Note: I have a feeling this is going to be a particularly long post, so if you just want to skim it, I will split it into parts.. (1) Marriage: Then vs Now … (2) Forever and ’til death do us part.. what does it mean? Feel free to scroll to your desired location.
Note #2: This post may offend traditional people. Also, I think I’ll put a PG13 on it. You’ve been warned.
Part 1: Marriage: Then VS Now:
Anyone who has ever spent more than thirty minutes talking to me will know that I absolutely detest the thought of marriage. To me, marriage is the ultimate sign of giving up. I apologise if I offendth thee, but personally, marriage is inconsistent with my aspirations. I believe that marriage is a somewhat outdated institution, and that the world, as well as Western culture, has developed in such a way that marriage is no longer necessary. Our society seems to have evolved and expanded, yet marriage is almost the same as it was a few hundred years ago.
The origins of marriage as we know it appear to lie with those of religion. Bonding yourself to someone for life in the eyes of God (or a god, depending on your personal beliefs). A few hundred years ago, marriage was practically compulsory. If you were not married by the time you were twenty five, you were seen as some sort of freak. I attribute this to the fact that 99.99% of the population was devoutly religious (or at least pretending to be so for the fear of being hanged), coupled with the fact that sex before marriage was absolutely, positively, the biggest ‘no-no- possible.
In addition, way back when the world was a far smaller place than it is today. Most people stayed in the very town they were born in and lived out their relatively short lives surrounded by the same people. Journeys between continents took months and were often deadly, and long distance communication took just as long.
From the small selection and the tiny gene pool your town offered, you chose a life partner (in many places, a man chose a life partner and the woman was to fearful to object). In those days, love did not matter. Whether it was because it was what was expected, because their God dictated it or simply because they wanted to get laid (sorry, sensitive audiences), people got married. They stayed married for the rest of their lives.
The origins of our marital system has another, scary, aspect. The total lack of women’s rights. Back in the day (all the way up to the early 20th century in some places, and all the way up until now in others), a woman was her husband’s property. She was subject to her husbands will and could own no property. In fact, a man was allowed to have sex with a woman without consent (i.e. rape) her, provided that they were married.
That is what I believe to be the ugly background of marriage. Now let’s fast forward to the year 2014. The number of one hundred percent devout religious people has shrunken down significantly. Our population is growing at such a rapid rate that the planet is struggling to provide all the resources we are mercilessly demanding. There is definitely no need to ‘go forth and multiply’. In fact, there is more of a need to ‘go forth and put on a damn condom’.
We all live in a global village. Communication to someone on the other end of the world is practically instantaneous. There are so many new people to meet, so many ideas to discover, so many dreams to pursue. Many of us live for up to a hundred years. With all this time and all this possibility, how could we possibly spend it all with one person? In addition, there are so many more people to consider, how could you choose one? As for the other traditional reasons to get married, religion has taken a backseat in our lives and pre marital sex is no longer frowned upon.
Anyway, I’m getting into a whole different rant. What I’m trying to say is, many of the old reasons for getting married seem to have fallen away in our day and age.
Part 2: Forever and ’til death do us part.. what does it mean?
Sometimes, marriage is described as an eternal bond between two people. Yet, we all know that traditional wedding vows read ‘as long as we both shall live’ and ” ’til death do us part’. Now, for me, as someone who doesn’t believe in a life after death, the ‘eternal bond’ and the ‘as long as we both shall live’ are interchangeable. But for a Christian, who’s entire belief system is based around the promise of eternal life after death? Do I smell a contradiction…?
The harsh reality of being a so called ‘enlightened’ race is that we are also rather fickle and fussy. We have developed and nurtured the idea of love. We no longer live for the sake of survival. We do not simply reproduce to continue the race, we scour the earth for someone we love.
Anyhow, I am once again getting distracted. Let us assume that the pure, virgin girl in her pretty white dress (shrieks of hysterical laughter from the audience) and her happy, smiling husband who only has eyes for her (sniggers), are vowing to love and stay with each other for eternity.
As I mentioned earlier (sorry, skimmers, you lose out here), we live in a world (or a global village) of endless possibility. Billions upon billions of people. Perhaps when you only had to choose between the blacksmith and the barber, the idea of ‘the one’ was plausible. But not anymore. The person who you love now will be different in twenty years, and so will you. Being traveled and educated and connected us affects us and changes us all in tremendous ways, making the idea of an eternal, or even lifelong partner, implausible.
While humans have over-romantisized the idea of love, we have also underestimated it. People take the emotions of other people for granted. My generation is the selfish generation and if we can not be there for out love and if we can not take their feelings into account, we can not love them forever.
There is probably a lot of bias in this, but I truly believe that the concept of love as we define it is made up. There is no such thing as love at first sight. There is no happily ever after. You can grow to love someone and grow to be their partner. You may even be their life partner. There is no way you can love someone forever. The human mind is incapable of comprehending that amount of time. We’re simply not smart enough.
And so, in conclusion…
Perhaps 200 years ago, people could be together forever. But the modern world has changed humanity. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, for as long as we ALL shall live. The human race is too loving and at the same time we are unable to truly love. We are all flawed and we need to learn to handle eachother more gently.
PS: While I personally don’t believe in marriage, gay marriage should really be legal. I mean, come on people. We are evolving and our customs should too.
PPS: My battery is dying and I wrote this in a ranting mood. Will update and edit soon. Hope ya like it!
UPDATE: Okay, so I fiddled and did some proof reading, but I’m still really unhappy with this piece. I apologise for producing a substandard piece of writing.