A psychotic but intelligent girlfriend I
was regrettably with once asked me who invented the
institution of marriage:
men or women?
She thought that men did.
Marriage was a way for men to entrap a woman legally
so that she would have to cook and clean for him and do his
agree with her on one tiny point.
I think that since early societies were run by men,
it was men who passed the law establishing marriage as fact.
I mostly disagree with her, because I think it was
women who planted the seed of the idea in the men who then
made marriage a legal state of being.
Women, more than men, have benefited from
marriage, so it's more sensible women would've pushed for
organism's biological mission is to propagate its DNA into
A man's best chances for promoting his DNA into the
aeons is to impregnate as many women as possible.
Celebrities like Clint Eastwood prove this point
potent man could populate a small village in a year if he
had control over a large enough segment of fertile women and
continued doing this for his entire lifetime.
He truly maximizes the chances of an ideal DNA combo,
as he mixes his DNA in countless combinations with a variety
Women, on the other hand, can only mix their DNA with one
male at a time and have only until menopause to do it.
Women make a larger biological investment
in the DNA mixture.
With their limited supply of eggs, they must wait 9
interminable months to bear the child before a new DNA mix
can be undertaken.
While she is nursing the newborn, she needs someone
to gather food for her and her offspring.
Think in caveman terms here, people.
If the man is free to serially impregnate again and
again, he doesn't have to stick around and support the
female and the child.
Women required some sort of legal framework to force
the man to stick around and honor his responsibilities,
particularly after they were no longer able to bear
the institution of marriage and the still accepted notion of
propagating only within that institution.
Though in North America, Oceania, and Western Europe,
it's now permissible for unmarried couples or single women
to have children, most of the rest of the planet considers
it a stigma for a woman to get pregnant outside of marriage.
I'll admit that what I just wrote is a
theory. When I
went on the internet to investigate who invented the concept
of marriage, I couldn't come up with anything concrete.
Sure, there were plenty of born again Christian web
sites proclaiming that G-d invented marriage.
"G-d gave Marriage to the human race as a
demonstration of His divine love," one site says.
Sorry, I don't buy it.
If there is some Heavenly Father, He didn't whip out
a heavenly pen and draft a marriage code.
I'd sooner believe an answer I read on Yahoo, which
said that photographers, videographers, florists, DJ's, and
other wedding venues invented it to create business for
I don't believe marriage was an invention
along the lines of fiber optics and air conditioning.
No one had to spend years in a room performing
experiments to come up with it.
More likely, the idea in one form or another was
discovered and accepted because it's the way people
naturally come together.
Throughout mankind's existence, virtually all women
have been attracted to men and virtually all men to women.
In very primitive societies, it would've been
possible for one man to be associated with multiple women
and impregnate them.
It's still possible in West Africa, Sudan, and South
Asia; and in China and Hong Hong, although polygamy itself
is illegal, the practice of having concubines on the side
and reproducing with them is permitted.
As societies became more complex and likewise, more
expensive, the average man simply did not have the time or
the cash to support multiple women and families.
One woman to one man became the norm.
Today, governments have stepped in to
define marriage laws for the purposes of taxation and
inheritance and have
supplemented those with child support legislation.
Even if governments hadn't gotten involved, a state
of marriage with one partner is how the majority of people
would wind up living.
So why should anyone, including myself, be against
the idea of marriage if most of us, including myself, find
themselves living in just such a state?
I had a talk recently with a Dutchman,
Baltje, on a riverboat cruise in Cambodia.
He told me he was married, and so I asked him how
long he'd known his wife before they got hitched, did they
live together before marriage, and what motivated them to
finally marry vs staying a cohabiting couple.
He said that his wife was more into the idea of
marriage than he was, but he went along for the ride.
It turns out he was actually separated from his wife.
He had lived with her for 7 years before getting
Three years after the marriage, things went south.
You'd suppose that a couple who'd been
together for as long as they had before marriage
would be poised for marriage success, and yet the research
seems to suggest that living together before marriage is a
detriment, not a benefit.
Baltje said that his wife's attitude changed after he
married her. She
held him on a tighter leash and he didn't like it.
I have no way to prove this, but I believe that it's
this attitude shift, not the cohabitation before marriage,
which jeopardizes the unions.
If I go into a business partnership with
another person, the two of us do so because we believe the
partnership will be financially profitable for us both.
We proceed to fill out the legal paperwork and
establish our business.
If the business doesn't work out, we can sever the
partnership at any time.
Marriage is also a legal partnership, where,
ideally, the goals for both are increased fulfillment
Unlike a business partnership, when two people get married,
they do so with the idea that it's till death do they part.
Shouldn't marriage, from the onset, be considered a
partnership for happiness and fulfillment profits?
As long as the union continues to bring in the
profits, it continues.
If it doesn't, it ends, with no negative judgment
passed or sense of failure felt.
If several marriage partnerships wound up being
established over the course of a person's life -- say, early
adulthood, middle age, and old age -- shouldn't this be
thought of as normal?
Unfortunately, that's not the case.
No one, except possibly Hollywood celebrities, gets
married with the expectation that they'll be back at the
altar with a new partner at a later date.
It's still supposed to be something you do only once,
possibly twice if you got married too young the first time.
I continue to be surprised at how many
marriages do work out.
Men today are, on average, 26.8 years old, and women
25.1, when they get married.
I think back to when I was about 27 years old.
Would I have been able to pick a partner at that age
who would have continued to grow in the same direction as I
for a lifetime?
If a marriage is going to last for a
lifetime (or at least the next two decades), people have to
get married for the right reasons.
We all know people get married for less ideal ones,
such as loneliness, the desire to have children in an
accepted societal format, familial pressure, etc.
Too often, one party
feels they need to reign in the other; a legal piece of
paper in hand acts as the leash.
The language and images we're constantly exposed to
perpetuate the myth that we can control or own someone else.
Take these lyrics from the famous Elvis Presley song
Don't Be Cruel:
walk on to the preacher and let us say 'I do.'
Then you'll know you have me and I'll know that I
have you" or the oft quoted cliché in numerous songs
of "I'm going to make
I'm reminded of the old adage that
"if you love something,
set it free.
comes back to you, it's yours, and if it
doesn't, it never was."
It's quite ironic, but the marriages most likely to
succeed are made up of married couples who felt they never
needed to get married in the first place.
They live together as two free people who came back
to each other.
For such people, I don't believe that living together before
marriage sabotages the chances of the marriage working out
because the formalized marriage, in the end, is unnecessary.
My own girlfriend was fixated on us
getting married or at least engaged after two years of being
Actually, it's a very reasonable request.
She wants some confirmation that the relationship is
What I wasn't comfortable with was equating marriage
with the idea of 'going somewhere.'
I have been witness to plenty of bad marriages going
originally suggested what amounted to an ultimatum, which
put me in a very tight spot.
Although I love her and could see myself eventually
married to her, I felt the marriage had to come about
naturally, not as a result of me being pressured to step up
to the altar. Something
in my gut just told me that if we wound up married in these
circumstances, the state of marriage would alter our
relationship, like it had Baltje's, and we'd be amongst
those couples whose chances of marriage survival declined
because of prior cohabitation.
I have to respect the fact that for many,
including my girlfriend, marriage is a cultural thing not
If a couple have been together for X number of years,
particularly if they're living together, then for these
people the end game had better be marriage or else.
For them, there is no other way to look at it.
Marriage is commitment.
A lack of a marriage is no commitment.
My girlfriend's first marriage was doomed from the
start and a marriage certificate did nothing to alter that.
If you're married for the wrong reasons, then you
could have four back-to-back wedding ceremonies performed by
the most famous rabbis or priests.
It won't make the union any more solid.
The number of cohabiting couples has
increased 800% since the 1960's.
The facts are out there: it is far more acceptable
today to live together before and instead of marriage, in
Western countries at least.
If people can view their work, male-female gender
roles, family, and
the world a lot differently than they did 50 years ago, then
I wonder why can't they see marriage differently, too?
It's time that the institution of
marriage be updated to fit in with the twenty-first century.