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The family as an institution has been around since the times of our forefathers. It is a passage of line for most people. However, the foundations of marriages vary depending on a number of factors including religion, age, race, and finance among others. Similarly, instances of divorce have increased in the society leaving most children to be raised by single parents or to live on their own. This has prompted most researchers to investigate the foundation on which marriages are built. This paper seeks to find out whether people start families because of the love they have for one another or if it is nothing but a form of business.
In traditional communities, families depend on affinal and consanguine relatives to meet their challenges of survival. For instance, if the wife comes from an economically unstable family, her family will depend on their in-laws to meet the basic challenges in life like school fees, construction of a better house and so on. These are benefits that the wife’s family would not have attained if she was married to a poor family. Accordingly, parents would also wish for their daughters to get married in rich families (Knox and Schacht 23). In other instances, families would also depend on blood relatives like their cousins, uncles, nephews and nieces among others for survival. For instance, parents would send their son to his uncle for holiday or ask the uncle to find him a good job.
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In such a scenario, it would be very risky to choose marriage partners based specifically on romantic love because the family would lose out on so many benefits. To begin with, it would remain poor and continue struggling to meet their basic needs. Similarly, it will be very difficult for the family to come out of their poor state because you would require a godfather to find a better job no matter how hard you study (45). In such communities employment is not entirely based on merit. On the contrary, it depends on whom you know. The communities are engraved in corruption and one would have to be recommended by someone holding a senior post in a company to get employed.
On several occasions, sons and daughters introduce their spouses to their parents for their approval before they get married. This is an indication that marriage involves more people other than the two partners. For example, if the bride’s parents do not like her partner, the marriage is likely to be overwhelmed with opposition and even stopped. On other occasions, marriages have been canceled because the parents did not approve of the spouses’ religious background (Stephenson 12). For instance, the Muslims rarely marry people from other religions. Alternatively, the partners have to convert to Islam for the marriage to be approved. This demonstrates that love might be one of the reasons for marriage, but there are many more factors that are also considered.
On the same note, there are some traditional communities where two families decide in advance that their children will marry. Arranged marriages have been in existence for quite a long time. The tow partners have to get married not because they are in love, but because their parents say so. It is alleged that they will learn to love one another once they begin living together. This tradition is common with the Indians. The right husband is one with a successful business or a manager in a prosperous company. Sometimes, the bride’s family organizes the wedding ceremony. A number of families have been saved out of poverty by their in-laws. However, Szuchman and Anderson asset that it is not always a smooth ride (56). For instance, an arranged marriage could be staged for a young girl to get married to a rich and older man and become the second wife. As much as the family might get some privileges from the rich man, their daughter might end up living in misery.
Under these circumstances, marriages are not exclusively based on love. Some partners look for security in their marriages (Bennet 27). A woman would want to get married to a man from a family where she will be able to provide a comfortable life to her children. Studies have revealed that individuals with good jobs and steady income are likely to find a partner to marry faster than people with no stable jobs or income. This could therefore mean that since people with less education find it difficult to find stable jobs, they are less likely to get married. In some cases, love is the last aspect one would consider in a marriage. For instance, some people would first consider the physical appearance. Some men would only marry a woman if she is dead gorgeous because they want to feel comfortable in their friends’ company. However, for others physical appearance does not matter: character is more important (Knox and Schacht 59).
Another aspect that people tend to consider is the partner’s intelligence. This is mainly based on the conversation they have. If there is a huge difference between the intelligence of two partners, the relationship is not likely to last long. Quite often intelligence is based on the level of education. For example, a woman with a postgraduate degree would want to get married to a man with the same or higher level of education. Others only get married with the sole interest of children. When an individual, especially a lady, feels like she is growing older and she has not found a stable partner, she might end up getting married to the next man she dates even before getting to know him better. It is the joy of most women to have children and they would get married just for that. Others get married because their friends are married and they do not want to be left behind. Especially in the African society, women who remain single are looked down upon.
Marriage binds several groups because even in the situation where one chooses his/her own partner, he/she has to consult other parties (Stephenson 19). For instance, a girl would consult her girlfriends to make sure that she chooses the best partner. If her friends do not like the guy, there is a high chance that she might not marry him. In-laws could also determine the future of a marriage. Especially in situations where the bridegroom is the first born, his family would require him to take care of his siblings. For instance, he might be required to pay their school fees or live with them. If his wife is against such a plan, problems might arise in the marriage. In some traditional families, the husband might be forced to take care of his parents and his in-laws. Men who are close to their mothers are sometimes considered difficult to get married to because they listen too much to their mother’s views.
Marriage is more than a romantic engagement; it also has financial and legal ramifications making it similar to a corporate institution. Billions of dollars are spent every year on wedding ceremonies and honey moons (Bennet 61). Similarly, a substantial amount of money is spent on presents for spouses. So many groups of people also seek to cash in from marriages and wedding ceremonies. For instance, the dress makers, photographers, musicians, and caterers among others earn so much money by offering their services. Most importantly, the marriage certificate is a binding contract that could earn either party so much wealth in case of a divorce. On several occasions, celebrities have divorced and ended up sharing their wealth. The situation becomes worse when children are involved. Ideally, the first members of the corporation are the wife, husband and children. In case of a divorce, each of the three parties has to get a share of the fallen corporate institution.
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If a marriage was entirely based on love, the divorce rate would not be as high as 50% (Cherlin 22). During hearings in the divorce courts, the family bondage could be broken down in a minute by the judge. The wife could leave with the kids, take half of the assets including the house and still obtain child support and yet she might be earning more than the man. She would have benefited from the marriage contract. The marriage certificate is meant to legally bind the corporate institution so that even when one of the partners cheats or beats the other, he/she would have no choice but remain in the marriage until a divorce petition is signed. On several occasions, people have engaged in contract marriages to become legal citizens to a country. For instance, there has been an increase in the ‘Green Card marriages’. This is a situation where a foreigner marries an American citizen just to get the American citizenship and then files for divorce after about six months. It shows that sometimes there is no a single aspect of love in marriages.
Despite all other reasons for marriage, research shows that marriages that are based on possessions and money are likely to be unsatisfying. Materialisms in an individual could lower the emotional maturity, responsiveness level to the spouse, and weaken communication (Cherlin 30). Additionally, the love for money lowers the commitment to the marriage and might weaken the unit. If marriage is based on money, conflicts are bound to happen more frequently.
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