Marriage Is So Last Century

Traditional Marriage: An Outmoded Institution
Kirsten Uhler, Cogitations, May 5, 2009

Kirsten wrote a brilliant paper on marriage for the sociology course in which she is currently enrolled.

None of the “benefits” of marriage require marriage. Children can be conceived and reared and sexual satisfaction can be had without any legal contract or public vows of commitment. I’m glad the proclivity toward marriage is waning.

In the newly Christianized countries of Northern Europe marriage was essentially a business deal between the bridegroom and the bride’s father. The symbol of a successful “bride sale” was the ring (a form of down payment) which was given to the bride herself. Acceptance of the ring constituted betrothal. The full payment of the “bride price” was made on delivery, when the actual wedding took place. Since then, the ring has acquired many other symbolic meanings and is still used in our modern marriage ceremonies (Haeberle, 1983). It still signifies to me that a woman has been “bought,” the price of the ring indicating her value.

I’ve long argued that wedding rings are a superficial waste of money. I haven’t wore mine for years.

The common laws turned the married pair legally into one person—the husband. The husband was enlarged, so to speak, by marriage, while the wife’s giving up her own name and being called by his symbolized her relinquishing her identity. This legal doctrine of marital unity was called coverture (Cott, 2002). This meant that a wife could not use legal avenues such as suits or contracts, own assets, or execute legal documents without her husband’s collaboration. The husband became the political as well as the legal representative of his wife, disenfranchising her.

Coverture is fucked up!

I am in a wonderful relationship with Brent. We are only married to receive the legal benefits we would not otherwise have. We are still together because we make each other happy. We have history together. We have insight into each other. We agree on important philosophies and values. We enrich each other and affirm the best in each other. We challenge each other and make each other want to be a better person. We communicate; we’re open and honest with each other. We appreciate each other’s uniqueness and value. We have regular and exciting sex. We show affection. We don’t keep score or compete with each other. We share responsibilities. We have children together and agree on parenting styles. And we are best friends. All these things keep us together and happy. Our marriage does not.

I love you, too, Kirsten.

Promising to love someone tomorrow is puerile. The subjugation of women is immoral. An expectation of sexual fidelity is insecure, unreasonable and selfish. Traditional marriage should, like religious myth, be relegated to history.

4 Comment

  1. I agree that her paper was brilliant, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the paper as well!

    How come no one attacked your blog with pro marriage propoganda! : )

    1. No pro-marriage propaganda bullshit because I’ve already offended those types of visitors away. Besides, there’s no reasonable argument for marriage that couldn’t be easily ripped to shreds. ;)

  2. Like Gay Marriage? Heh..?

    I’m sorry, that may come across as a troll, but I would be interested in hearing your take on what is happening in my state of California.

    I have been married, and divorced. It wasn’t a messy divorce, but it was ugly. We have two children, and I watch from a distance as he repeats his same routine. Maybe he has learned some things, but he is still overworking and is expecting a 5th child counting her two kids plus ours. I know I have learned alot, and am in no hurry to be married if ever married again. The person I am with now shares so much in common with me, it’s nearly frightening! Reading your last quoted paragraph made me tear up, because that is how we love and respect eachother. My previous relationship did not work because it was all about him, and all about what he wanted for or of me; our relationship is about eachother, equally.

  3. @Julie – Hi Julie. Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you are in a relationship which appreciably adds value to your life and helps you to be happy. Isn’t that what it’s really all about?

    I think the court in California got it right. The voters are culpable. It’s a travesty that in 2009 people continue to believe in the myths of nomadic Bronze Age sheep herders. People have no good reason to oppose same-sex marriage other than that it is, they say, prohibited by the Bible.

    Having said that, I wish the government would get out of the marriage business. That would make many problems, including this one, disappear immediately.

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