The Instition of Marriage and 10 facts you may not have known
Here at Confetti Petals talking to so many couples about to embark on their wedding day nuptials, we decided to look into the history of marriage through the ages. I found some interesting facts on how marriage has changed over the centuries to where we are today.
Marriage is a truly ancient institution that predates recorded history. But early marriage was seen as a strategic alliance between families, with the youngsters often having no say in the matter.
Keeping alliances within the family was also quite common. In the Bible, the forefathers Isaac and Jacob married cousins and Abraham married his half-sister. Cousin marriages remain common throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East.
Monogamy may seem central to marriage now, but in fact, polygamy was common throughout history. From Jacob, to Kings David and Solomon, Biblical men often had anywhere from two to thousands of wives.
In many early cultures, men could dissolve a marriage or take another wife if a woman was infertile. However, the early Christian church was a trailblazer in arguing that marriage was not contingent on producing offspring.
“The early Christian church held the position that if you can procreate you must not refuse to procreate. But they always took the position that they would annul a marriage if a man could not have sex with his wife, but not if they could not conceive!
Monogamy became the guiding principle for Western marriages sometime between the sixth and the ninth centuries.
Still, monogamous marriage was very different from the modern conception of mutual fidelity. Though marriage was legally or sacramentally recognized between just one man and one woman, until the 19th century, men had wide latitude to engage in extramarital affairs. Any children resulting from those trysts, however, would be illegitimate, with no claim to the man’s inheritance.
Marriages in the West were originally contracts between the families of two partners, with the Catholic Church and the state staying out of it. In 1215, the Catholic Church decreed that partners had to publicly post banns, or notices of an impending marriage in a local parish, to cut down on the frequency of invalid marriages
By about 250 years ago, the notion of love matches gained traction, meaning marriage was based on love and possibly sexual desire. But mutual attraction in marriage wasn’t important until about a century ago.
Still, marriage wasn’t about equality until about 50 years ago. At that time, women and men had unique rights and responsibilities within marriage.
By about 50 years ago, the notion that men and women had identical obligations within marriage began to take root. Instead of being about unique, gender-based roles, most partners conceived of their unions in terms of flexible divisions of labor, companionship, and mutual sexual attraction.
“We now believe it is based on love, mutual sexual attraction, equality and a flexible division of labor.”