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History of Marriage blog article. Man proposing to fiance.

The History of Marriage

Consider this as your concise overview of the institution of marriage. We won’t delve excessively into religious aspects or various forms of marriage; instead, we’ll provide you with a glimpse of its origins and contemporary manifestation.

When was marriage invented?

The history of marriage. The concept of marriage dates back to 2350 BC in Mesopotamia. In ancient Rome and Egypt, engagement rings and wedding rings were symbols of eternity, representing the infinite bond between couples. These rings were traditionally worn on the left ring finger due to the belief that a nerve connected it directly to the heart, which added a touch of endearment to the tradition.

In today’s world, couples define love, fulfillment, and respect according to their own values and preferences. While marriage can still symbolize the formation of a family, the definition of family structures has evolved significantly. A family is now recognized as any group of individuals, including those who consider their beloved pets as their only children.

Furthermore, the traditional notion that marriage ensured a couple’s legitimacy has changed over time. Civil partnerships, cohabitation, and common-law marriages have provided alternative avenues of legal recognition for couples who choose not to follow the conventional path. Today, It is now possible to share health insurance and other benefits without sharing the same last name.

However, it’s worth noting that in the early days, one of the motivations for entering into marriage was to gain financial stability (no judgment). Let’s explore the reasons behind this phenomenon.

The History of Marriage blog article

The Origins of Marriage

For countless centuries, humans lived without the institution of marriage and formed familial groups consisting of around 30 individuals, including men, women, and their children. However, with the advent of agriculture, our societies underwent significant changes, leading to the emergence of settled communities.

Approximately 4,000 years ago, as we sought stability within these agricultural settlements, we began organizing ourselves into smaller groups. This shift brought about the concepts of ownership and inheritance, as well as the necessity for offspring to assist with farming activities. To establish the legitimacy of biological heirs, the institution of marriage was established to assert a man’s control over women and children. It was an origin story devoid of sweetness or sentimentality, embodying the one-sided notion of “what’s mine is yours.” This even extended to Greek culture, where the father of the bride would give his daughter away, stating, “I pledge my daughter for the purpose of producing legitimate offspring.” During this era, husbands could even return their wives and marry another if the duty of producing children was not fulfilled, all while engaging in extramarital affairs. Therefore, divorce did not originate from a desire for genuine love.

In the history of marriage… If this sounds like treating people as commodities, it’s because it essentially was. Marriage became a transaction where women bore all the obligations while men enjoyed ownership. Maintaining lineages was advantageous for keeping property within specific circles or helping families ascend the social ladder. Selecting a spouse involved strategic considerations, such as evaluating what their family could offer (or what the husband could bring to the table), encompassing elements like dowries and bride prices. Do you remember watching James Cameron’s Titanic? This is the perfect example of strategy vs love.

Many people still approach partnerships in this manner…

However, when Catholicism gained influence in Europe, marriage became synonymous with obtaining God’s blessing, implying a sacred union. This is when the concepts of witnesses and testimony became significant. By 1563, with a substantial overlap between the Church and the state, marriage became a legally recognized ceremony. If you wanted your partnership to be acknowledged by the government, this was the required route. Fidelity (and the stigma against divorce) followed suit.

In summary, the purpose of a marriage license was to prevent sin and encourage procreation. Many cultures still hold onto these ideals. However, there was a turning point in this narrative.

The History of Marriage oval diamond engagement ring

The Transformation of Marriage

So, when did love start playing a role in marriage? When did marriage transition from being a matter of ownership and alliances to something more enjoyable? It’s a relatively recent development, occurring only in the last century.

Vows became a part of marriage just 500 years ago. During the Victorian era in England, also known as the time of sentimental gestures like keeping locks of hair as mementos, marriage began to be based on trust, devotion, and love rather than social status or servitude. Love matches became acceptable foundations for marriage, and the happiness of the couple became paramount, with each person bringing something valuable to the union instead of one person belonging to the other.

In their rebellious nature, the French and Americans literally “revolutionized” marriage. They pursued personal happiness and sought to define what they desired in a lifelong partnership. Fertility was not always the primary concern.

Furthermore, the availability of work opportunities transformed the dynamics of marriage. Individuals were no longer solely dependent on their family’s financial situation or confined to a life centered around the family farm. This newfound independence and self-reliance led people to consider having fewer or no children.

Civil rights movements also had a profound impact. As marginalized groups, such as women, entered the workforce and gained the right to vote (starting around the 1920s), marriage began to be viewed as a joint decision between two individuals. The acceptance of interracial marriage in the 1960s and same-sex marriage in 2013 challenged long-held prejudices about who “could” get married. For some, societal, religious, and family approval became less important in determining the validity of a marriage. The negotiations involved fewer individuals and entities, disapproval was no longer grounds for dissolution, and the focus shifted to aligning values rather than perpetuating handed-down practices.

With the inclusion of various gender identities in the history of marriage and the influence of citizenship, cultural expectations and gender roles have also evolved. There is now an emphasis on equitable division of labor and shared responsibilities. Marriage can be seen as a celebration of two individuals coming together, supporting each other’s accomplishments, and giving and receiving in equal measure.

In today’s world, where the freedom to choose a lifelong partner exists, marriage has become both thrilling and daunting. Much of what has survived and evolved from this tradition is undeniably beautiful.

Tie the Knot with Gittelson Jewelers

In today’s world, there is a multitude of ways to find your lifelong partner, ranging from dating apps to professional matchmakers. The process of discovering your eternal companion has become as diverse as the methods used to propose marriage. Each couple has their own distinct notions of commitment, as well as their individual ways of supporting and being there for each other. However, when you do find that special person in your life, Gittelson Jewelers provides exceptional jewelry options that allow you to symbolize and express the priceless bond you share with your partner.

You can also custom-design your own engagement ring.

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