Defining Marriage

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Maria Hernandez
Professor Ali
English 1302
28 February 2010
Defining Marriage
I take thee to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance and thereto I give thee my troth. With this ring, I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow (The Book of Common Prayer, 423). This is one of the famous wedding vows that people around the world use to get married. But what does marriage mean? What does for better or for worse and till death do us part signify? According to several dictionaries, marriage is the formal union of a man and a woman, by which they become husband and wife. A private institution between two individuals with legal obligations. Two people living together in an emotionally and intimate relationship. But these are general definitions of the word not the significance of it. Furthermore, the meaning of marriage today is changing towards a more individualistic, private, and cohabitant way. However, marriage is bigger than any one individual, marriage is bigger than a private institution, and marriage is bigger than cohabitation.

To better explain that marriage is more than a selfish contract. One must review the way marriage is viewed today. According to Paul R. Amato, writer of the book Alone Together, “marriage today is understood mainly as a path toward self-fulfilment”. Self-fulfilment as Amato calls it, illustrates that marriage is no longer viewed as a team concept. If couples are not devoted toward each other, then it makes sense that they do not stay together through the difficult times of their marriage. This view that the marital promise lasts only as long as people are happy and feel that their needs are being met is what contributes to the high rate of divorce seen today (Amato 5). Conversely, when couples look at marriage as a team concept and they...
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