Marriage, according to the legal definition, refers to the legal condition, status or relationship which results due to the contract of one woman and one man who are capable of entering into such an agreement of promising to live mutually together in the husband and wife relationship in law during their lives or until such a relationship is legally terminated (Dyzenhaus, Moreau & Ripstein, 2007). However, the legal definition of marriage and its composition is globally changing and therefore begging to the question as to “what constitutes a marriage?” This question has been posed several times and individuals have been wondering whether marriage is constituted through sexual intercourse, wedding vows or something else. According to the Biblical Patriarchy, marriage in which the soul (soul tie), the spirit (marriage-holy) and the body (sex) are all involved. Thus an act of legitimate marriage starts when there is the verbal or non verbal commitment of two hearts to one another which is followed by a firm commitment before the Lord and finally into the physical union. Physical union alone does not therefore constitute a marriage.
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Culturally, marriage is determined through the connection of people through marriage or blood (consanguineal relationships). In all cultures, these forms of relationships are always the same because any person is capable through the principle in tracing any relationship either to a spouse, children’s children, children, parents’ siblings or parents for that matter. Objective relationships of marriage and blood are culturally turned into kinship even though some genealogical relationships are not recognized by people across all cultures. A person’s kin is therefore constituted through the genealogical ties chosen by such an individual’s culture. Some of the procedural passages of marriage will therefore require that the parties which are involved declare publicly their intention to marry through a betrothal, leave their parents, a feast; the husband takes in his wife and finally the physical union (Coontz, 2005).
In marriage, the rule of different strokes applying for different folks is utterly true. This is because different lifestyles and situations call for individuals to resort to different forms of marriages which may or may not follow the traditional path. The characteristics, forms and functions of a marriage may differ depending on one’s culture. Interracial marriages happen when two individuals who come from different racial groups decide to marry. This form of marriage is also known as exogamy (marrying outside an individual’s racial group). An African getting married to a European or vice versa is a good example of an interracial marriage. A marriage of convenience is a marriage that occurs between two individuals for financial or practical reasons and which are not based on any intimacy or love. Such a kind of marriage is normally based on expediency instead of love. For instance during the 1800’s women who were widowed in the Old West of the United States of America resorted to marriages of convenience so as to survive the hardships arising in homesteading (Russell, 2009).
An arranged marriage refers to a marriage that neither the groom nor the bride has to official authority or say to select their future partners or spouses and in which all the concerned parties consent towards the marriage. Over the years, arranged marriages have formed the basis of successful family lives in the traditional setting. Arranged marriages are also known as pragmatic marriages. Domestic partnerships refers to the legal or personal relationships which occur between two people living together and sharing domestic duties but have not been joined either through a civil union or marriage. In some other jurisdictions like New Zealand, Australia, California and others, domestic partnerships are equated to marriage or same or different sex unions that are legally recognized. Political or economic marriages refers to marriages in which the partners undertake to get married because of social, political or economic benefits and which lacks any personal attachment. Marriages of convenience have been known to be contracted for some strategic motives other than for love, family or relationships. Various marriages have existed over time like for instance forced marriages, early marriages (Coontz, 2005).
Despite the fact that there exist various forms of marriages, some are correct while others are incorrect. A marriage is considered to be correct if it follows the laid down rules and regulations of marriage and it upholds the values and dignity of family life. The Christian marriages done through weddings are the correct forms of marriages because the parties swear before God that they have decided to stay together as husband and wife for good or for worse. Christian marriages are correct because they are based on biblical teachings in which the parties promise to stay together while upholding Christian teachings and principals regarding marriages (Dyzenhaus, et al, 2007).
Marriage is not static because it keeps evolving or changing over time. Marriages cannot be the same anymore over time; all marriages have been known to change especially with the arrival of children. A marriage cannot be static because with the arrival of children, a lot of demands come with them making the husband be pushed to the sidelines because of the heavy schedule of the wife. Unless the partners become committed towards their marriage, then keeping the family together becomes very difficult and therefore divorce or break ups are bound to happen during any stage of marriage. Marriages are known to constantly evolve because as a couple grows, they have to adapt to each other and do things together. The stages of marriage have been divided into five categories that are inevitable. The first stage known as the young love is the first two years of marriage, the second stage is between the third and tenth year while the third stage is between 11th and between 25th years. The fourth stage is between 26 years and 35 years while the last stage is after twenty six years. These stages are inevitable because the institution of marriage is not static but continually changes as time goes by. The stage of marriage is inevitable in the human psyche because of change (Russell, 2009).
Marriage is necessary in the contemporary society despite the high rates of divorce because the institution of marriage brings about recreation and brings up a morally just society which respects the values and aspects of family life. Marriage is necessary and all the people who are involved in it should by all means do everything possible to ensure that it is intact and it leaves up to its objectives and purposes (Russell, 2009).
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