Established with Adam and Eve, still surviving, marriage is the oldest institution known. Often the climax of most romantic movies and stories, whether it may be ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Dil Wale Dulhaniya Ley Jaein Gey’, marriage has a universal appeal. It continues to be the most intimate social network, providing the strongest and most frequent opportunity for social and emotional support. Though, over the years, marriage appears to be tarnished with high divorce rates, discontentment and infidelity, it is still a principal source of happiness in the lives of respective partners. Although marriage is perceived as a deeply flawed institution serving more the needs of the society than those of the individuals, nevertheless, marriage is strongly supported because it has a significant positive influence on health and longevity outcomes of both partners. The definition of marriage has changed considerably over time. In ancient times marriage was a covenant based relationship; laws governed the choice of partners in Hebrew culture whereas in Greek and Northern Europe a bride was either purchased or captured. In the 15th and 16th century, Church and other religious authorities were heads of the institute of marriage. Today marriage is the product of centuries of change in custom and law. The concept of marriage varies with culture, however, government and religious laws dictate it. (How the definition of marriage has changed over time) Marriage, as agreed by everyone, is a fundamental social institution. A social institution is the “network of shared meanings, norms, definitions, expectations and understandings held by the members of a society” (Traditional Marriage is Essential for a Healthy Society). This institution is universal, existing in all cultures since pre history. Though the dynamics of marriage have changed over the centuries, the concept of the institution is still to encourage procreation, ensuring a stable family structure in which children will be reared, educated and socialized (Dulle, 2004) Religion is the core of this social institution. Marriage is viewed as a social obligation because many religions example Islam, Hinduism and Christianity support it. However, recently, the view has shifted to that of a civil point of view, while still retaining the original religious influences. Across all cultures, traditional marriage, defined as the union of a man and a woman, has always been essential to creating, promoting and protecting the family. Research has proven that marriage promotes a healthier society, for children and adults. Rick Santorum in his article ‘The Necessity of Marriage’ states that 44 percent of children raised by two married parents are less likely to be physically abused and 55 percent are less likely to be subjected to child abuse in the USA. This is because children raised in a traditional environment are more secure, leading them to be more prosperous, happy and healthy. These children perform better in schools and colleges. Moreover, they display more stable personalities, keeping away from crime as compared to children raised by a single parent. Furthermore, they do not abuse drugs and alcohol. Similarly, men and women gain from marriage in terms of finance and health. They are more likely to take part in social work and community service, making the society better as a whole (‘The Social Benefits of Marriage Talking Points’).
Although most people accept that marriage serves the society, many are of the view that it often fails to meet the needs of individuals. In the West, especially, there is a growing popularity that marriage is becoming obsolete. This view is emerging in the east as well, albeit slowly. Marriage appears to be an obligation where people have to give up their right of freedom; no longer is it only about ‘you’, compromises have to be made, certain wants have to be given up. Selfishness has been deemed as one of the major factors of marriage failure. The concept of...
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