So it’s Tuesday and it is Tuesday afternoon and I have been thinking on and off all morning about what to write in way of a post for today, I didn’t do a post yesterday as I was in and out of the house all day and just didn’t have the time.
Anyway since Tuesday is usually History Tuesday I am going to write a little about the history of marriage, why marriage well because Tim and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary on the 22nd that would be last Tuesday if you are wondering.
So marriage is also known as matrimony or wedlock, it has been around pretty much from the beginning of time some would say it predates recorded history may it does who really knows. There was a time when marriage was seen as a way to form an alliance between families, with the parties getting married having little or no say in the matter. In some cultures parents even married one child to the spirit of a deceased child in order to strengthen familial bonds what the hell is with that talk about weird of what.
Generally marriage is recognised as a union or legal contract between two people that establishes rights and obligations between them, their children and their in-laws. However, the definition of marriage varies according to different cultures but it is mainly seen as an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual are acknowledged.
In the Bible there are mentioned marriages between cousins and Abraham married his half-sister, cousin marriages are still common throughout the world, particularly in the middle east. In fact anthropologist Robin Fox has estimated that the majority of all marriages throughout history were between first and second cousins. I don’t know if this is true or not but interesting none the less.
Most of us associate marriage with monogamy but in fact polygamy was common throughout history, in the Bible many of the men had more then one wife. It was rare thou for a woman to have more then one husband.
Still, monogamous marriage was very different from the modern conception of mutual fidelity, it was common place for the man to have many extramarital affair right up till the late 19th century and it was excepted that children from those affairs would have no claim to the man’s inheritance. In fact a men’s promiscuity was often protected by the dual laws of legal monogamy. However, if a woman was caught having an affair she would be treated much differently and not is a good way.
By around the ninth century it was considered the norm for a man to only have one wife. Marriages in the west were originally contracts between the families of the two partners with the Catholic Church and the state staying our of it. In 1215 the Catholic Church decreed that partners had to publicly post notices of an impending marriage in a local parish to cut down on the frequency of invalid marriages. This was in place until the 1980s, still in the 1500s the church accepted a couples word that they had in fact married with no need for witnesses or corroborating evidence.
In the last several hundred years the state started to play a greater role in marriage and in fact as early as 1639 the state of Massachusetts began requiring marriage licences and my the 19th century marriage licences became the norm in America
Marrying for love only started to become common around 250 years ago and then it was slow until only about 100 years ago more or less, now days most of us can’t imagine not marrying for love. As for equality in marriage that is a new thing and by new I am talking only about 50 years ago in fact did you know that marital rape was legal in many states of the U S until the 1970s. However, some countries criminalised martial rape much earlier countries like some in the Soviet Union as early as 1922 and as late as 1960. In Australia my state of New South Wales made it a crime in 1981 and the other states from 1985.
The notion that both men and women had identical obligations within a marriage began being accepted as the norm around 50 years ago as well, it was around the time that many women started going out to work outside the home when they were married.