When Oklahoma proposed a bill to make all marriage illegal, I was beyond ecstatic. Granted, the reason for this bill was to ensure the LGBT community never got a chance to tie the knot without infringing on anyone’s rights. However, I was still ecstatic. Forget about same-sex marriage, I genuinely wanted it to happen. Why? Because in my mind, the concept of marriage is kind of a joke.
I know this topic is loaded, and what I say might offend you. Those of you who know me should know I am aromantic-asexual. Additionally, I am anti-romantic and anti-sexual (which is what is sounds like). However, I understand that other people have different views. You are perfectly welcome to disagree. I am also not singling out any marriage in particular (if yours is working out, that is awesome). But as I said, I believe that the institution of marriage – no matter what biological being you are conjoining your life with – has become a huge joke. It has no place in the modern world. It is outdated, a social guise, not for everyone, over idealized, all round completely pointless, and is slowly destroying our society. Yes, I said that.
So what is marriage anyway? Well, a “traditional marriage,” as ordained by the oddly similar norm of cultures from around the world from BC until the last hundred years or so (let’s just say Europe for example sake), is when the parents of a family go off and find a suitable partner for their son/daughter, who is probably less than 10 years old, and then hold the ceremony binding the two families when the kids (specifically the girl) hit the baby-making age. England was sensible and ordained the legal age of consent as 12 years old, until 1885 when the age of consent rose to 16. Of course, that did not mean everyone married young. Daughters of poorer families might have never married and were just sold into prostitution. Young betrothal was more common with rich people. But arranged marriages? Fairly universal.
Such betrothals were often designed to be advantageous in nature, to keep peace between families, for political gain, for financial gain, or for a boost in social status. The girl would also get someone to take care of her until the end of her short life. Brownie points if the betrothed actually loved each other. If they did not, well – who cared? Women were eye candy, social tokens, baby making machines, and property.1 And the men needed offspring.
Often the families would exchange a dowry or bride price, and all would be good. The happy couple lived together. The man had his life, the woman had hers. The woman was probably in some sort of servitude position to her husband. Other than that, their lives never crossed. And so life would continue until the wife died from child birth (or was divorced for being infertile2) and then the husband would go off and get a new wife. Unless of course he had a mistress, as it was socially acceptable for men to have mistresses until the 19th century, especially if he was wealthy.3 It made sense, because his marriage was a social farce to begin with, so why not have someone to love? Assuming a man was wealthy though, he could have multiple wives instead of mistresses (monogamy was only a trend near to the geographic poles of the world you went4). A child of a wife could carry on his or her father’s name. A child born out of wedlock was doomed to be a social outcast, slave, or the lesser human of the family.
In short, traditional marriage is a social play when a man and a woman, or a boy and a girl, tie the knot in hopes of the boy’s family getting socially acceptable offspring to carry on the family name and the girl getting financial support and someone to take care of her. The families also get a boost socially. According to the Wikipedia definition: “marriage is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.” So yeah – of course marriage was necessary throughout history! Everyone had to know about a couple if they did not want to be the shunned talk of the town.
Modern day marriage…? Tradition has long died. Religion, for one, has worked its way into marriage, specifically in Christian monogamy. The Catholic church was well aware marriage was man-made and did not put any claim on marriage as a sacrament until the 1200s.5 Yes, you can argue that Jesus established marriage as between a man and woman (in a polygamist society of all things) – but that is false. Jesus taught that it was better to be unmarried and celibate.6 Paul further endorses that notion later in the Bible as an ideal that Christians should strive for, saying that men should only marry if they had issues with lust.7 As for love? Love has become a huge core reason for why people “should” get married – when even love really never had anything to do with it. Love was not an established reason for marriage until the 1800s.8 And here is where the punch line begins.
Nowadays we go out and put marriage on a shiny pedestal like it is a landmark in life. That one day we will all find someone we will spend the rest of our life with, because the ultimate goal of life is to find someone we will spend the rest of our life with. All problems will be solved if we can find that person. Problems like peer pressure to get married, dancing around in relationships, feeling inferior because other people are dating or married when you are not, and having people wonder what is wrong with you when you show no interest in any of it in the first place.
Some people destroy themselves to fit in the marriage box – letting their self-esteem be ripped apart, sacrificing their hopes and dreams, settling down against their better nature to marry someone just for the sake of being married. They may marry for financial benefits (of which there are an absurd amount). They may marry because people condone their partner and everyone else seems to be getting married. They may marry to provide a father/mother to their children. But I know someone who ended up in an abusive relationship because of similar mentality. Does it not matter if you sacrifice your own health and happiness just so you can keep up a facade for others, much less your children, that everything is okay?
People want to have someone to love, because love is a beautiful thing. People want to have someone love them back, because love is a rare thing. And because love is beautiful and rare, marriage has begun to look like a beautiful thing as well! Dedicating the rest of your life to someone and having them give it back to you, yes, that is magical. But marriage is not beautiful, not rare, and not magical. Marriage is a relationship. Like any relationship, there are ups and downs, there is emotion. Two different people intersecting their worlds cannot expect the result to be perfect or without its bumpy patches. People are people, and people change over time. Like every bumpy road, it may split into two. It may have a dead end. It may even be the wrong road.
So why is it still the pinnacle of our expectations? With marriage up there on the shiny pedestal, the thing that everyone “has to have”, when did people throw out its value to settle for less? Is it because they jump on the first chance of a happy ending? Or is it because if they are married, things will work out? Because marriage is love and love will triumph over all? Or maybe it is because they hold such high standards for their marriage that the shock of it not meeting those standards corrodes whatever excitement there was in the first place, so they start looking all over again?
Marriage is said to be restrictive. Marriage is teasingly complained about as losing all freedom, not being able to go out and do what you want to do, keeping your other life a hush, hush from your dearly beloved because they would not approve. Does that not spit on what marriage is supposed to be in the first place? Why have secrets with someone who is supposed to be your conjoined life partner? Someone who is supposed to know you and accept the things you do? Someone who puts their trust and faith in you? Someone you should love and accept and trust in return? Someone you should not hold any secrets from – because this other person in your life is supposed to be the best of all best friends?
When the talking stops, the marriage stops – the lack of communication is one of the leading causes of divorce.9 The desire to fill the unsatisfied void marriage and love were supposed to compensate for leads to boredom and infidelity. An uneven contribution to a marriage also causes strain, with one person more committed to it than another, or neither partner committed enough and both blaming one another for not living up to expectations. The upheaval over gender equality and stereotypes within marriages certainly does not help. Men and women do not live separate lives like they used to, demanding the need for communication even more. Might I remind you gender equality is still fairly young and struggling to take root. Eye candy has been upgraded into a life partner.
Yet we question why marriages end in divorce, why 40-70% of people cheat.10 Didn’t they love one another? The answer to that is, what are you talking about? Marriage has never been about love. Marriage is a social guise, warped and twisted to be an ideal magical happy ending that makes everything better when in truth, nothing changes. People are still people. Marriage is just a way for people to go about doing what they do without others turning around and gossiping. Because even in the 21st century, we still shame people for being born, having children, or just outright going at it outside of wedlock, as ridiculously common as that is. Marriage is a way for people to put a wall up and say “I’m not available, don’t try” – because nothing but marriage makes people even respect those words, much less take them seriously. But if you want to talk about love, marriage is the only way you can live your life with someone you love and not be condemned to hell for it. Without it, love is questioned, the relationship is questioned, the loyalty is questioned, the commitment is questioned – like it might end one day. Because clearly, unless you have a ring on your finger, your relationship is not real.
And that’s the punch line.
 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130729172244.htm; and The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom
 Luke 20:35
 1 Corinthians 7:7-8
 http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/isdivorcethesolution/a/Three-Major-Causes-Of-Divorce.htm; http://magazine.foxnews.com/love/expert-survey-reveals-number-one-reason-couples-divorce