In order to understand the union between a man and a woman as recognized by law or custom, it is vital that you look into the history of marriage. It isn’t right to say that marriage is a connection between two consenting adults for propagation purposes, since there are couples who don’t have any children. Marriage can be considered as a social institution. There exists a relationship between a man and a woman wherein the union is recognized by law or custom. The marriage entails certain rights for both parties, as well as duties that must be performed. Even the children of the couple also have rights that need to be recognized.
The history of marriage dates back as far as the ancient times. Studies revealed that marriage didn’t exist before. The usual practice was that the men in a certain tribe or horde had access to the women they like. When children are born, they belonged to the whole community. This is associated with the perception that humans want sexual variety. However, things have changed when sexual morality was developed and has since influenced the social life of the people.
The earliest marriage was believed to be ‘group marriage’. The union was basically between groups of men and women, and there exists shared sexual relations. The group marriage allowed polyandry, and this existed in Ceylon, India, and Tibet many years ago.
The origin of marriage is a great debate subject. Many people are wondering how marriage began. There have been studies that claim the existence of marriage 4,350 years ago. Before this time, families were made up of less organized groups consisting of more or less than thirty people. The group consisted of men that shared women. With the introduction of agricultural civilization, the society demanded for stable arrangements.
It is said that the first union between a man and a woman took place in Mesopotamia at 2350 BC. Marriage evolved since then and such practice was observed by the Romans, Greeks, and Hebrews. However, the union was never about love or religion. The primary purpose of the marriage is to ensure that the man’s children are biologically his, and so women were treated as mere ‘property’.
Wives were expected to stay at home and attend to the children, as well as house chores. A husband can give back his wife if she is unable to produce children. The ancient people also turned to prostitutes, concubines, or male lovers to satisfy their needs for sexual variety.
With the increasing power of the Catholic Church, religion was able to influence marriage. For a marriage to be considered as legal, a priest’s blessing was required. Around the 8th century, marriage was treated as a sacrament by the church, and that the ceremony is required for the couple to receive God’s grace. By the year 1563, a canon law was written to show marriage’s sacramental nature.
Many wives favored the blessings of the church. By that time, men already respected their wives and divorce was forbidden. The church still recognized the husband as the head of the family, and that wives must submit to the wishes of the husband. The church emphasized the importance of being sexually faithful. A lot of men were pressured of this great change since by nature, men wanted sexual variety. With the increasing awareness of social morality, men were able to adjust gradually.
Today, marriage is not just about practical reasons. The couple usually has a deep feeling for mutual devotion and love. Romantic love is said to have existed since the Middle Ages. Some say that romantic love was conceptualized by the French. Indeed, love was able to change the way people view marriage. The latter was no longer treated as a pragmatic transaction. However, the belief that wives were owned by their husbands remained for centuries.
The dramatic transformation of marriage happened when women acquired their right to vote in 1920. The changes happened in the last forty years, and now, men and women have equal rights. Throughout history, people talked about marriage between the opposite sex but in the recent years, there were already issues on same-sex marriage.
In the western civilization, the union was entered into by parties because of survival, power, and money. In Europe, the society plays a great role in deciding marriages. Marriage was not always about love. In fact, during the Victorian era, friendship and adultery were more passionate. Today, most couples marry because of love but studies have showed that the unions ended up in divorce or legal separation.
The history of marriage is very interesting. You will be able to see where the tradition began, and the changes that happened through the years. Some say that today’s marriages are on the rocks, but in the end, everything will depend on the couple and their deep love for each other.