Marriage was originally a way for families to make alliances with each other. In addition, marriages were used to expand the family labor force. Alliances even within families were common. In the Old Testament, Isaac and Jacob married cousins. In many parts of the world, marriage between cousins still is common. This is particularly true in many of the countries of the Middle East.
Today, monogamy is considered the norm for all marriages. However this was not always the case. Polygamy was common throughout ancient history. For many early cultures, if a woman turned out to be infertile a man could take another wife for the purpose of having children. The early Christian church took the position a marriage could be annulled if a woman could not conceive. Monogamy became the standard for marriages in western culture in the ninth century. The Catholic Church is largely responsibly for the elimination of polygamy in western culture.
In early cultures, promiscuity by men was widely accepted. However, promiscuity by women was considered a serious social taboo.
Religious Or Civil Marriages
In recent history, governments have gotten more involved in regulating marriages through the issuance of marriage licenses. This is now standard in most States in the United States.
Obligations Of Men And Women In Marriages
Only during the past fifty years has the concept of equality between men and woman in marriages gained a level of acceptance. In the past, men’s and women’s roles in marriage were gender based. Women raised the children and the men supported the family.
DOMA And Marriage
The Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman was recently struck down by the United States Supreme Court. Now marriage can be defined as a relationship between two people. The world has come a long way!
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