias. Ohio
has the most explicit rule on this issue. In that state, the juvenile court is authorized to
grant official consent to the marriage of underage persons, and the probate court issues
the license. According to Ohio statutes, the probate court may delay issuing the license
until the court is convinced that the female is pregnant and will carry the child to term or
may even delay issuance of the license until the baby is born.

We'd say any age (yes, yes above the permissible 18 years, that is) is the perfect age to
get married. There really is no upper limit!

Picture perfect

It was our parents' or their parents' generation or the one before that, which probably had
the idea of setting a particular age as the appropriate one to getting married. Those times
are gone now.

If you've found the man of your dreams at age 25, then that's the perfect time to get
married. If not, it might be anything: 28, 30, 34…how does it really matter? The point is,
when do you think you would be comfortable to get into a long term commitment?

And it is different for everyone so, just because your best friend was married off at 22,
doesn't mean you should have also.

What's in a number?

With more and more people subscribing to that belief, the boundaries between what is the
right age, and should be, are turning fuzzy by the day.

So, if you are tying the knot soon after you graduate, at 22 or 23, you start your career
after marriage and have the opportunity to 'grow up together.'

But if you're starting your innings rather late, you have already gotten a whole lot of
experience and maturity behind you, which is what men respect about women a lot, by
the way!

No expiry date

Thankfully, there's no longer a 'best before' date associated with marriage! So, if you are
say past 26, it doesn't mean that you are past your prime and can't get married anymore.
Or, won't find someone to your liking and might have to settle down for someone 'not up
to the mark'.
With careers taking priority over everything else these days its pretty acceptable to marry
late.

Now the right age to get married is when you decide you want to marry! What's more
important than the age you get married at, is the fact that whenever you do get married,
you should be happy. You will then realise that the delay and the wait was definitely
worth it!

How the Marriage Institution has Evolved, from Primitive Societies to the Present

Kirkus Reviews

Coontz (Family Studies/Evergreen State) turns from scrutiny of the family (The Way We
Really Are, 1997, etc.) to examination of marriage itself. With a host of examples, she
considers the long-established system of marriages as they were arranged for economic,
social and political advantage. These involved the input of parents, in-laws, siblings, rival
nobles, concubines and, after the Middle Ages, popes, bishops and church reformers as
well. This system, Coontz finds, remained the norm until the 18th century, when the
spread of the market economy and the beginning of the Enlightenment brought profound
changes. By the end of that century, the model of a love-based, male-protector marriage
was firmly in place, with men and women seen as occupying separate spheres of
existence, each dependent on the other and each incomplete without marriage. While the
early-20th century saw changes in sexual expressiveness and relations between the sexes,
the love-based model persisted, culminating in "the golden age of marriage" in the 1950s.
It was, Coontz says, a "unique moment in the history of marriage," a time when
breadwinner husband and stay-at-home mom were considered the norm, and marriage
provided the context for the greater part of most people's lives. While short-lived, the
1950s model has come to be regarded by many as "traditional marriage," an ideal whose
decline is mourned. Coontz, however, exposes that view as shortsighted. Using both story
and statistic, she demonstrates that for most of human history marriage has been an
alliance held together by outside forces, and that an array of societal transformations
continue even now to shape the institution. Just as the long-lived economic/political
model can't be revived, she counsels, neither can the 1950s "traditional" model. In her
concluding chapters, she examines the pluses and minuses of contemporary marriage and
looks at the value of alternatives. A rich, provocative and entertaining social history.
http://www.stephaniecoontz.com/books/marriage/index.htm
Books > Marriage, A History > Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The Radical Idea of Marrying for Love


George Bernard Shaw described marriage as an institution that brings together two
people "under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most
transient of passions. They are required to swear that they will remain in that excited,
abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part."1

Shaw's comment was amusing when he wrote it at the beginning of the twentieth century,
and it still makes us smile today, because it pokes fun at the unrealistic expectations that
spring from a dearly held cultural ideal—that marriage should be based on intense,
profound love and a couple should maintain their ardor until death do them part. But for
thousands of years the joke would have fallen flat.

For most of history it was inconceivable that people would choose their mates on the
basis of something as fragile and irrational as love and then focus all their sexual,
intimate, and altruistic desires on the resulting marriage. In fact, many historians,
sociologists, and anthropologists used to think romantic love was a recent Western
invention. This is not true. People have always fallen in love, and throughout the ages
many couples have loved each other deeply.2

But only rarely in history has love been seen as the main reason for getting married.
When someone did advocate such a strange belief, it was no laughing matter. Instead, it
was considered a serious threat to social order.

In some cultures and times, true love was actually thought to be incompatible with
marriage. Plato believed love was a wonderful emotion that led men to behave honorably.
But the Greek philosopher was referring not to the love of women, "such as the meaner
men feel," but to the love of one man for another.3

Other societies considered it good if love developed after marriage or thought love should
be factored in along with the more serious considerations involved in choosing a mate.
But even when past societies did welcome or encourage married love, they kept it on a
short leash. Couples were not to put their feelings for each other above more important
commitments, such as their ties to parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors, or God.
In ancient India, falling in love before marriage was seen as a disruptive, almost
antisocial act. The Greeks thought lovesickness was a type of insanity, a view that was
adopted by medieval commentators in Europe. In the Middle Ages the French defined
love as a "derangement of the mind" that could be cured by sexual intercourse, either
with the loved one or with a different partner.4 This cure assumed, as Oscar Wilde once
put it, that the quickest way to conquer yearning and temptation was to yield immediately
and move on to more important matters.

In China, excessive love between husband and wife was seen as a threat to the solidarity
of the extended family. Parents could force a son to divorce his wife if her behavior or
work habits didn't please them, whether or not he loved her. They could also require him
take a concubine if his wife did not produce a son. If a son's romantic attachment to his
wife rivaled his parents' claims on the couple's time and labor, the parents might even
send her back to her parents. In the Chinese language the term love did not traditionally
apply to feelings between husband and wife. It was used to describe an illicit, socially
disapproved relationship. In the 1920s a group of intellectuals invented a new word for
love between spouses because they thought such a radical new idea required its own
special label.5

In Europe, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, adultery became idealized as the
highest form of love among the aristocracy. According to the Countess of Champagne, it
was impossible for true love to "exert its powers between two people who are married to
each other."6

In twelfth-century France, Andreas Capellanus, chaplain to Countess Marie of Troyes,


wrote a treatise on the principles of courtly love. The first rule was that "marriage is no
real excuse for not loving." But he meant loving someone outside the marriage. As late as
the eighteenth century the French essayist Montaigne wrote that any man who was in
love with his wife was a man so dull that no one else could love him.7

Courtly love probably loomed larger in literature than in real life. But for centuries,
noblemen and kings fell in love with courtesans rather than the wives they married for
political reasons. Queens and noblewomen had to be more discreet than their husbands,
but they too looked beyond marriage for love and intimacy.

This sharp distinction between love and marriage was common among the lower and
middle classes as well. Many of the songs and stories popular among peasants in
medieval Europe mocked married love.

The most famous love affair of the Middle Ages was that of Peter Abelard, a well-known
theologian in France, and Héloïse, the brilliant niece of a fellow churchman at Notre
Dame. The two eloped without marrying, and she bore him a child. In an attempt to save
his career but still placate Héloïse's furious uncle, Abelard proposed they marry in secret.
This would mean that Héloïse would not be living in sin, while Abelard could still pursue
his church ambitions. But Heloise resisted the idea, arguing that marriage would not only
harm his career but also undermine their love.8
"Nothing Is More Impure Than to Love One's Wife as if She Were a Mistress"9

Even in societies that esteemed married love, couples were expected to keep it under
strict control. In many cultures, public displays of love between husband and wife were
considered unseemly. A Roman was expelled from the Senate because he had kissed his
wife in front of his daughter. Plutarch conceded that the punishment was somewhat
extreme but pointed out that everyone knew that it was "disgraceful" to kiss one's wife in
front of others.10

Some Greek and Roman philosophers even said that a man who loved his wife with
"excessive" ardor was "an adulterer." Many centuries later Catholic and Protestant
theologians argued that husbands and wives who loved each other too much were
committing the sin of idolatry. Theologians chided wives who used endearing nicknames
for their husbands, because such familiarity on a wife's part undermined the husband's
authority and the awe that his wife should feel for him. Although medieval Muslim
thinkers were more approving of sexual passion between husband and wife than were
Christian theologians, they also insisted that too much intimacy between husband and
wife weakened a believer's devotion to God. And, like their European counterparts,
secular writers in the Islamic world believed that love thrived best outside marriage.11

Many cultures still frown on placing love at the center of marriage. In Africa, the Fulbe
people of northern Cameroon do not see love as a legitimate emotion, especially within
marriage. One observer reports that in conversations with their neighbors, Fulbe women
"vehemently deny emotional attachment to a husband." In many peasant and working-
class communities, too much love between husband and wife is seen as disruptive
because it encourages the couple to withdraw from the wider web of dependence that
makes the society work.12

As a result, men and women often relate to each other in public, even after marriage,
through the conventions of a war between the sexes, disguising the fondness they may
really feel. They describe their marital behavior, no matter how exemplary it may
actually be, in terms of convenience, compulsion, or self-interest rather than love or
sentiment. In Cockney rhyming slang, the term for wife is trouble and strife.

Whether it is valued or not, love is rarely seen as the main ingredient for marital success.
Among the Taita of Kenya, recognition and approval of married love are widespread. An
eighty-year-old man recalled that his fourth wife "was the wife of my heart....I could look
at her and no words would pass, just a smile." In this society, where men often take
several wives, women speak wistfully about how wonderful it is to be a "love wife." But
only a small percentage of Taita women experience this luxury, because a Taita man
normally marries a love wife only after he has accumulated a few more practical
wives.13

In many cultures, love has been seen as a desirable outcome of marriage but not as a good
reason for getting married in the first place. The Hindu tradition celebrates love and
sexuality in marriage, but love and sexual attraction are not considered valid reasons for
marriage. "First we marry, then we'll fall in love" is the formula. As recently as 1975, a
survey of college students in the Indian state of Karnataka found that only 18 percent
"strongly" approved of marriages made on the basis of love, while 32 percent completely
disapproved.14

Similarly, in early modern Europe most people believed that love developed after
marriage. Moralists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries argued that if a husband
and wife each had a good character, they would probably come to love each other. But
they insisted that youths be guided by their families in choosing spouses who were worth
learning to love. It was up to parents and other relatives to make sure that the woman had
a dowry or the man had a good yearly income. Such capital, it was thought, would
certainly help love flower.15

"[I]t Made Me Really Sick, Just as I Have Formerly Been When in Love with My Wife"

I don't believe that people of the past had more control over their hearts than we do today
or that they were incapable of the deep love so many individuals now hope to achieve in
marriage. But love in marriage was seen as a bonus, not as a necessity. The great Roman
statesman Cicero exchanged many loving letters with his wife, Terentia, during their
thirty-year marriage. But that didn't stop him from divorcing her when she was no longer
able to support him in the style to which he had become accustomed.16

Sometimes people didn't have to make such hard choices. In seventeenth-century


America, Anne Bradstreet was the favorite child of an indulgent father who gave her the
kind of education usually reserved for elite boys. He later arranged her marriage to a
cherished childhood friend who eventually became the governor of Massachusetts.
Combining love, duty, material security, and marriage was not the strain for her that it
was for many men and women of that era. Anne wrote love poems to her husband that
completely ignored the injunction of Puritan ministers not to place one's spouse too high
in one's affections. "If ever two were one," she wrote him, "then surely we; if ever man
were loved by wife, then thee....I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold, or all the
riches that the East doth hold; my love is such that rivers cannot quench, nor ought but
love from thee, give recompense."17

The famous seventeenth-century English diarist Samuel Pepys chose to marry for love
rather than profit. But he was not as lucky as Anne. After hearing a particularly stirring
piece of music, Pepys recorded that it "did wrap up my soul so that it made me really
sick, just as I have formerly been when in love with my wife."18 Pepys would later
disinherit a nephew for marrying under the influence of so strong yet transient an
emotion.

There were always youngsters who resisted the pressures of parents, kin, and neighbors
to marry for practical reasons rather than love, but most accepted or even welcomed the
interference of parents and others in arranging their marriages. A common saying in early
modern Europe was "He who marries for love has good nights and bad days." Nowadays
a bitter wife or husband might ask, "Whatever possessed me to think I loved you enough
to marry you?" Through most of the past, he or she was more likely to have asked,
"Whatever possessed me to marry you just because I loved you?"

"Happily Ever After"

Through most of the past, individuals hoped to find love, or at least "tranquil affection,"
in marriage.19 But nowhere did they have the same recipe for marital happiness that
prevails in most contemporary Western countries. Today there is general agreement on
what it takes for a couple to live "happily ever after." First, they must love each other
deeply and choose each other unswayed by outside pressure. From then on, each must
make the partner the top priority in life, putting that relationship above any and all
competing ties. A husband and wife, we believe, owe their highest obligations and
deepest loyalties to each other and the children they raise. Parents and in-laws should not
be allowed to interfere in the marriage. Married couples should be best friends, sharing
their most intimate feelings and secrets. They should express affection openly but also
talk candidly about problems. And of course they should be sexually faithful to each
other.

This package of expectations about love, marriage, and sex, however, is extremely rare.
When we look at the historical record around the world, the customs of modern America
and Western Europe appear exotic and exceptional.

Leo Tolstoy once remarked that all happy families are alike, while every unhappy family
is unhappy in its own way. But the more I study the history of marriage, the more I think
the opposite is true. Most unhappy marriages in history share common patterns, leaving
their tear-stained—and sometimes bloodstained—records across the ages. But each
happy, successful marriage seems to be happy in its own way. And for most of human
history, successful marriages have not been happy in our way.

A woman in ancient China might bring one or more of her sisters to her husband's home
as backup wives. Eskimo couples often had cospousal arrangements, in which each
partner had sexual relations with the other's spouse. In Tibet and parts of India, Kashmir,
and Nepal, a woman may be married to two or more brothers, all of whom share sexual
access to her.20

In modern America, such practices are the stuff of trash TV: "I caught my sister in bed
with my husband"; "My parents brought their lovers into our home"; "My wife slept with
my brother"; "It broke my heart to share my husband with another woman." In other
cultures, individuals often find such practices normal and comforting. The children of
Eskimo cospouses felt that they shared a special bond, and society viewed them as
siblings. Among Tibetan brothers who share the same wife, sexual jealousy is rare.21

In some cultures, cowives see one another as allies rather than rivals. In Botswana,
women add an interesting wrinkle to the old European saying "Woman's work is never
done." There they say: "Without cowives, a woman's work is never done." A researcher
who worked with the Cheyenne Indians of the United States in the 1930s and 1940s told
of a chief who tried to get rid of two of his three wives. All three women defied him,
saying that if he sent two of them away, he would have to give away the third as well.22

Even when societies celebrated the love between husband and wife as a pleasant by-
product of marriage, people rarely had a high regard for marital intimacy. Chinese
commentators on marriage discouraged a wife from confiding in her husband or telling
him about her day. A good wife did not bother her husband with news of her own
activities and feelings but treated him "like a guest," no matter how long they had been
married. A husband who demonstrated open affection for his wife, even at home, was
seen as having a weak character.23

In the early eighteenth century, American lovers often said they looked for "candor" in
each other. But they were not talking about the soul-baring intimacy idealized by modern
Americans, and they certainly did not believe that couples should talk frankly about their
grievances. Instead candor meant fairness, kindliness, and good temper. People wanted a
spouse who did not pry too deeply. The ideal mate, wrote U.S. President John Adams in
his diary, was willing "to palliate faults and Mistakes, to put the best Construction upon
Words and Action, and to forgive Injuries."24

Modern marital advice books invariably tell husbands and wives to put each other first.
But in many societies, marriage ranks very low in the hierarchy of meaningful
relationships. People's strongest loyalties and emotional connections may be reserved for
members of their birth families. On the North American plains in the 1930s, a Kiowa
Indian woman commented to a researcher that "a woman can always get another
husband, but she has only one brother." In China it was said that "you have only one
family, but you can always get another wife." In Christian texts prior to the seventeenth
century, the word love usually referred to feelings toward God or neighbors rather than
toward a spouse.25

In Confucian philosophy, the two strongest relationships in family life are between father
and son and between elder brother and younger brother, not between husband and wife.
In thirteenth-century China the bond between father and son was so much stronger than
the bond between husband and wife that legal commentators insisted a couple do nothing
if the patriarch of the household raped his son's wife. In one case, although the judge was
sure that a woman's rape accusation against her father-in-law was true, he ordered the
young man to give up his sentimental desire "to grow old together" with his wife. Loyalty
to parents was paramount, and therefore the son should send his wife back to her own
father, who could then marry her to someone else. Sons were sometimes ordered beaten
for siding with their wives against their father. No wonder that for 1,700 years women in
one Chinese province guarded a secret language that they used to commiserate with each
other about the griefs of marriage.26

In many societies of the past, sexual loyalty was not a high priority. The expectation of
mutual fidelity is a rather recent invention. Numerous cultures have allowed husbands to
seek sexual gratification outside marriage. Less frequently, but often enough to challenge
common preconceptions, wives have also been allowed to do this without threatening the
marriage. In a study of 109 societies, anthropologists found that only 48 forbade
extramarital sex to both husbands and wives.27

When a woman has sex with someone other than her husband and he doesn't object,
anthropologists have traditionally called it wife loaning. When a man does it, they call it
male privilege. But in some societies the choice to switch partners rests with the woman.
Among the Dogon of West Africa, young married women publicly pursued extramarital
relationships with the encouragement of their mothers. Among the Rukuba of Nigeria, a
wife can take a lover at the time of her first marriage. This relationship is so embedded in
accepted custom that the lover has the right, later in life, to ask his former mistress to
marry her daughter to his son.28

Among the Eskimo of northern Alaska, as I noted earlier, husbands and wives, with
mutual consent, established comarriages with other couples. Some anthropologists
believe cospouse relationships were a more socially acceptable outlet for sexual attraction
than was marriage itself. Expressing open jealousy about the sexual relationships
involved was considered boorish.29

Such different notions of marital rights and obligations made divorce and remarriage less
emotionally volatile for the Eskimo than it is for most modern Americans. In fact, the
Eskimo believed that a remarried person's partner had an obligation to allow the former
spouse, as well as any children of that union, the right to fish, hunt, and gather in the new
spouse's territory.30

Several small-scale societies in South America have sexual and marital norms that are
especially startling for Europeans and North Americans. In these groups, people believe
that any man who has sex with a woman during her pregnancy contributes part of his
biological substance to the child. The husband is recognized as the primary father, but the
woman's lover or lovers also have paternal responsibilities, including the obligation to
share food with the woman and her child in the future. During the 1990s researchers
taking life histories of elderly Bari women in Venezuela found that most had taken lovers
during at least one of their pregnancies. Their husbands were usually aware and did not
object. When a woman gave birth, she would name all the men she had slept with since
learning she was pregnant, and a woman attending the birth would tell each of these men:
"You have a child."31

In Europe and the United States today such an arrangement would be a surefire recipe for
jealousy, bitter breakups, and very mixed-up kids. But among the Bari people this
practice was in the best interests of the child. The secondary fathers were expected to
provide the child with fish and game, with the result that a child with a secondary father
was twice as likely to live to the age of fifteen as a brother or sister without such a
father.32

Few other societies have incorporated extramarital relationships so successfully into


marriage and child rearing. But all these examples of differing marital and sexual norms
make it difficult to claim there is some universal model for the success or happiness of a
marriage.

About two centuries ago Western Europe and North America developed a whole set of
new values about the way to organize marriage and sexuality, and many of these values
are now spreading across the globe. In this Western model, people expect marriage to
satisfy more of their psychological and social needs than ever before. Marriage is
supposed to be free of the coercion, violence, and gender inequalities that were tolerated
in the past. Individuals want marriage to meet most of their needs for intimacy and
affection and all their needs for sex.

Never before in history had societies thought that such a set of high expectations about
marriage was either realistic or desirable. Although many Europeans and Americans
found tremendous joy in building their relationships around these values, the adoption of
these unprecedented goals for marriage had unanticipated and revolutionary
consequences that have since come to threaten the stability of the entire institution.

Introduction

The age of marriage has changed drastically of the 20 century among women. An
example given by Oppenheimer (1997) indicates that the single rates for women under 25
years rose from 14% in the 1960’s to 42% in the 1960’s. This suggest that either women
have found a viable alternative to marriage before that age or that circumstances are
forcing them not to marry by that age. A number of theories are mentioned in the studied
texts that can be categorised into economic, socioeconomic and sociological theories. In
this essay i will be discussing Becker’s “new home economic theory” which describes
household activities as a sum of economic functions and consequently how the
industrialization process affects the marriage process. I will also be discussing
socioeconomic theory that shows how social factors coalesce with economic factors to
cause the delay in marriage timing.

Economic theory as defined by the Princeton University online glossary is a theory of


commercial activities such as the production and consumption of goods. With respect to
this essay economic theory states that women’s increase in economic independence has
led to a reduction in marriage desirability (Berk 1983). This is attributed in the new
home economic theory (Becker) to the industrialization process that has lead to many
women foregoing household economic functions for careers that supplied them with
income security hence reducing their dependence on the men for their daily needs. Hence
this theory holds in part a decline to gains in marriage due to women independence is
reason why there is an increase in delayed marriages.
Becker postulates that the main gain to marriage is due to the mutual dependence of both
spouses due to their own specialized nature. This implies that while the woman would be
concerned with household activities the man would be in charge of finding an income
that would supply the family needs. Hence as women tend to take new economic roles as
a result of industrialization they become less specialized in household activities and men
also begin to take up new household roles.

Parsons (1949) maintains that sex role segregation is a functional necessity in the stability
of marriage because it prevents disruptive competition between husband and wife. Becker
(1981) in line with this thought views married men and women as potential trading
partners with man focusing on market work while women are concerned with home
production. This specialization provides major gains to marriage for each partner and is
reduced when incomes fall and the woman is forced to participate in the market
production. This leads to strain in marriages and consequently divorce and also a delay
factor in single couples with women now tending to focus on the more economic aspects
of her life.

Part of the economic theory can be explained from the young men’s income position,
which is a largely ignored factor with regards to analyzing the change in marriage age.
Young men tend to wait until they have established a career path before they get married.
This largely because of their role as the provider in the family and the challenges with
become the head of the household. This has led to suicides, divorce and many men
absconding their duties due to the pressure of maintaining an economically sound
household. In the industrial age the gains for marriage for men are declining because of
increased participation of women in the labour market. This increase the delay in age of
marriage for men as they find it hard to find a woman that supports his own agenda for
his career by providing for his needs at home.

While having had a look at various explanations of the economic theory proposed by
Becker, we can also show how sociological theory can help construct a framework
Oppenheimer uses to analyze variously how social action, social processes, and social
structures work. Oppenheimer further develops the theory into a socioeconomic theory by
borrowing Becker’s ideas on the economic aspects of marriage and merging with social
occurrences that also influence the marriage timing of the cohort. Oppenheimer (1997)
indicates that marriages tend to be delayed due to the trend in many couples to cohabit
before they marry. Oppenheimer postulates that in the 1940’s 3% of the women less than
25 years cohabited compared to 37% in the 1960’s. Hence cohabitation seems to
becoming a stage in the marriage process. This process of cohabitation shows that
women’s economic independence is not the answer to explaining why women are now
marrying much later.

Cohabitation as a social occurrence also reduces the cost of search and also reduces the
risk of promiscuity while pooling resources creating a more stable economic environment
that can lead to successful marriages. Therefore cohabitation and the rise in delayed
marriages is decreasing the rate of marital instability due to the stable nature of partners
who tend to have delayed their marriage as opposed to those who marry young and
consequently face greater stress due to lower capacities to deal with household challenges
like providing for the family health, financial and social needs. However Oppenheimer
states that the situation is different among African American women who for one reason
or another find themselves as single parents and have to find their own economic
independence in order to survive.

Another issue is the increase in selection and socialization in the search of the marriage
partner as a result of socioeconomic issues that are arising due to the continuous
industrial process .Hence assortative mating is reduced due to uncertainty about the
important attributes that a prospective partner should possess leads to delay in the timing
for marriage. Uncertainty also due to the establishment of ones own career also delays the
timing in which a person thinks is the best time to get married in the industrial society.
Oppenheimer argues that work is such an influence in structuring life that any career
uncertainties will affect behaviour and attitudes towards marriage formation. This results
in women not feeling ready to marry until they have achieved some career goals. As a
result the search for the perfect partner with desired characteristics, like being able to
provide economically or possessing certain abilities that show future economic
achievements come into play in this socialization process. This shows that desirability
may not necessarily be objective but is influenced by certain fantasies a woman may have
with regards to a perfect partner. This analysis shows that in general women tend to be
economically dependent on men even though they may have their own working careers.
Hence the theory of economic independence theory does not hold against this
sociological argument.

Using the Job search economic theory to describe search in marriage we can differentiate
efficient searches from costly ones as a function of how one uses time and resources to
efficiently find the right partner in the marriage market while observing the opportunity
cost of keeping a certain partner or continuing with the search of another partner. Hence
we can say if the opportunity cost of avoiding the search for a suitable partner is high
then it might be better to delay ones marriage until it becomes less economically sound
( i.e when cost of the search is equal or higher than the returns of the search) to continue
with the search. Therefore what tends to happen is that people will tend to look for the
minimum acceptable match. This is described as anyone within the acceptability range;
anyone who falls out of this range is deemed unacceptable and would therefore not be
considered as a partner. However it may not be prudent to view the marriage search
process from a purely economic point of view but from a social one as well, where we
consider both the social and emotional aspects of a relationship and how they support the
build up to marriage rather than the economic and financial aspects of the partnership.
This dual assessment of marriage form a socioeconomic theory on how financial or
economic factors participate with the social environment of dating or potential couples in
the search process, resulting in a change in the age of marriage due to the delay in the
search process.

Another crucial point to mention with regards to marriage search is how education plays
a role in the increasing the efficiency of the search process. Educated people tend to be
aware of more important characteristics that they need to look out for during the search as
opposed to the young couples who start dating at an early age. Hence it would be better
for people to delay the marriage selection process until they are confident that they have
made an educated decision. This socialization process increases the stability of marriage.

In conclusion new home economic theory as proposed by Becker leaves out a lot of
social actions that have been shown by Oppenheimer to contribute to the delay in the age
of marriage in Industrial society. It is therefore in my view prudent to develop a
socioeconomic theory based on empirical evidence to show how social and economic
factors correlate. Oppenheimer in my view has reliable theories that explain both the
social and economic aspects of marriage and hence we are able to arrive at more sound
conclusions as to why age of marriage is increasing among men and women.

References

Oppenheimer, V. K. (1997). Women’s employment and the gain to marriage: the


specialization and trading model. Annual Review of Sociology, 23, 431-453

Oppenheimer, V. K. (1988). A theory of marriage timing: American Journal of


Sociology, 97(1), 143-168

Pampel, F. C. and Peters, H. E. (1995). The Easterlin Effect. Annual Review of


Sociology, 21, 163-194

Berj, R. A. and Berk, S. F. (1983). Supply-side sociology of the family; the challenge of
the new home economics. Annual Review of Sociology, 9, 375-395

-----Age and the Sociology of Fertility: How Old is Too Old?

Citation: Rindfuss, Ronald R., Bumpass, Larry (1978) Age and the Sociology of Fertility:
How Old is Too Old?.

Tagged:

Summary:

Notes: In this article Rindfuss and Bumpass argue that while age has a strong biological
effect on fertility, biology is not the only way in which age affects fertility. There is also
a sociological component. Age is an important consideration in a couple's decision with
respect to the termination of fertility. Age also effects the choice of contraceptive method
and the vigilance with which contraception is practiced. Age differentials in contraceptive
failure may be interpreted as reflecting this component as well as differential fecundity.

The longer that a woman postpones childbearing, the greater the likelihood that she will
get involved in other ego-involved activities that consume time and energy. Postponing
childbearing increases that likelihood that other members of the woman's cohort will
have completed their childbearing, creating a loss of important advice and support. There
is also the concern that with increasing age, the partners may not have sufficient time and
energy to cope with a child. There may be normative bounds prescribing the 'proper' time
for childbearing.

Using data from the 1970 and 1965 National Fertility Study, the authors analyze whether
or not the respondent intends to have more children, controlling for age, age of youngest
child, parity, education, race, religion, age at marriage, and the length of the interval
between marriage and the birth of the first child. The sample is limited to married women
ages 25-34, who are without known or suspected fecundity problems. For any given
parity, the proportion intending to have more children is strongly and inversely related to
age. The effects of both age and age of youngest child are substantial even after all of the
other variables are controlled.

In other analyses about one-third of the difference in fertility by age at first marriage can
be explained by differential in sterility and unwanted births. The remaining difference
may be interpretable in terms of the sociological effects described above. The authors test
whether these effects are the same for second marriages. The regress intended fertility in
the second marriage (sum of wanted births born in 2nd marriage and additional intended
children) on age, age at second marriage, number of previous children, reason for
previous marital dissolution, education of wife, education of current husband, race of
wife, and religion of wife. The results show that mean fertility decreases as age at second
marriage increases. Even when age at first marriage, length of first marriage, and length
of marital disruption are controlled, age at second marriage retains its significance.

The authors conclude that changes or differences in the timing of fertility are associated
with differences in the ultimate amount of childbearing. The sociological meanings of
age as they affect fertility decisions are seen as the critical link in this relationship. The
question how old is too old? is a question about the relative childbearing pace of one's
peer, internalized ideal life cycles, and the expectations of significant others.
NEW DELHI: In a sign of changing times and priorities, majority of the Indian youth
feels thirties is the right age to get married and start a family.

A recent international survey found 79 per cent of the Indian youths, who were
questioned, vouching for thirties as the right time to tie the knot, higher than the global
figure of 77 per cent.
"The new generation is more career-oriented and is reluctant to assume other
responsibilities before their career objectives are fulfilled," said Sarang Panchal,
Executive Director, South Asia, of AC Nielsen which conducted the survey.

People generally attain a degree of stability in terms of career around the age of 30 years
and hence there has been an increasing trend where people prefer to get married in their
thirties, he said.

Marriage is no longer a life goal for a large number of Indian youth who are now more
career-oriented.

Only 53 per cent of respondents in India consider marriage a life goal, one of the lowest
in the Asia Pacific region.

However, for 61 per cent people across the globe, marriage is a major goal in life, with
Indonesians topping the chart with 87 per cent giving utmost importance to it.

Indian J Behav. 1991 Apr;15(2):35-9.


Opinions of educated youth towards age at marriage and difference in age between
partners.

Patravali P, Gaonkar V.

PIP: Professors conducted a survey of 160 18-24 year old students attending 4 colleges of
Dharwad city of Karnataka in India to examine their opinion concerning ideal marriage
age and age difference between spouses. Females tended to prefer a higher marriage age
for males than did males (26.5 vs. 25.5), but the difference was not significant. Rural
males believed the ideal marriage age for females be 20 years whereas rural females
believed it to be 22 years (p .05). Urban females also believed it to be 22 years and urban
males reported 21 years. Most students (57.5%), especially 18-19 year olds (77.5%) and
females (61.77% vs. 56.36% for males), said the ideal age difference between spouses
was under 5 years. Students who were at least 24 years old tended to state 5-10 (60%).
Males also preferred this age difference (42.06% vs. 38.23% for females). 2 20-23 year
old male students believed the ideal age difference to be more than 10 years. Students'
age was significantly associated with their opinion on the ideal age difference between
spouses (p .05). Students from extended families and rural areas tended to prefer a 5-10
year age difference between the spouses with a few mentioning more than 10 years
whereas students from nuclear families and urban areas preferred under 5 years with no
one mentioning more than 10 years (p .05). These results indicated that both males and
females prefer to marry after they have completed their education. The advantages of
schooling including improved thinking and decision-making abilities allow them to
wisely allocate family resources and decide upon an ideal family size.
PMID: 12286491 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Career Dev Q. 1992 Mar;40(3):234-43.


Is there a time for everything? Attitudes related to women's sequencing of career and
family.

Sullivan SE.

PIP: Attitudes affecting career and family choices are examined in a sample of 203 US
university business students, both male and female. 4 sequencing patterns were
examined: the timing of marriage and career, simultaneously balancing career and family,
the timing of career and children, and the choice of career with no children. Opinions
were sought about women's careers before marriage, careers before children, the ability to
balance children and career, and no children with a career. The results of the
intercorrelation matrix analysis showed that age, marital status, and number of children
were significantly correlated at a low level. Age and race were related to the belief that
women should have careers before marriage. Gender is related to the beliefs about
women's career before children, no children with a career, and the ability to balance a
career and children. Multiple regression resulted in gender differences: women were
significantly less likely to believe in no children with a career (t = 4.40, p 0.001). Women
were also more likely to believe that career comes before having children (t = 2.15, p .05)
and that women can successfully balance a career and children (t = 3.27, p .001). Race
and attitudes were also significantly related to sequencing career and marriage (t = 2.64, p
.01). The belief that women should establish their careers before marriage was more
likely to occur among minorities, which was an unexpected finding. The implication is
that men are more traditional in their beliefs about working women and marriage.
Additional research is suggested on the examination of the relationship between race,
nationality, and attitudes about the sequencing of career and marriage. An instrument that
measures women's development and the factors influencing sequencing decisions at
different career stages is needed. Questions remain unanswered about whether women
desiring children choose less demanding careers, whether women's choice of career or
employer is influenced by family considerations, and the relationship between husband's
and wive's career ideals and their plans for children. The implications for counselors are
that women need to be made aware of the options available and advantages and
disadvantages for the sequencing of career and family. Conflict may occur with the
spouse over sequencing choices. Additional counseling in various stages of a career is
also important.

PMID: 12344925 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

MeSH Terms
LinkOut - more resources
Supplemental Content
Related articles
Family life cycle and labour force behaviour of married women.
Int J Sociol Fam. 1992 Spring; 22(1):119-35.

[Int J Sociol Fam. 1992]


Productive and reproductive choices: report of a pilot survey of urban working women in
Karachi.

Pak Dev Rev. 1986 Winter; 25(4):593-608.

[Pak Dev Rev. 1986]


The relationship of self-esteem, maternal employment, and work-family plans to sex role
orientations of late adolescents.

Adolescence. 1988 Winter; 23(92):959-66.

[Adolescence. 1988]
Review
Women's work roles and their impact on health, well-being, and career: comparisons
between the United States, Sweden, and The Netherlands.

Women Health. 2000; 31(4):1-20.

[Women Health. 2000]


Review
Treatment for alcohol-related problems: special populations: research opportunities.

Recent Dev Alcohol. 2003; 16:313-33.

[Recent Dev Alcohol. 2003]


» See reviews... | » See all...
Recent activity
Clear
Turn Off
Is there a time for everything? Attitudes related to women's sequencing of career and
fami...
Related Articles for PubM...
Asia Pac Pop Policy. 1992 Sep;(22):1-4.
Age at marriage is rising for Asian women and men, according to new data.

Greenspan A.

PIP: The social transformations in Asia are described: delayed age at marriage and the
proportions marrying. Policy implications are ascertained. The norm for female age at
marriage has risen from 15 years to 17-18 years in south Asia, and from 18 years to 24
years and older in east Asia. Men's marriage age has also risen but not as much.
Concurrent changes have occurred with fertility declines and small family sizes and
lower population growth, with changing roles for women, and with emergent youth
subcultures and increased prevalence of premarital sexual behavior. The number of
singles is rising and expected to continue to rise. Examples are given of marriage age
changes for Nepal and Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea, and regional
totals. Southeast Asian countries experienced less dramatic changes, and changes
primarily in the 20-24 year old group (from 30% to 74% of single women). Change for
men has been less regular and with less magnitude. In Southeast Asia, the rise in
marriage age for men has risen only 1-2 years compared with women. East Asia patterns
vary by country, i.e., South Korean increases of 6 years, Taiwanese increases of 4 years,
and 2 years in Japan. Single males have been common in South and Southeast Asia,
while in East Asia married male teens 25 years are rare. Marriage timing for men is not as
closely associated as for women with social and cultural change. Downturns for men
follow momentous, temporary disruptions such as happen during wars and periods of
migration, while women's patterns are more reflective of structural change. The trend for
never marrying is on the increase, particularly for men in Japan (1.1% in the 1920s to
18% in the early 1980s for men 50 years). Women not ever marrying are increasing in
Thailand, Bangladesh, and Hong Kong. Never marrying is common in urban or educated
populations, i.e., Singapore, Thailand, and Philippines. The implications are a longer gap
between successive generations and a shorter period of exposure to risk of conception.
Research findings have shown that a 1 year delay in age at 1st marriage reduces fertility
by 20% of a child. Schooling delays marriage age as well as marriage laws, but structural
and economic changes may be more important than policy changes. Policies affect the
status of women and opportunities.

PMID: 12285807 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

MeSH Terms

JohnKaranja.com and the title is “The change of the age of marriage in industrial
societies”. Posted by John Karanja on Nov 16th, 2008 and filed under Society.

Well, I believe it is a very relative issue...as the institution of marriage calls for
tremendous responsibility on the part of the boy and the girl, depending on the
individual's maturity, the step should be taken. And I think, in the urban areas the age has
stretched both for girls and boys...more so for girls as they wish to acquire a level of
social security that comes with economic independence, and that differs again with the
different types of cities-A,B,C types .In the A cities the girls push the age greater and
likewise. For the less educated and the naive, it may be alright to set these limits of 18
and 21 , and this more so to put brakes on child marriages which are still rampant in
certain parts of the country.

Hindu Philosophy of Marriage


by Dr. Sheenu Srinivasan
Centuries ago, civilized societies recognized and acknowledged the most basic instincts
of all - i.e., the need for companionship - and founded an honorable institution known as
marriage. Experience has shown that this institution can help navigate the complex ocean
of life full of conflicts, questions, concerns, temptations, joys, sorrows, ups and downs.
Hindu ancestors set aside some guidelines to make sure that the institution is a permanent
one capable of not only bringing happiness to two young people but also providing a
delicate balance so that the family enjoys the fullness of life within the framework of
what they called Dharma, the Hindu code of right conduct.

The subject matter of marriage has been discussed and debated ever since. The July 1989
issue of Readers Digest has an article entitled "Surprising Key to the Happiest Couples"
written by two psychologists who conclude that "Romance ‘talks’ about love but it is
friendship that puts love to the ultimate test". They continue and say "If there is one
prevailing wish that husbands and wives have for their marriage, it is to be close
companions for life. While many men and women know that love is essential for such a
lifelong bond, they often don't realize that love without close friendship is only a
hormonal illusion. One cannot desire another person over the long haul without really
being best friends with that person."

This may sound like a newly discovered concept by modern psychologists but an ancient
Hindu prince known as Yudhishtira revealed this "secret" about 4000 years ago. In an
episode known as Yaksha Prashna in the Aranya Parva of that great epic, the
Mahabharata, a divine being challenged the prince in exile to answer some questions,
satisfactory answers to which may help restore the lives of his “dead” brothers (See my
book Yaksha Prashna: A Hindu Primer, Second Edition, published by Periplus Lines
LLC and released by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore, April 2001). One of the
questions the Yaksha asked Yudhishtira was

"kimsvin mitram grhesatah?" i.e. Who is the friend of a householder?

To which the prince answered

"bhaaryaa mitram grhesatah," i.e., the friend of a householder is his spouse.

According to Hindus, therefore, the basis for marriage is friendship and such friendship is
the understanding, the promise and the commitment that unites a man and a woman. With
such authority, there is then no question about the role of a woman, her importance, her
position in this equation that binds them together.

Let us explore this further. In most Hindu wedding ceremonies, and


especially among South Indians, a climax is reached when a particular event
takes place. That peak in the ceremony known as Maangalyaddhaaranam
confirms for ever and seals the bond between the bride and the groom
through the tying of a golden necklace around the bride's neck by the groom.
Legally, ethically and morally that moment is the sacred moment in the
wedding when they become husband and wife. But what happens afterwards
is truly the most significant and meaningful for the rest of their life together.
Because, in a following ceremony known as saptapadi the bride and the
groom hold hands and take seven steps together as husband and wife as they
walk around Agni, the God of fire and pledge to each other their eternal
friendship. What they say after they have taken those seven steps is
unquestionably the foundation for a successful marriage. Together they
chant:

sakhaa sapta padi bhava sakhyam te gameyam


sakhyam te mayoshah sakhyam te mayoshtah

“With these seven steps you have become my friend. May I deserve your
friendship. May my friendship make me one with you. May your friendship
make you one with me.” Anyone who has had any question about the role of
a woman in Hindu marriage should pay special attention to the charge and
blessing by the presiding priest at the end of the saptapadi. He recites:
Samraajni shvashurebhava Be queenly with your father-in-law
Samraajni shvashruvaambhava Be queenly with your mother-in-law
Nanandaari saamraajnibhava Be queenly with his sisters
Saamraajni adhidevrshu Be queenly with his brothers.

Nothing short of the status of a queen is what the scriptures prescribe. Hindu
ancestors went even further: they blessed the bride by saying; "murdhaanam
patyuraroha," i.e., "May your husband keep you on his head, meaning "let
him respect you.”

There are in fact two more questions in the Yaksha Prashna where this
subject matter comes up. In one question the Yaksha asks Yudhishtira:

kimsvid daiva krita sakha? Who is man's god-given friend?

Yudhishtira's answer was:


bhaaryaa daivakrita sakha- a man's God-given friend is his wife.
Again the basis of friendship in marriage is emphasized.
The basis of Hinduism is rooted in the Vedas composed around 1500 B.C. or
earlier. A specific reference to the wedding ceremony of Suryaa (daughter of
Surya, the sun god) is found in the Rig Veda. The Vedic ideal of marriage,
according to Abhinash Chandra Bose (The Call of the Vedas, page 259,
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1970) "is that of perfect monogamy, the life-long
companionship of two people.”

A serious study of the Vedas reveals how practical the findings of the
ancient sages truly are. Some Vedic prayers blended into a wedding
ceremony are directed towards acquiring intellectual power, wisdom,
efficiency, spiritual vigor, higher talent etc. leading to Brahmateja - the
radiance of intellect. Other prayers are for strength, valor, power,
fearlessness and qualities of heroism leading to Kshaatraveerya - the
physical prowess. Acquisition of these two attributes, in Hindu thought,
leads to fulfillment of Chaturvidhaphalapurushaarttha, the four aspects of
life known as Dharma, Artha and Kama leading to the fourth- the complete
release of bondage and to total freedom known as Moksha. Dharma truly
forms the very core of Hindu philosophy (See my paper Dharmo Rakshati
Rakshitaha, Bhavan’s Journal, June 2005.) The inclusion of Artha (financial
aspect) and Kama (aspects of love) in this series confirms the practicality of
Vedic thought.
The demands of Artha and Kama in the life of married people are in
apparent conflict with the dictates of Dharma and Moksha. How does the
Hindu resolve this apparent contradiction? This in fact was the third
question on the subject asked of Yudhishtira by the Yaksha:

dharmashcaarthasca kaamashca paraspara virodhinah


eshaam nitya viruddhaanam katthamekatra sangamah

Dharma, arttha and kama conflict with each other. How can these contraries
be reconciled? How can a householder necessarily involved in the pursuit of
good life seeking arttha and kaama in raising a family and serving a
community not find himself in conflict with Dharma and how can he strive
for moksha? Notice that Artha and Kama are safely sandwiched between
Dharma and Moksha. If salvation is to be your goal, the ancient Hindus said,
then by all means practice fully in the affairs of the society, raise a family,
enjoy the good life in a responsible way, serve the community- all within the
framework of Dharma.
How does a grhasttha reconcile these contrary requirements? According to
Yudhishtira, there is only one way and that is

yada dharmasca bhaaryaca paraspara vashanugau


tada dharmaartha kamaanam trayaanamapi sangamah

“When dharma and one's wife are in harmony, then dharma, artha and kama
are reconciled.”

That means, a person, in order to keep that delicate balance among the
attributes of arttha and kaama, has to have a spouse who is dhaarmic. It is
that protection coming from such a spouse, that torch light, that spirit of
friendship and cooperation and sacrifice that gives a reasonable chance for a
couple to succeed in meeting this challenge of conflicting attributes.

Each step in a Vedic wedding ceremony conveys implicitly or explicitly an


understanding between the couple. The life companion inherited this burden
of providing the umbrella of Dharma so that the family she was going to
raise - her own family - would be a Dhaarmic one. That is why a Hindu wife
is not simply called a patni (wife) but she is always referred to as
Dharmapatni, wife-in-Dharma. This then is the reason for that very special,
very unique, very necessary role a woman was called upon to play in the
Hindu household. http://www.orientalia.org/article709.html-(Speech
delivered at a Seminar on "Marriage of Hindu Youth in America" sponsored
jointly by the Connecticut Chapter of the Vishva Hindu Parishad of America
and the Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society on July 23, 1989 at the
Academy School in Glastonbury, Connecticut)

Marriage

There is very little evidence of child (or infant) marriage in


the Rig Veda. A girl was married at 16 or more years of age, when her
physical development was complete. Marriage was solemnized soon after
marriage. The Vedic rituals presuppose that the married pair was grown up
enough to be lovers, man and wife, and parents of children (marriage hymn
140 and 141). These go to show that a girl was married after she attained
puberty. Surya, the daughter of Surya (the Sun), was married to Soma (the
Moon), only when she became youthful and yearned for a husband.

The Rig-Veda (v, 7, 9) refers to young maidens completing their education as


brahmacharins and then gaining husbands. The Vedas say that an educated
girl should be married to an equally educated man “An unmarried young
learned daughter should be married to a bridegroom who like her is learned.
Never think of giving in marriage a daughter of very young
age’” (RV 3.55.16).
www.vedah.com/org2/literature/pdf_docs/Atharva_Veda.pd

Young women of the time could exercise their choice in the matter of their
marriage. "The woman who is of gentle birth and of graceful form," so runs a
verse in the Rig Veda, "selects among many of her loved one as her husband.
The term for the bridegroom was vara, the chosen one. ”The happy and
beautiful bride chooses (vanute) by herself (svayam) her own husband" RV
(27.12). The swayamvaras of the princesses are of course well documented.

Many marriages, as in the later day Hindu society today, involved the
intercession of the families on either side, but a maiden was consulted and
her wishes taken into account when the matrimonial alliance was discussed.
The marriage hymns 139 in the Rig-Veda and the Atharvaveda indicate that
the parties to marriage were generally grown up persons competent to woo
and be wooed, qualified to give consent and make choice.

Young girls had the freedom to go out to attend fairs, festivals and
assemblies’; the seclusion of women was not practiced. There is a reference
to certain occasional festivals or gatherings called Samanas organized to
help young boys and girls to get together. Rig Veda described Samana as
where: Wives and maidens attire themselves in gay robes and set forth to
the joyous feast; youths and maidens hasten to the meadow when forest and
field are clothed in fresh verdure to take part in dance. Cymbals sound and
seizing each other lads and damsels whirl a about until the ground vibrates
and clouds of dust envelop the gaily moving throng. A girl often chose one of
the suitors whom she met in these Samanas as her husband.
http://books.google.com/books?
id=SZhCm7ajencC&pg=PA358&lpg=PA358&dq=given+below+is+a+description+of+a+samana+from+th
e+%22rig+veda%22&source=web&ots=IhUPaCq0w_&sig=SH9Eg8xG9hssfTr-ghF-AkKMawI

Rig Veda talks of the seven steps and vows based on mutual respect, taken
during marriage

A friend thou shall be, having paced these seven steps with me. Nay, having
paced the seven steps, we have become friends. May I retain thy friendship,
and never part from thy friendship. Let us unite together: let us propose
together. Loving each other and ever radiant in each other’s company,
meaning well towards each other, sharing together all enjoyments and
pleasures, let us join our thoughts.

(Source: Taittiriya Ekagnikanda, I iii, 14. ; Sastri, 1918.)

It was appears that the bride was given by her parents gold, cattle,
horses, valuables , articles etc. which she carried to her new home .She
had a right to deal with it as she pleased. No doubt the dowry a girl brought
with her did render her more attractive. “Howmuch a maiden is pleasing to
the suitor who would marry for her splendid riches? If the girl be both
good and fair of feature, she finds, herself, a friend among the people.
“(Rig-Veda X .27.12)

There were also the woes of a father,” When a man's daughter hath been
ever eyeless, who, knowing, will be wroth with her for blindness?
Which of the two will lose on him his anger-the man who leads her home or
he who woos her?” (RV 10.27.11)
Marriage was an established institution in the Vedic Age. It was regarded as
a social and religious duty; and not a contract. The husband-wife stood on
equal footing and prayed for long lasting love and friendship. At the wedding,
the bride addressed the assembly in which the sages too were present. [Rig
Veda (10.85.26-27)]

Marriage was not compulsory for a woman; an unmarried who stayed back in
the house of her parents was called Amajur, a girl who grew old at her
father’s house. An unmarried person was however not eligible to participate
in Vedic sacrifices.

A woman, if she chose, could marry even after the child bearing age. For
instance Gosha a well known female sage married at a late stage in her life
(her husband being another well known scholar of that time Kakasivan) as
she earlier suffered from some skin ailment.

Monogamy normally prevailed but polygamy was also in vogue .Some scholars
say that polyandry and divorce were also common. There are no direct
references to that. I am not therefore sure of that.

Widows were allowed to remarry if they so desired; and faced no


condemnation and ostracization socially.

Married life

A girl when she marries moves into another household where she becomes
part of it. Her gotra changes from that of her father into that of her
husband. She participates in performances of yagnas for devas and pitrs of
her husband’s family. The bride takes charge of her new family that includes
her husband, his parents, brothers and sisters; and others who lived there
for some reason.

The Rig Veda hymn (10, 85.27) ,the wedding prayer , indicates the rights of
a woman as wife. It is addressed to the bride sitting next to bridegroom. It
touches upon few other issues as well.

"Happy be you (as wife) in future and prosper with your children here (in the
house): be vigilant to rule your household in this home (i.e. exercise your
authority as the main figure in your home). Closely unite (be an active
participant) in marriage with this man, your husband. So shall you, full of
years (for a very long life), address your company (i.e. others in the house
listen to you, and obey and care about what you have to say)." (Rig Veda: 10,
85.27)

The famous marriage hymn (10.85) calls upon members of the husband’s
family to treat the daughter in law (invited into the family 'as a river enters
the sea') as the queen samrajni.

She is welcomed in many ways:

" Come, O desired of the gods, beautiful one with tender heart, with
the charming look, good towards your husband, kind towards animals,
destined to bring forth heroes. May you bring happiness for both our
quadrupeds and bipeds." (Rig Veda 10.85.44)

Over thy husband's father and thy husband's mother bear full sway. Over
the sister of thy lord , over his brothers rule supreme"(Rig Veda 10.85.46)

“Happy be thou and prosper with thy children here; be vigilant to rule thy
household, in this home ‘. (Rig-Veda 10.85.27)
The idea of equality is expressed in the Rig Veda: "The home has, verily, its
foundation in the wife”,” The wife and husband, being the equal halves of one
substance, are equal in every respect; therefore both should join and take
equal parts in all work, religious and secular." (RV 5, 61. 8)

She wasPathni (the one who leads the husband through life), Dharmapathni
(the one who guides the husband in dharma) and Sahadharmacharini (one who
moves with the husband on the path of dharma).

To sum up, one can say that the bride in the Vedic ideal of a household was
far from unimportant and weak. She did have an important position in the
family and yielded considerable influence.

http://groups.msn.com/hindu-history/rawarchives.msnw?
action=get_message&mview=0&ID_Message=181
1
http://www.stillwaterstudio.us/MyPhilosophyonMarriage.html
2
(http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=1065904)
The History of Human Marriage. Volume: 1. Contributors: Edward Westermarck - author. Macmillan, London, 1921. Page
Number: 26

3
Eleanor, Schick (1999). Navajo Wedding Day: A Dine Marriage Ceremony. Cavendish Children's Books.
ISBN 0761450319.
4
Westermarck, Edward, (1921) The History of Human Marriage Volume 1, p. 71. ISBN 0766146189.
5

http://www.orientalia.org/article709.html-, Dr. Sheenu Srinivasan, ‘Hindu Philosophy of Marriage’, (Speech delivered at a


Seminar on "Marriage of Hindu Youth in America" sponsored jointly by the Connecticut Chapter of the Vishva Hindu
Parishad of America and the Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society on July 23, 1989 at the Academy School in
Glastonbury, Connecticut)

6
Yaksha Prashna: A Hindu Primer, Second Edition, published by Periplus, Lines LLC , released by Bharatiya Vidya
Bhavan, Bangalore, April 2001
7

Yaksha Prashna: A Hindu Primer, Second Edition, published by Periplus, Lines LLC , released by Bharatiya Vidya
Bhavan, Bangalore, April 2001
8

Oppenheimer, V. K. (1997). Women’s employment and the gain to marriage: the specialization and trading model.
Annual Review of Sociology, 23, 431-453
9

Rindfuss, Ronald R., Bumpass, Larry (1978) Age and the Sociology of Fertility: How Old is Too Old?. .
(Berk 1983)
10

JohnKaranja.com and the title is “The change of the age of marriage in industrial societies”. Posted by John Karanja on
Nov 16th, 2008 and filed under Society