Marriage

The Nature of Marriage

Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship.

Learning Objectives

Analyze different types of marriage and the similarities and differences between polygamy and polyandry

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • The reasons people marry vary widely and include, to publicly and formally declare their love, to form a single household unit, social and economic stability, and for the education and nurturing of children.
  • Same- sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or gender identity.
  • A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage.
  • Group marriage is a form of polyamory in which more than two persons form a family unit. All the members of the group marriage are considered to be married to all the other members of the group marriage.
  • Cohabitation is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together in an intimate relationship, particularly an emotionally and sexually intimate one, on a long-term or permanent basis.

Key Terms

  • group marriage: a form of polygamous marriage in which more than one man and more than one woman form a family unit
  • cohabitation: An emotionally and physically intimate relationship that includes a common living place and which exists without legal or religious sanction.
  • civil union: a legal union similar to marriage, established to allow similar rights to same-sex couples, and in some jurisdictions opposite-sex couples, as partners in traditional marriages have.

Marriage is a social union or legal contract between spouses that creates kinship. The most frequently occurring form of marriage is between a woman and a man, where the feminine term ‘wife’ and the masculine term ‘husband’ are generally used to describe the parties of the contract. Other forms of marriage also exist, however. For example polygamy, in which a person takes more than one spouse, exists in many societies. Currently, the legal concept of marriage is expanding to include same-sex marriage in some areas as well.

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Bride and groom signing the book: The most frequently occurring form of marriage is between a woman and a man, where the feminine term ‘wife’ and the masculine term ‘husband’ are generally used to describe the parties of the contract.

Wedding Ceremony

The reasons people marry vary widely, but usually include the desire to publicly and formally declare their love, to form a single household unit, to legitimize sexual relations and procreation, for social and economic stability, and for the education and nurturing of children. A marriage can be declared by a wedding ceremony, which may be performed either by a religious officiator or through a similar government-sanctioned secular process. The act of marriage creates obligations between the individuals involved, and, in some societies, between the parties’ extended families.

Types of Marriage

Outside of the traditional marriage between monogamous heterosexual couples, other forms of marriage exist. Same-sex is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or gender identity. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality. It is believed that same-sex unions were celebrated in Ancient Greece and Rome, some regions of China, such as Fujian, and at certain times in ancient European history. In the United States, although same-sex marriages are not recognized federally, same-sex couples can legally marry in six states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont) and the District of Columbia and receive state-level benefits.

A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage. Group marriage is a form of polyamory in which more than two persons form a family unit. All the members of the group marriage are considered to be married to all the other members of the group marriage. All members of the marriage share parental responsibility for any children arising from the marriage. In some jurisdictions, such as Brazil, New Zealand, Uruguay, France and the U.S. states of Hawaii and Illinois, civil unions are also open to opposite-sex couples.

Polygamy and polyandry are two less recognized (or supported) forms of marriage. In polygamy, a man usually takes on a number of different wives, although the literal translation of the term means marriage “between two or more partners”. Polyandry is specific to a woman taking on two or more husbands at a time, although it can more loosely mean having multiple sexual partners.

Cohabitation

Marriage is an institution which can join together people’s lives in a variety of emotional and economic ways. In many Western cultures, marriage usually leads to the formation of a new household comprising the married couple, with the married couple living together in the same home, often sharing the same bed, but in some other cultures this is not the tradition. Conversely, marriage is not a prerequisite for cohabitation. Cohabitation is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together in an intimate relationship, particularly an emotionally and sexually intimate one, on a long-term or permanent basis.

Romantic Love

Romance is the expressive and pleasurable feeling from an emotional attraction to another person, and is associated with love.

Learning Objectives

Describe the origins of the conception of romantic love

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • In the context of romantic love relationships, romance usually implies an expression of one’s strong romantic love, or one’s deep and strong emotional desires to connect with another person intimately.
  • The conception of romantic love was popularized in Western culture by the concept of courtly love.
  • Courtship is the period in a couple’s relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage, or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind.
  • Romantic love may also be classified according to two categories, “popular romance” and ” divine or spiritual” romance.
  • The “tragic” contradiction between romance and social expectations is forcibly portrayed in art.

Key Terms

  • courtship: The act of wooing in love; solicitation of individuals to marriage
  • courtly love: A mediaeval European conception of noble and chivalrous love, generally secret and between members of the nobility.
  • intimacy: Feeling or atmosphere of closeness and openness towards someone else, not necessarily involving sexuality.

Romance is the expressive and pleasurable feeling from an emotional attraction to another person associated with love. In the context of romantic love relationships, romance usually implies an expression of one’s strong romantic love, or one’s deep and strong emotional desires to connect with another person intimately.

During the initial stages of a romantic relationship, there is more often more emphasis on emotions—especially those of love, intimacy, compassion, appreciation, and affinity—rather than physical intimacy. Within an established relationship, romantic love can be defined as a freeing or optimizing of intimacy in a particularly luxurious manner, or perhaps in greater spirituality, irony, or peril to the relationship. In culture, arranged marriages and betrothals are customs that may conflict with romance due to the nature of the arrangement. It is possible, however, that strong romance and love can exist between the partners in an arranged marriage.

Romantic Practices

The conception of romantic love was popularized in Western culture by the concept of courtly love. Chevaliers, or knights in the Middle Ages, engaged in what were usually non-physical and non-marital relationships with women of nobility of whom they served. These relations were highly elaborate and ritualized in a complexity that was steeped in a framework of tradition, which stemmed from theories of etiquette derived out of chivalry as a moral code of conduct. Currently, courtship is the period in a couple’s relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage, or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind. In courtship, a couple gets to know each other and decides if there will be an engagement or other such agreement. A courtship may be an informal and private matter between two people, or it may be a public affair or formal arrangement with family approval.

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Courting: The conception of romantic love was popularized in Western culture by the concept of courtly love.

Types of Romantic Love

Romantic love is contrasted with platonic love which in all usages precludes sexual relations, yet only in the modern usage does it take on a fully asexual sense, rather than the classical sense in which sexual drives are sublimated. Unrequited love can be romantic in different ways: comic, tragic, or in the sense that sublimation itself is comparable to romance, where the spirituality of both art and egalitarian ideals is combined with strong character and emotions. Unrequited love is typical of the period of romanticism, but the term is distinct from any romance that might arise within it.

Romantic love may also be classified according to two categories: “popular romance” and “divine or spiritual” romance. Popular romance may include but is not limited to the following types: idealistic, normal intense, predictable as well as unpredictable, consuming, intense but out of control, material and commercial, physical and sexual, and finally grand and demonstrative. Divine romance may include, but is not limited to these following types: realistic, as well as plausible unrealistic, optimistic as well as abiding.

Tragedy and Other Social Issues

The “tragic” contradiction between romance and society is most forcibly portrayed in literature, in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The female protagonists in such stories are driven to suicide as if dying for a cause of freedom from various oppressions of marriage. Reciprocity of the sexes appears in the ancient world primarily in myth where it is in fact often the subject of tragedy, for example in the myths of Theseus and Atalanta. Noteworthy female freedom or power was an exception rather than the rule, though this is a matter of speculation and debate.

Marital Residence

Marriage is an institution which can join together people’s lives in a variety of emotional and economic ways.

Learning Objectives

Describe cohabitation trends in the U.S.

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Cohabitation is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together in an physically and emotionally intimate relationship on a long-term or permanent basis.
  • Over the years, evidence indicating cohabiting increases the likelihood of split has always been more prevalent than evidence that suggests it is helpful.
  • Cohabitation in the United States became common in the late 20th century.
  • Some places, including the state of California, have laws that recognize cohabiting couples as ” domestic partners “.

Key Terms

  • cohabitation: An emotionally and physically intimate relationship that includes a common living place and which exists without legal or religious sanction.
  • Domestic Partners: Two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are neither joined by marriage nor a civil union, yet may have other legal guarantees.
  • Likelihood of Split: The probability that a romantic union will dissolve.

Marriage is an institution which can join together people’s lives in a variety of emotional and economic ways. In many Western cultures, marriage usually leads to the married couple living together in the same home, often sharing the same bed. In some other cultures, this is not the tradition.

Conversely, marriage is not a prerequisite for cohabitation. Cohabitation is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together in an physically and emotionally intimate relationship on a long-term or permanent basis.

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Household types in the United States in 2006: This figure shows that roughly 5% of households in the United States are made up of cohabiting couples of various types: heterosexual, gay, or, lesbian.

Conflicting studies on the effect of cohabitation on marriage have been published. But over the years, evidence indicating cohabiting increases the likelihood of split has always been more prevalent than evidence that suggests it is helpful. For married couples, the percentage of the relationship ending after five years is 20%, for cohabitators the percentage is 49%. The percentage of the relationship ending after 10 years is 33% for married couples and 62% for cohabitators.

The parenting role of cohabiting partners could also have a negative effect on the child. The partner that is not the parent, usually the father, does not have “explicit legal, financial, supervisory or custodial rights or responsibilities regarding the children of his partner” according to Waite. This can cause an unstable living arrangement for a child in which he or she acts out because the partner is “not their real parent. ”

Cohabitation in the United States became common in the late 20th century. Although it is illegal in five states, a total of 4.85 million couples live together. A scientific survey of over 1,000 married men and women in the United States found that those who moved in with a lover before engagement or marriage reported significantly lower quality marriages and a greater possibility for splitting up than other couples. About 20% of those who cohabited before getting engaged had since suggested divorce, as compared with only 12% of those who only moved in together after getting engaged and 10% who did not cohabit prior to the marriage.

Some places, including the state of California, have laws that recognize cohabiting couples as domestic partners. In California, such couples are defined as people who “have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring,” including having a “common residence, and are the same sex or persons of opposite sex if one or both of the persons are over the age of 62. ”

Mate Selection

There is wide cross-cultural variation in the social rules governing the selection of a partner for marriage.

Learning Objectives

Differentiate between arranged marriages and forced marriages

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • An arranged marriage is an agreement in which both parties consent to the assistance of their parents or a third party.
  • Endogamy refers to the rule that a marital partner must be selected from an individual’s own social group. This is common in caste-based societies.
  • Exogamy refers to the rule that a marital partner must be chosen from a different group than one’s own. This is common in totemic societies.
  • In other cultures, a partner can be chosen through courtship. Marriage can also be arranged by the couple’s parents through an outside party, a matchmaker.
  • Forced marriage is a term used to describe a marriage in which one or both of the parties is married without consent.
  • In some societies ranging from Central Asia to the Caucasus to Africa, the custom of bride kidnapping still exists, in which a woman is captured by a man and his friends.
  • In some societies ranging from Central Asia to the Caucasus to Africa, the custom of bride kidnapping still exists, in which a woman is captured by a man and his friends.

Key Terms

  • matchmaker: someone who finds suitable marriage partners
  • courtship: The act of wooing in love; solicitation of individuals to marriage
  • shotgun wedding: This refers to a forced wedding that occurs because a bride is already pregnant.

There is wide cross-cultural variation in the social rules that govern the selection of marriage partners. In some communities, partner selection is an individual decision, while in others, it is a collective decision made by the partners’ kin groups. Among different cultures, there is also variation in the rules regulating whom individuals can choose to marry.

Arranged Marriages

An arranged marriage is an agreement in which both parties consent to the assistance of their parents or a third party. Arranged marriage has deep roots in the behavior of royal and aristocratic families around the world. Today, arranged marriage is largely practiced in South Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka), Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. To some extent, it also occurs in parts of East Asia.

In many societies, the choice of partner is limited to suitable persons from specific social groups. In some of these societies, individuals are only allowed to select partners from the individual’s social group. This is a practice called endogamy, and is common in many class and casted-based societies, like India. In other societies, on the other hand, partners can be selected from a different social group than one’s own. This is called exogamy, and is common in societies that practice totemic religion, in which society is divided into a number of distinct, exogamous, totemic clans.

In cultures with fewer rules governing mate selection, the process of finding a partner might include courtship. It might also be arranged by an individual’s parent through an outside party, called a matchmaker.

Forced Marriages

Forced marriage is a term used to describe a marriage in which one or both parties is married without consent, against his or her will. In a shotgun wedding, a marriage between two people is forced because of an unplanned pregnancy. Some cultures and religions consider it a moral imperative to marry in such a situation. This is based on the reasoning that premarital sex, and out-of-wedlock births, are sinful, and should be outlawed or stigmatized. As the stigma associated with out-of-wedlock births has faded over the years, and the number of such births has increased, shotgun weddings have become less common. They have also become less common because of the increasing availability of birth control, abortions, and welfare support for unwed mothers. Fewer people perceive shotgun weddings to be necessary in order to support the woman and the child.

In some societies, ranging from Central Asia to Africa, the custom of bride kidnapping still exists, in which a woman is captured by a man and his friends. This practice occasionally exists to conceal an elopement, but it also occasionally represents sexual violence.

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Arranged Marriages in Europe: an arranged marriage between Louis XIV of France and Maria Theresa of Spain

Child Rearing

Child rearing is the process of supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child.

Learning Objectives

Apply Baumrind’s parenting style categories to families in your own environment.

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Parenting is usually done by the biological parents of the child in question, although governments and society play roles as well.
  • Authoritarian parents have a strict set of rules and expectations.  This approach controls, but also intimidates, and can inhibit a child.  Rigid obedience is required.
  • Authoritative parents also create clear behavioral guidelines, but this approach balances discipline with warmth.  It promotes positive reinforcement, learning from mistakes, and infrequent use of punishment.
  • Permissive or Indulgent parents espouse autonomy without consequences, in the name of granting a child freedom.  This approach relies mostly on affection, reasoning, and explanation, and does not factor in personal responsibility.
  • Uninvolved parents eschew limits altogether, and may ignore a child to the point of neglect.  This is often the default approach when parents are emotionally and/or physically absent.
  • The ideology of “motherhood” portrays mothers as the ultimate caregivers, however, fathers have begun to spend more caregiving time with their children.

Key Terms

  • Authoritative parenting: Parenting that relies on positive reinforcement and infrequent use of punishment.
  • Authoritarian parenting: A parenting style that relies on a strict set of rules and rigid obedience.
  • Uninvolved Parenting: Often applies when parents are emotionally absent and sometimes even physically absent.

Child rearing is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to aspects of raising a child aside from the biological relationship. Parenting is usually done by the biological parents of the child in question, with governments and society playing ancillary roles. Orphaned or abandoned children are often reared by non-parent blood relations.

Parenting Styles

Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind identified three main parenting styles in early child development: Authoritative, Authoritarian, and Permissive. These parenting styles were later expanded to four, including an Uninvolved style. They involve combinations of acceptance and responsiveness on the one hand, and demand and control on the other.

Authoritarian parenting is very rigid and strict. Parents who practice it have a set of rules and expectations, and they require rigid obedience. If rules are not followed, punishment is most often used to ensure obedience.

Authoritative parenting relies on positive reinforcement and infrequent use of punishment. These parents are more aware of a child’s feelings and capabilities, and support the development of a child’s autonomy within reasonable limits. There is a give-and-take atmosphere involved in parent-child communication, and both control and support are exercised.

With Permissive or Indulgent parenting, a child’s freedom and autonomy are valued above all.  These parents rarely find fault with their child and when they do, they tend to rely mostly on reasoning and explanation. There are few rules, few consequences, and children are said to be free from external constraints.

In Uninvolved families, parents are often emotionally absent and sometimes even physically absent. Expectations and regular communication are minimal. These parents are not responsive to a child’s needs and do not demand anything of them behaviorally. They provide for basic survival, but offer little to no engagement.

Parental Roles and Responsibilities

The ideology of “motherhood” portrays mothers as the ultimate caregivers. They invest copious time in their children, which may affect their job and role in the labor market.  Although stay-at-home moms are less common in today’s economy, women statistically spend more time nurturing children than men do.

However, fathers are beginning to spend more hands-on time with their children as parenting roles evolve.  Couples are now more likely to share household and child-rearing responsibilities, such as bathing, dressing, feeding, changing diapers, and comforting children, along with cooking and cleaning.

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Motherhood: A Nepalese woman and her infant child.