What is marriage?
Marriage is the most important ritual associated with human society, certainly the most emotionally stirring. It’s a ceremony full of hope, love, the sacred union of two people — and usually two families.
Traditionally, marriage is the sacred union of a man and a woman. Socially, this is because that union is expected to produce children, who will carry on the bloodline of the two families joining together.
If love is said to be the binding force between two persons, then marriage can be termed as the culmination of that love. According to the Puritans, marriage is a blessed relationship, which not only places the partners in a position to love each other, but also to forgive. It marks the beginning of a new life for the married couples.
The traditional monogamous relationship is an essential building block of human society. Signatures — on the marriage license and in the wedding book — show the essential social contract of marriage. Wedding photos and marriage records indicate the hope that this monogamous relationship will last forever, a solid base on which generations will grow. “What God has joined, let no man put asunder.”
Marriage starts with the love of two people and has the promise of creating a lifetime of love for many.
As a result, there are several laws of society that are associated with the custom of marriage. These include several property rights and others and are meant for both men as well as women.
It’s not easy to find the trails of a history of marriage and say how marriage has come into existence. Promiscuity was also probably existent during pre-historic times or the early years of human civilization. However, it can be assumed that the custom of marriage has probably developed out of the need of protecting the bloodlines and to save the family, as well as the race from extinction. This can be inferred from an ancient Hebrew marriage law, which states that a man has to marry the widow of his late brother to save the family bloodline from becoming extinct.
It’s true that no specific date can be established as to when the first marriage was carried out. As a result a history of marriage remains shrouded in the mist of time. However, in his book “The Power of Myth”, Joseph Campbell gives the credit of initialising the concept of courtly love to the troubadours of the Twelfth Century. According to him, it was only during the medieval period of European history that the concept of love generated.
The ritual of social marriages can be traced back to the time of the Roman Empire. There are also evidences of marriages that took place during the ancient Greek civilizations. The Old Testament of Bible also contains a few mentions of marriages. However, it was considered a completely personal affair during that time. As a result, it is hard to find much historical evidences of marriage of the early days.
History of Consent in Marriage
It’s said that there are mainly two things on which a successful marriage depends. The first of them is to find the right person and also being the right person. This shows that a prospect of marriage is very much dependent upon the consent of both man and wife. It is found that this concept was given utmost importance during the medieval times.
A statement made by Pope Nicholas I in 866 AD can be put forward as a proof of this, where he commented that if there is no mutual consent, then a marriage is rendered void. While researching on the marriage rituals of western civilization, it can be found that in most of the cases the marriages of ancient societies were arranged.
History of Marriage and Religion
Famous English writer John Lyly had once commented: “Marriages are made in Heaven…” However, the Protestant reformers of the 16th century decided not to go by this concept. They completely rejected the prevalent idea of associating the church and God with marriage. People like Martin Luther and Calvin, commented that marriage was a completely worldly thing and that there was no concept of God or church in it. The 17th Century English Puritans followed their footsteps and asserted that marriage was no sacrament. As a result, there was no need of a minister anymore in holding a marriage. However, the Puritans revived the older concept and it survived in America.
Protestant leaders like Luther and others helped to minimize the obstructions in marriage and gradually even marriage between first cousins became a reality. There were several secret marriages. Besides, there were informal marriages, which needed nothing other than the consent of the man and the lady.
However, the Catholic Church took up these diversions to the common Christian beliefs by the Protestants as a challenge. They confirmed through the Council of Trent of 1563 that the earlier laws and concepts of marriage were put back in practice. The religious ceremony was made mandatory in marriages throughout Europe. This remained the same till 1792, and gradually civil marriage was made compulsory in most of the civilized societies across the world.
History of Same-Sex Marriage
It’s claimed that the love between people of the same sex had been common since the earliest of times. Same-sex advocates say that this kind of marriages had occurred in earlier times in countries like China, Japan, Rome, Egypt and Greece. Some of the famous lovers of the same sex from history include Aristogiton and Harmodius, Khnumhpotep and Niankhkhnum. Today, we see the spread of legalized gay marriage and lesbian marriage in several Western nations.
History of Marriage in Different Countries
There had been various marriage customs and laws in different countries across the world. During the same time in history, countries like Greece or Egypt followed completely different marriage rules.
Marriage in Ancient Greece
Marriages were among the most important events in a person’s life in ancient Greece. They symbolized mutual respect, sacrifice, equality and above all, love. The difference in age between the bride and the groom was about fifteen years with the bride at fifteen and the groom at thirty. The ceremonies were divided into the pre-wedding ceremonies, the wedding and the post-wedding ceremonies and took three days to complete. The preferred time for the Greek marriages was winter.
Marriage in Ancient Egypt
History of Egyptian marriage is diverse. Monogamous relationships were in use, which was mostly life long. Later, marriage contracts evolved, which involved payment and receipt of price for marrying a woman. However, there have been little changes to the marriage rituals in Egypt since the ancient period.
Love has always been an integral part of human life and society from the earliest days of civilisation. Marriage helps to give this love a social acceptance, providing a way for the lovers to start life anew.
“A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day.” – Andre Maurois
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin
“Marriage is not a platonic relationship — it is founded in passion!” – Kate Falken
==>> To read more about Love Wedding Marriage, go to Save a Marriage: How to Save Your Marriage On Your Own
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