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To Marry or Not

Commitment or Contract

Picture I took of a married couple and their newborn child

At this point I wonder, is marriage the end goal or a bargaining chip in a relationship? I have always viewed it as the ultimate commitment and the best way of showing how dedicated you are to your partner. It looks like for some it is an option used for perks. Taking a closer look at the history of the traditions of marriage might provide more insight on how we approach unions of all types today.

Marriage has origins in several different cultures. Dating back to Ancient Rome, the engagement ring was believed to represent eternity and everlasting union. Some cultures believed marriage to be endogamous. This is something some of us may have seen in shows or movies. This is when people are married based on their social group: clan, tribe etc. Some cultures believe in exogamy. This is marrying outside of your group (culture, social group etc..). Polygamy is also a type of marriage some cultures believe in. This is still a popular topic and practice today. Polygamy is a man having more than one wife. These are a few of the traditions involved with marriage. Christianity and Catholicism would later become interested in the ceremony of marriage. This shaped it to resemble the monogamous union before God most of us see it as today. After exploring a little bit of the history of marriage we can look forward to how it works today.

We, in our own ways, carry on these traditions that most of us are clueless about. People tend to look for partners of a certain social status (endogamy). People tend to marry outside of their group (exogamy). There are still cultures that allow men to take on more than one wife (polygamy). If these traditions all derive from a very different world why do we put some much emphasis on them? The people I have come across all identify with the Christian and Catholic traditions associated with marriage, however, that does not make anyone else wrong. In our society today, marriage represents a monogamous union as the tradition dictates. That very same tradition also dictates that it should be between a man and woman. If we adhere to this standard same-sex marriages should not exist. It seems that we are choosing to follow traditions for convenience.

I think the most important thing we forget about is finding middle ground. What represents the best win/win situation for us. I have spoken to several people on topics regarding commitment in relationships. The biggest issue I have witnessed is communication. People would rather protect their ego and pride than to be transparent and vulnerable. This usually leads to issues or, in worst case scenarios, separation. I think in these scenarios the union and/or marriage is a contract instead of a commitment. Contracts are pretty specific and lack flexibility. Either you abide by it or break it. A commitment is way more flexible. This is someone being flexible and remaining loyal to the common goal. Flexibility will keep you open-minded while working on your union.

Marriage should be what you make it. It should be unique to you and your partner. Stop letting trends and/or traditions dictate what your marriage should be. My marriage is far from perfect but it is mine and I love it. My wife and I are slowly learning that every tradition may not suit us, therefore, we should do what works best for us. Stop placing unrealistic standards on what marriage should be. Figure out what you and your partner need as well as want for your union. Marriage may not be the route you choose to take. Your union is just that, yours!

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To Marry or Not
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