Kaitlyn Decker Mrs. DeMarchi English 4, Period 7 November 4, 2010 Marriage Essay Marriage, like the United States Constitution, is a living, breathing object. The history of marriage for the American society was founded by different cultures such as Hebrew, Germanic, Roman and many more. Later it was shaped by the Christian church along with other factors displaying themselves in the country such as the Industrial Revolution and the Protestant Reformation.Marriage in the twenty-first century is also being changed with the society and world around it, not just socially but legally.

Looking back into marriage during the nineteenth century many stereotypes from the twenty-first century can be seen, supported by facts. This would include that for the most of part it is commonly acknowledged that marriage was not a mere personal matter concerning only husband and wife, it seemed actually not to include the wife what so ever besides her physical body.Rather the business of the two families concerned, where they would bring together the husband and wife, with or with out the individuals consent, therefore the majority of marriages that took place in the nineteenth-century could be labeled as arranged marriages. As many of these arranged marriages were actually means of economic succession, there was little talk of need for room that would host for romantic love between the husband and wife.Simple pleasantries or affectionate gestures were not mandatory as well between the couples, as the marital duties were all that were important in the eye of society at the time; these duties including procreation and open cooperation by both parties of the marriage. Moreover, the wife usually had much fewer rights than her husband and was expected to be subservient to him. It came as a surprise though to discover that in the nineteenth-century, divorce was often easily granted and an efficient divorce system was actually created during the mid nineteenth-century.

Though during this time the wife had many fewer rights than her own husband, therefore expected to be subservient to him by all means, this acquiescent attitude continued into divorce as well. Men would most commonly have the advantage where they could simply dismiss their wives, but that does not discount the fact that women had the right to sue for a divorce. Though divorce was not high, as it was still looked down upon by society, reasons of its occurrence can be understood from the pressure that is instilled on single individuals to get married, to those they have no romantic inclination towards.This pressure seemed to be partially lifted under the influence of Christianity when the religion itself found virtue in celibacy. Many may think that marital experimentation was concocted by same sex marriage, but truly America was no stranger to marital changes and experiments back in the nineteenth century as well.

The Oneida Community Founded is a perfect example; created by John Noyes (1948) where they cultivated the form “complex marriage”. This included a marriage that, theoretically every woman was married to every man.The community of Oneida in upstate New York also practiced “scientific breeding”. This was more of a scientific outlook on marriage in which potential parents were matched for physical and mental health by a committee. Another largely debated form of marriage back in the nineteenth century included polygamy. The members of the Mormon Church, who were the individuals who practiced polygamy in the United States of America, were relentlessly persecuted, harassed, and ridiculed for this. Finally, they were forced to abandon the practice in the states as it was outlawed.

Monogamy was and still is the only accepted form of marriage in both Catholic and Protestant countries, and as the United States during the nineteenth century was controlled by the Catholic community, it is easy to understand why the Mormon faith of polygamy was disvalued. The emancipation of marriage and divorce laws from under the thumb of the church resulted in large developments of individual freedom regarding marriage and dating. Parents began to lose influence over the marital choices of their children while romantic love finally became an important factor in marriage.These views on marriage have carried themselves out into the twenty-first century. But while these ideologies have stood the test of time, as have some more biblical senses that were seen in the nineteenth-century. Marriage for the twenty-first century American Society has differentiated itself almost entirely it seems from the nineteenth-century definition of marriage.

While during the nineteenth-century, respect seemed to be out the window in terms of marriage, twenty-first century American’s want love and respect from their partner before they even consider marriage.While in the nineteenth-century women would be married off to men they may have just met for financial stability, women of the twenty-first century now choose to wait till late twenties, early thirties to consider marriage. The independency of women has been a huge factor in the adaption of marriage in the United States, as women choose to have their own stable careers before considering marriage and procreation. The divorce rate has also sky rocketed sense the nineteenth century where it was a miniscule breeze in the air; it has now turned into a full out tropical storm in the twenty-first century.

Though the institution of divorce was known and slightly used during the nineteenth-century, religious holdings kept individuals from getting divorced as it instilled a view of the devil in the practice. Now, with not only men having the right to openly request divorces, but women as well, the numbers have risen. Along with the nineteenth-century view of marriage being a social necessity, twenty-first century society decided to alter that view as well. Though ideally it is still a strong desire in the American public to grow and get married it is openly seen as an option to all individuals.


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