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Having gone through a recent divorce, the idea of marriage, or more the failure of mine, has been a constant on my mind. I have spent many days and sleepless nights overanalyzing my projections, relationship style, childhood drama, etc., etc.  After diagnosing myself with a few different personality disorders, I became determined that marriage was just not for me and vowed to never say “I do” again. Having felt better about my life decision (for now), I began thinking of marriage in a cultural sense.

Originally, marriage was originated to create an agreement between a procreating woman and an income earning man. Roles were defined and any deviance from them would deem socially unacceptable. In Christianity, a wife was to obey her husband. In Islam, she was to respect and submit to her man, and unconditionally accept his behavior, even share him with other women. The agreement was clear: A man brought home the bacon, the woman cooked it. End of story.

However, over the past few decades, we have seen tremendous shifts in almost all societies, even those we may consider oppressive. Women today, not only bring home the bacon, but cook it, feed it to their families and clean up the grease. There are also many men that stay home to care for the children while their wives are focusing on their careers. As much as we have seen an increase in the number of dead beat fathers, the number of responsible single dads are also on the rise. Stereotypes are changing, just as relationships and idea of families. Many couples choose to get married, but do not have children and are financially independent. So much for defined roles.

Just as we are restructuring our financial system and the corporate sector, perhaps it’s time we review one of our oldest institutions. It seems to me that the institution of marriage has been economically significant in our society. Not only the wedding industry has soared, but also divorce attorneys continue to be in high demand.

If marriage is no longer about financial security and survival through procreation, then how do we define its rules? If it’s about eternal love and unconditional support, then why do we prevent members of our communities from officiating their commitment based on sexual preference?

If we can write our wedding vows, then why not make up our own rules?

As famous writer Paulo Coelho stated: “Love is not a debt, or a commitment. Love simply is.”

What do you think?

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7 Responses to “The Institution of Marriage”

  1. Adam says:

    I was involved in a devastating Divorce, leaving me with emotional scars and a great weariness of marriage… and women in general… yet I did re-marry.
    No caveman "she my Woman" impulse, more as a symbol of love and, perhaps more importantly to me, commitment. We are both finacially secure in our own right, have great careers, but still wanted to show each other how supported and loved we felt.
    Sadly many men are not strong enough to accept an equal partnership, the urge to have a "little woman" at home, that some men cling to is incompatible with modern life and modes of living. Rules, as such, dont apply in something as individual as a marriage.
    Two of the best partnerships I know of are same sex, one of the couples are about to have a baby. the couple in question are not yet married, but will be soon… what "rules should they follow? I am sure as other same sex couples have, they will build a secure and commited relationship as suits them.
    Dont fear marriage, fear the old, institutionalised, and outmoded attitudes to each gender, respect and treat your partner equally and see how your marriage grows.

    • Rashin says:

      Thank you Adam for sharing your personal story. It's great to hear of a successful marriage based on love, respect and commitment. I agree that the old institutionalized attitudes are what often keep people from growth. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Dave says:

    Marriage to me has been a complimentary experience, there has been no "obeying", and I certainly have not asked nor been asked to share. I do not think I would want that in a relationship. Where I struggle, she soars- Where she limps, I run. Sometimes we race each other- and argue over who wins…. Without fail though, every point of our life has been a relay: We are both running the same race, going the same direction, with the same goal and understanding that not one of use could complete the race alone. What was broken in the financial and corporate sector was not the structure, it was the corruption that lack of integrity brings to the table. Marriage, and I believe society is the same. There is no need to rethink or reorganize it or change it- we must revisit the need for integrity, that is all. I will not pretend to be able to understand what you are going through, but I do sincerely hope that you find a person to run the race with you- you deserve it, and I promise you he is out there… do not give up.

    • Rashin says:

      Yes integrity is key in all areas of life and perhaps one that is often missing in relationships today. Thank you for sharing your experience, and I do hope to have a relationship that is as you've described; complementary, loving and supportive. The race is definitely not fun to run alone!

  3. Roni says:

    I hold the same opinion of Paulo Cuelo. (I loved what you quoted of him.) I tend to think that marriage only represents (or, rather, should represent) an outward display of what's already in place between two people–"marriage" is a symbol of love, not requisite to love. Marriages, wedding rings, are formal ways of communicating to others and ceremonious (is that a word?) to affirming one's already existing love, but they are not necessary to love. IMO. /// Frankly, I think tax incentive(s) for me (a heterosexual) are by-and-large the reason why I would choose marriage to my significant other. I can think of better ways to spend money than on typical marriages and wedding rings.

    • Rashin says:

      Hi Roni, marriage definitely is a symbol of love, although at times I feel two people forget and take it for granted. Since our culture has already moved away from so many rituals and traditions, perhaps this one is worth keeping. I just wonder if we as a society need to remember the true definition of a sacred union. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Roni says:

        Ah, yes. I think I completely get you.

        I enjoy reading your blog. I appreciate rituals and traditions and the support you provide toward them. :-)

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