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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


          Marriage is the union of two people which is recognized by the law, or the period of time for which two people are in a relationship or simply, a close or intimate union. The word marriage originated in 1135 from the Old French word, mariage, from marier which means to marry. It also originated from the Latin word maritus meaning lover or nuptial, and the word mas, meaning males or masculine. The English word marriage was derived from the verb marry, in which mari- mas means man or male and is defined in several languages like Lithuanian as a young boy or girl.

          The word was once used and sometimes still is described as the condition of being a husband or wife implying the union of people of different sex. In past years, marriage was only a privilege to people of opposite sex and only recently has marriage become a right for people of the same sex in a small percentage of areas in the world. The definition of marriage has also been changed to include the union of two or more people to accommodate for the idea of marriage in cultures in which men and women have multiple wives and husbands. The definition of marriage changes as society progresses and becomes more tolerant of activities outside the social norm.  In modern definitions, marriage is defined as simply the relation between people married to each other.

          Marriage itself is hard to define; there is no specified time period in which the marriage should exist and no legal requirements or obligations for the spouses. It is merely a signature on a legal document that allows the law to recognize the union of people that most often, has already occurred. In ancient times and still in some cultures, marriage was a form of political, social or business arrangement when a woman was given away to a man as property. However, as women began to gain equal rights as men, marriage became more for the purpose of celebrating mutual love. Throughout human history, marriage has been defined as a permanent contract that could not be escaped until the death of one of the spouses. Marriage was seen as a binding contract which joined the lives of two people often implying the sharing or possessions, income and lives. The main purpose of marriage was for producing offspring to carry on family names and legacies. Marriage occurred earlier in peoples’ lives in order to produce more children as many were needed to help work and children were more susceptible to diseases causing a higher mortality rate. Marriage, for some people today, provides them a sense of stability in their lives either mentally or financially.

          Marriage is now viewed as a burden, a limiting factor, and a point where life ceases to be exciting. It is an unwanted commitment that is forced and rushed into. What should be viewed as a positive union has become a negative and complicated arrangement symbolizing adulthood, settling down, and restraint. Marriage, which commonly used to last a lifetime, is now taken as a temporary union. A higher percentage of married people get divorced or remarried once or many times within their lifetimes. In past years, marriage came with responsibilities, owning property and having children. In modern days, marriage does not carry the strict rules that used it to.  An increasing number of people are choosing to be in a common-law than a marriage to be able to live individual and joint lives without strong commitment.

[1] Oxford English Dictionary, "Marriage, n." Last modified 2008. Accessed November 19, 2012. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/114320?redirectedFrom=marriage#eid

[2] Oxford English Dictionary, "Marriage, n." Last modified 2008. Accessed November 19, 2012. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/115320?redirectedFrom=marriageeid

[3] University of Manitoba, "Defining Marriage" Last modified 2010. Accessed November 19, 2012. http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/anthropology/tutor/marriage/defining.html

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