What Does It Mean Nowadays?

As you may have guessed from the previous few posts, I’ve finished One Perfect Day. Today’s post is also coming from a nugget I picked up from the book, one that I find to be a deeper issue than wedding withdrawal: What’s the point of getting married?

Rebecca Mead, looking at the purpose of marriage anthropologically as a rite of passage, something that signals a transition from one life phase to another, searches for the meaning of marriage today and comes up empty. With studies being conducted on whether or not marriage is obsolete, one could say Mead was before her time (the book came out in 2005 or 2006 and her research was done slightly before then–in fact, in her book, LeAnn Rimes and Dean Shermet are still married).

Mead gives several traditional reasons for marriage, and it seems that none of them apply anymore: moving out of parents home, having sex, living together, having children, a transition into adulthood, etc. Most people have moved out, begun having sex, moved in with partners, and had children before marriage in today’s world. People don’t feel the need to have their marriage “sanctioned by God,” as they either don’t believe in Him or willfully ignore certain of his commandments, so they aren’t bowing to religious calls, for the most part. For every age old rite that marriage granted, there seems to be a substitute? The only reason left that Mead could find was legal or financial–to get certain legal benefits and financial benefits that only marriage affords. Marriage doesn’t even seem to signal lifelong commitment anymore–if you don’t like your spouse any longer, it’s easy to get divorced and try again.

I had a visceral reaction to this. I wanted to refute this. I could refute this. I was one of those who hadn’t tried the substitutes and didn’t want them. I had high hopes and expectations for my imaginary marriage. God doesn’t accept the substitutes! He created marriage. What was this woman talking about? Only, for a large segment of the population, she was spot on; this is what has happened to marriage.

As many friends as I have who are married, I also have friends who simply don’t believe it’s necessary. They “don’t need a piece of paper to validate their feelings.” They “aren’t very religious,” or are “already spiritually wed.” They believe “the ceremony is for other people.” After all, “most marriages end in divorce anyway, and we’re happy the way things are.”

On the other hand, there are only two camps for marriage: those who ARE religious and think it’s a necessity for sex, living together, sanction by God, and creating a family, and those who think “if you aren’t going to fornicate/cohabitate/etc., you may as well get married and make it easy on yourself.” Yes, I am urged to marry to split bills and have sex. Because “it doesn’t make any sense, you all paying so much in rent living in two separate places.” “Two is always going to be better than one financially.”

I know what I think the point of getting married today is, but before I go into what I think, I want to know what you think. What’s the point of getting married? What does marriage mean? Is there a point? Are you married or will you marry? Why?

2 Comments

  1. Truthfully…I’m not sure marriage is really necessary unless you need benefits or are planning to have children. I don’t know what the bible says about it…but that’s just my (very) practical point of view. I am more stimulated by arranged marriages – I think they make more sense than for marrying for love 😛

    • 2blu2btru

      That’s an interesting topic, too. It seems to be a lot more logical and practical, that’s for sure. It assumes older people are wiser about what a married couple really need to have in common or have as a complement to the other person in a marriage, which is probably true. They don’t seem as concerned with looks. That said, I don’t want either of my parents choosing a husband for me. I see marriage as a commitment, and I couldn’t commit to marrying someone I didn’t choose for whatever reasons I have. But then, those are my Western sensibilities.

      I do know in some countries and classes/castes, you get a bit of a choice (like between a couple candidates). Mr. Perfect’s boss was in that situation; he chose the prettier one–his family was pushing for the other). I don’t know if this is in response to Western culture’s infiltration or what.

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