Chuck and I haven’t been getting much sleep this week. He doesn't get home from his second job until 9:30 PM so by the time we flop down on our sinking double bed, all we want to do is snuggle and chat each other’s faces off. Last night was no exception. We started off with a fun fact about why men have nipples and somehow ended up at gun control. And somewhere in the middle, we talked about marriage. And more specifically, why we marry.
You see, a couple hundred years ago, marriage was the furthest thing from romantic. A marriage was usually pre-arranged by the families of the respective parties and was done as a means of economic security. Usually, a groom’s family wanted someone to produce offspring and to guarantee labor for the farm. The bride’s family wanted to guarantee that they wouldn't have to feed another mouth in the form of an old, spinster daughter. There were no white dresses, no honeymoon. It was what it was.
As time has progressed, technology improved and our culture evolved, the reasons for marriage slowly altered. No longer were we tied down to one place, our new-found freedom and mobility allowed us the opportunity for the first time to choose who we wanted to marry.
The institution of marriage stopped being a contract pertaining to socioeconomic status and became a profession of love.
If you are one half of a marriage, ask yourself- why did you marry your spouse? Was it motivated by a desire for economic security? Not likely. What about a desire to bear children? That’s simply a nice perk. I’m guessing that about 99% of the time, marriages are entered into because we’re in love and want nothing more than to be eternally bound to the apple of our eye.
So if this is the case, why are we clinging onto these archaic notions about what a marriage is all about and using them for justification to deny people the right to marry? We think it’s sweet when a man and a woman exchanges vows, shouting their love for each other from the rooftops. We don’t question for a second their motives in regards to acquiring wealth. Nor do we expect them to reproduce if they don’t feel so inclined. And yet, when Adam and Steve want to marry for those very same reasons of love, trust and commitment, suddenly it’s not okay.
I’m not trying to turn this blog into a pit of controversy, or polarize those with opposing viewpoints. I’m simply wondering if our reasons for celebrating one union and denying another hold up.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of marriage, I’d encourage you to read Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love).