The Concept and Meaning of Marriage
Marriage is a union between two or more individuals who are legally and culturally in a contractual and consensual relationship. Traditionally, it is the union between a man and a woman also known as spouses.
The definition of marriage can depend on social practices and beliefs. For instance, the traditional understanding of marriage has changed as a result of the rise in same-sex marriage, group marriage, open marriage, and other forms of marriage.
"This is what marriage means: helping one another to reach the full status of being persons, responsible beings who do not run away from life." —Paul Tournier
“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” ― Dave Meurer
12 Types of Marriage/Matrimony
Marriage can be classified base on how it is practiced, culture, the number of individuals involved, the law that governs the union, or how or where it was registered and approved.
There are many types of marriage but we are going to share only 12, as follows:
Monogamous marriage is marriage between two individuals who do not have any other emotional or sexual connection with anyone else beside themselves. It is the most commonly practiced type of marriage, often seen as a western marriage system.
2. Polygamous marriage or polygamy
This is a type of marriage involving a man and many women as wives. The number of women in this kind of marriage ranges from two and above. It is mostly practiced in Africa and Asia and highly approved by traditional Africans and Islam.
3. Traditional marriage
This is a kind of marriage organized based on culture and traditional principles. Traditional marriage, therefore, varies according to an individual culture, ethnicity, and tribe. It is one of the most popular types of marriage in Africa.
4. Religious marriage
This is a kind of marriage that the couples are united and registered by a religious body such as a Christian wedding also known as holy matrimony which takes place in the church. Such marriage follows religious rules and principles and takes place in the church, mosques, or any religious building.
“The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make – not just on your wedding day, but over and over again – and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.” ― Barbara De Angelis
Marriage is one of the main themes in Christianity. The Holy Bible makes mention of marriage in many of its verses including the Story of Creation in Genesis 2 verse 18 to 25.
“And Adam said, This is the bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." - Genesis 2:23-24
Religious marriage can be interfaith or within the same faith. Interfaith marriage is the marriage between people from different religious backgrounds.
5. Civil marriage
Any kind of marriage that is recognized by the government or state whether through religious or court registration is a civil marriage.
6. Common-law marriage
This occurs when two people decide to marry each other, and even begin to live as husband and wife without any form of marriage registry. They may not even follow the traditional requirements for marriage like the payment of bride prize.
7. Court marriage
Any marriage arrangement which requires approval and a marriage certificate from a court of law. Sometimes couples skip traditional and religious marriage and go to court for their marital vow. Often, court marriage is done as a complement to traditional or religious marriage. Couples prefer court marriage because it has the most authentic legal backup and agreement in case of divorce or disagreement.
8. Shotgun marriage
This is a circumstantial marriage mostly resulting from unexpected pregnancy between two lovers who have no option but to accept each other as husband and wife. In most traditions around the world, once a man impregnates a woman, marriage becomes a must.
Abas Obot| April 05, 2022
9. Interracial marriage
This is marriage between people of different races. An example is a white American marrying an African.
10. Group marriage
This kind of marriage involves two or more men marrying two or more women. Each member of the group has full marital rights over other members of the group.
11. Open marriage
In this form of marriage, individual couples agree to be free in having sexual affairs outside the marriage. This is always agreed upon between the couples so it is different from infidelity.
This is the opposite of polygamy. Unlike polygamy, in polyandry, it is the woman that marries more than one man at a time. This type of marriage is very rare in modern society but it is still in practice.
There are other types of marriages such as secret marriage, same-sex marriage, and contract marriages among others that we cannot mention here. However, not all the types listed above are generally acceptable in society. Culture and religion play vital roles in the choice of marital practices and individual choices.
10 Reasons People Marry?
Have you been wondering why people marry? There are many reasons people choose to engage in marriage. Below are a few reasons we have selected for you:
Love is the most important reason people marry themselves. Irrespective of the need of an individual, without love, marriage may not be possible; even if it is possible, it may not last; even if it lasts, it may be a controversial marriage.
“Where there is love there is life.” – Mahatma Gandhi
One needs a level of love to be able to enjoy his/her marriage. Marriage without love is a great mistake, and any mistake in marriage is one of the worst mistakes you should never make in life. Love should be the number one criterion to choose a partner, of course, for many marriages, love is the reason.
2. Companionship and friendship
Marriage involves two people who work as close companions. Many people go into marriage because they need a partner who would always be there whenever they need a friend or someone who cares. Such reasons are always emotional because humans are social beings who need each other to be able to do certain things. Many see marriage as a solution to their emotional loneliness.
“Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.” —Franz Schubert
3. Procreation or childbearing
One of the major reasons people marry is because they want to have children. Many see procreation as the primary purpose of marriage, but it is not always the case when individuals are barren or decide not to have children. Of course, marriage is the bedrock of childbearing. Most times, to have a child out of wedlock is often seen as taboo in most societies. Therefore, if one chooses to have children, marriage is often considered the first step.
4. Intimacy and romance
A lot of people, if not everyone, marry because they need a sexual and intimate partner. Besides procreation, this is another important purpose of marriage. It cannot be marriage if it does not involve romance and sexual intimacy. It is through these that procreation and emotional closeness can be possible between couples.
5. Personal interest and gain
People can marry because of personal gains such as firms, popularity, political gains, social connections, and financial benefits. It is a popular practice for the rich to marry the rich or for people to go after those they know they can have material advantage.
6. Social and Cultural demands
Some societies can cause individuals to marry even when it may not be their personal choice. In some African cultures, for instance, people face social pressures if they do not marry on time. In such cases, individuals see marriage as mandatory, hence, would have reasons to marry, at least to avoid discriminations and mockery.
7. Religious rite
Marriage is one of the popular practices in almost every religion around the globe. Some religion consider marriage a mandate. For instance, you may not attain any serious leadership position in most Christian denominations if you are not married. This is also the case in many other religious organizations. This means that people who wish to be committed to certain religious rites may be required to marry.
8. Imposition or force-marriage
Marriage, sometimes, can come by force. There are many societies where parents force marriages on their children. Besides, there are cases where people are adopted and forced to marry against their choices. Child marriage can also be categorized under forced marriage. This is not a recommended form of marriage, but sometimes, the victim often ends up accepting his/her 'fate'.
People can marry because of certain circumstances beyond their control. For instance, in a situation where pregnancy occurs during an intimate relationship, individuals may find it a reason to accept marrying themselves.
10. Common practice
Many do not know exactly why they want to marry. They do not have vision or purpose for getting married. They just marry because it is the norm or simply because they are of age.
The reason for getting married can be personal and can also depend on the factors listed above. Irrespective of your religious, cultural, and/or personal standpoint, ensure that you marry for good reasons, not for selfish reasons; otherwise, your marriage may end in regret.
Benefits of marriage
Are there any benefits one can derive from marriage? Yes, there are a lot of benefits in marriage.
1. Emotional benefits of marriage
Studies have shown that having a faithful partner and being in a happy marriage can prolong life. Yes, people who live happily with each other have a great chance of having a long life. This is because spouses enjoy the benefit of having someone to share their emotions. There is a great relief when you have someone to share your feelings. This makes people who are in happy marriage to feel relieved from their emotional burden over those who have nowhere to turn.
“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” —Rita Rudner
2. Marriage can help to reduce depression
The fact that couples can share their feelings, pains and worries with each other, reduces emotional burdens among married people over those who are single. This reduces the rate of depression among couples.
According to a study co-authored by Georgia State University researchers, those who are married and earning less than $60,000 per year in total household income have fewer symptoms of depression than comparable earning unmarried people. However, people who have history of depression before marriage are more likely to be depressed by marital problems as published by mentalhelp.net.
This amazing ability of marriage to reduce depression is widely attributed to the high level of serotonin among married people.
3. Good mood and positivity
There is a high level of antidepressant hormones such as serotonin and testosterone among married couples.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the human body that is believed to induce a positive mood, and lower stress, depression, anger, and anxiety.
The bond between partners and the care and support they offer each other, including romantic moments helps to boost the production of serotonin. It is proven that people improve in character, behavior and lifestyle when they marry. While bad marriage can bring sadness, a successful marriage can be a key to happiness and satisfaction.
4. Health Benefits of Marriage
Besides health and maternity insurance that some governments offer to couples, a healthy marriage plays a vital role in the health and well-being of an individual. Feeling positive towards your partner and knowing someone is there for you boosts positivity and healing. Married people, also, tend to take fewer risks, eat better and look after each other's healthy lifestyle.
An article published on health.harvard.edu, states that behavior improves with marriage. Married people may take fewer risks, eat better, and maintain healthier lifestyles, on average, compared with single people.
There is also evidence that married people tend to keep regular doctors’ appointments and follow doctors’ recommendations more often than single people. The health benefits of a safe and healthy sexual life is also another aspect of the health benefits of marriage.
5. Financial benefits of marriage
There are a lot of financial benefits to marriage. Some of such benefits may be through direct financial support or indirect benefits. You can receive financial and social benefits of your spouse including pension and gratuity. This can happen if your spouse is deceased or over 60 years of age and unable to do things by himself/herself. In most societies, payment of the bride price can transform the financial status of any beneficial family. There are also cases where a wife or husband takes over the total financial responsibilities of the entire household when the other is financially down or unemployed. Couples can also partner to create effective savings and investment plans that benefit the family over a single individual.
6. Economic benefits
By law, the spouse can do business as an individual. Most governments do not tax husbands and wives separately. As a husband or wife, you are entitled to a lot of economic benefits from your partner including inheriting his/her properties after death. This is why assets are divided equally after divorce because by signing the marriage register, you have legally agreed to partner economically.
7. Socio-cultural benefits
Most cultures and societies respect married people more than single individuals. There is a high level of social security and respect accorded to couples. The husband, for instance, often defend the wife and the wife does the same in cases of insecurity.
On a very important note, a successful marriage promotes a happy family as most people who are divorced or unhappy in their marriage tend to affect family life.
8. Biological benefit
One of the most important reasons people marry is to have children. Getting married allows couples to respectfully raise children that belong to them. This helps to sustain generations.
9. Spiritual and religious benefit
From a religious perspective, marriage is regarded as a pathway to religious and spiritual purity. Most religions, like Christianity, regard sex before marriage as a sin and against the will of God. Marriage is a way to have an authorized and acceptable intimacy. Through marriage one stands the chance of being free from sexual immorality, guilt, and spiritual filthiness.
“Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone,
I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One.
I give ye my Spirit, 'til our Life shall be Done.”
― Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
The purpose of marriage
Marriage is a purposeful union. People often do not just wed each other for wedding sake, they marry for certain reasons and purposes.
Many have great dreams and plans about their current or future marriages. Man was designed by nature to marry. It is a blessed union by God.
The primary purpose of marriage is for, but not limited to, companionship, mutuality, and procreation.
And the LORD God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. -Genesis 2:18
Marriage is the basic framework of a family and the family is the functional unit of a society. Human society is a collection of communities that are formed by families. The role of the family in human existence cannot be overemphasized. A good society is a collective result of good families resulting from healthy marriages.
A failed marriage can give rise to undisciplined children who become menaces in society. Marriage is the most popular, trusted, and intimate union/partnership on earth. Even though marriages sometimes fail, it is our nature as humans to admire the great blessings marriage brings.
By nature, marriage is one of the means to unite cultures and society. Marriage can bring people from different cultures, races, religions, and backgrounds together, which makes it a tool for unity.
Man is a social being and needs a companion to function effectively. Many have accomplished their goals and fulfilled their dreams through marriage. It is a natural process for a man to feel complete and for the progress of the human society.
There is a feeling of completeness in marriage. It is often said that two heads are better than one.
Marriage should not be discouraged in our society because man cannot progress without healthy marriages that give rise to happy families and great children. Nonetheless, only a purposely marriage can last and fulfil its objectives. Any marriage which foundation is based on selfishness and lust cannot fulfil its purpose. In addition, while planning to get marriage, consider if you and your partner are compatible to each other. Without compatibility, marriage may also suffer a great setback.
FAQs About Marriage
- What if marriage fails?
- Is marriage an achievement?
- How can I have a happy and peaceful marriage?
- What if I cannot find a husband or wife, or decide not to marry?
- How can I restore peace and love in my marriage?
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"Marriage is like a graph—it has its ups and downs and as long as things bounce back up again, you’ve got a good marriage. If it heads straight down, then you’ve got some problems!" —Julie Andrews