Are Love And Marriage Outdated Ideas?
Updated January 02, 2019
Reviewer Laura Angers
This past year has been very much a strong feminist revolution. Women are speaking out and are being stronger in their reactions to things that have been traditional roles. Recently there have been many moronic articles by men who consider themselves to be "incels" or involuntarily celibate, a sexist term that implies men are owed sex by the females of the population simply for the fact that they are men. This Neanderthal concept is surprisingly popular, and it's no wonder that women are striking back.
For thousands of years women have been valued by their vagina, and in many cases, nothing has changed. A woman's "worth" was all about her ability to marry well, her husband being the determining factor in her ultimate value.
What Was Marriage Traditionally For?
Traditionally, marriage was anything but a partnership. It was nothing more than a monetary transaction. In exchange for money (a dowry), the father of the bride essentially paid a man to marry her. In return, he would know she was taken care of. The husband would gain a confidant, mother to his children, and someone to manage his household. The wife was the image of domesticity, taking care (or at least overseeing) everything under their roof while the man of the house provided for her.
Even as late as the 1960s this was commonplace. Women always came second, even into the 20th century many women were unable to determine their own futures, and even now in middle eastern cultures, women cannot do anything without the approval of a male relative. Marriage for women was a necessity just to survive in many cases because it was financially impossible to do it on their own with the laws and societal expectations. Books like "A gentleman's guide to love and marriage" professed choosing a woman for her looks and biddability rather than any love or passion.
Traditional marriage is something women have definitely outgrown.
What Is A Modern Marriage?
Today most women see marriage as a way to publicly profess a commitment to their partner or show their love. The term partner has certain implications for equality that husband and wife may not, and it is also a term which is gender neutral allowing for a wider definition of marriage. Marriage is no longer viewed as a financial transaction because women can work, own property and live independently of their fathers and husbands. It can also be a sign of possession - saying this person is mine and no one else's. Marriage is no longer a necessity to ensure you'll be provided for but something that you choose to do because you want to.
Modern marriage has become symbolic more than anything, but is that symbolism important? Many couples are choosing not to get married.
Marriage includes a lot of financial stress with the common wedding costing upwards of $15-50 thousand or more. Some people spend as much as a million dollars on a wedding which may end up being annulled or divorced within a matter of days or weeks. The wedding industry is huge and often professes marriage as the ultimate expression of love despite the fact that many couples are happily together for decades without ever marrying (Kurt Russel and Goldie Hawn for example). The financial stress of a wedding alone is enough to break up a couple.
There are still positive financial implications with modern marriage. When you get married your tax status changes, your credit score may be affected and it can even cause your car insurance rates to change. Did you know that some car insurers will charge a woman more if she gets divorced because statistically she becomes a higher suicide risk even if she's not depressed and has never had a history? Just for being divorced. Marriage can save you money overall by consolidating assets with your partner even if you're already living together.
The divorce rate is now over 50%. That means that there is a greater likelihood your marriage will end up in failure than success. Divorce can be ugly, you'll end up paying money to your ex, to lawyers, and potentially lose your house or place to live. Legally, you then have to go through the hassle of splitting assets, changing names, and deciding who gets what. Not being married means no paperwork and while there may still be some assets to divide it's less likely to need lawyers and a court because you're going to still have separate assets that have not been consolidated.
Simply moving out and moving on is much easier than being legally required to separate, return to court at a later date, and continue being connected to a person you are no longer in a relationship with. It can also hinder your chances of finding your happily ever after as many people will refuse to date separated couples as there's a greater likelihood that they will reconcile than someone who was never married in the first place. Not being married helps to make your future options more flexible should things go wrong.
Socially marriage is still considered "the norm", but the push for relationships to end in marriage when dating has become a lot more casual is partially to blame for the increase in divorces. After X years it is simply expected that you get married so people do. It has nothing to do with whether that is the right choice for them or whether it's the best choice for the relationship it's just what you're supposed to do.
One of the most common reasons this happens is because someone gets pregnant. Under traditional marriage a woman would not have children before getting married because the children would be treated differently and stigmatized. Nowadays there's no reason why a woman has to be married to have children or become pregnant and sexual relations outside of marriage are more commonplace.
The result is that sometimes people rush to marry to keep this traditional concept without really taking into account what is best for them or the child. The marriage is simply convenient at the time so that the child is "legitimate" and fits within an archaic construct which definitely no longer applies. It has become more commonplace for parents to be separated than together, and while that is sad it is a whole different issue beyond the couple choosing to marry for the "wrong" reason.
Why Get Married?
For some people marriage can still be a financial or status transaction. Socially it has become less important to marry into certain professions or class levels but they still exist. Most people want to get married because they think they're in love. Artist Haddaway once asked "what is love?". Love is putting the other person first, it's the opposite of self-serving, it creates a feeling of completeness and being whole while being with someone else and thanks to the chemical soup going on in our bodies it can be very addictive. Love in the end is about making the other person happy but it can also boil down to nothing more than chemicals.
Scientists have proven that chemicals and hormones are activated doing different parts of the love process so that eventually we become as addicted to that person as an addict would be to drugs. Studies done on cocaine reveal that the same portions of the brain are affected when dealing with relationships and seeing the person as for an addict taking a fix of cocaine. The need to get married because you're scared you may lose the other person might be nothing more than a chemical drive to make sure your "supply" isn't cut off. It's a rather clinical thought, but for many people they stay together simply because they can't think of a reason to break up rather than because they really feel in love and want the best for the other person.
With so many marriages ending in divorce it's no wonder people are becoming a little more cautious about tying the knot. Getting help for a failing marriage is often second choice to simply ending things because couples have become so disconnected with each other that even their reasons for getting married no longer apply. Sites like BetterHelp are full of psychologists, therapists and counselors who specialize in fixing marital issues, and the number of people who need them is growing daily. Choosing to fix a marriage rather than throw it away is often a testament to how strong the relationship between the couple is and shows the likelihood that it really is based on love.
To Jump Or Not To Jump?
Should you get married? Only you can determine that. Whether marriage is right for you determines on your social, cultural, and personal opinions. Thanks to much social change the idea of marriage has become less constrained and more flexible, so you can choose what it means to you. If you're a traditionalist or marrying for religious reasons, then marriage may be the right choice but if you're not sure that your relationship is going to last then simply getting married because you're pregnant or because you've been together X years is going to be a lot of money and heartache when it goes wrong. Marriage traditionally has many implications but most of them are either not applicable anymore or they don't matter to the majority of people choosing to get married.
If you're already married and wondering why you made that move consider whether it isn't better to end things and move on. Marriage constructs have changed, and the need to be married isn't as pressing as before.