I have always wondered what people think of marriage aside its denotative meaning(s). So, I embarked on a little survey and threw the above question at people and in return, I got an amazing array of diverse opinions.
Before we delve into these various schools of thought, lets take a look at the etymology and meaning of this word marriage.
Historically, the term marriage derives from ‘mariage’ a 1250-1300 CE middle English word. This in turn is derived from an old French word, ‘marier’ (to marry) and ultimately Latin words, marītāre, meaning to provide with a husband or wife and marītāri meaning to get married.
It so happens that this prized word marriage has lots of varying definitions and no one definition applies to all culture or religion. So, we will outline a few.
— Edvard Westermack, the Finnish philosopher and sociologist in his book, The History of Human Marriage(1922), defined marriage as ‘A more or less durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the off spring’. He later provided a provisional definition of marriage in, The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization(1936), this time he defined marriage as ‘A relation of one or more men to one or more women that is recognized by custom or law’.
— The anthropological handbook notes and queries (1952), defined marriage as, ‘a union between a man and a woman such that children born of the woman are the recognized,legitimate offspring of both partners’.
— Marriage can also be defined as a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses as well as between them and any resulting biological or adopted children and affinity (in-laws and other family through marriage). This definition is arguably the most all encompassing of all.
SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT ON MARRIAGE
Away from the definition(s) of marriage, lets focus on what might pass as the most important aspect of this write up. As we all know, people give opinions on issues sometimes based on direct or indirect experience(s) in regards to the issue at hand. And we can never have similar opinions on marriage when there are people spread all over society from different homes with different experiences and life ideologies. The various opinions gathered from the survey have been placed in 3 different categories or schools of thought as I prefer to call them and they are:
1) NECESSARY, NOT OVERRATED
The people in the category believe that marriage is a necessity that can never be overrated, because just like breathing, marriage is divinely orchestrated, therefore it deserves whatever importance or attention been given to it. To them, procreation is one for the primary assignments of man and marriage provides an avenue for that. They are of the opinion that companionship is a necessity and marriage is a sure bet for it. If you run into a person in this group, you will most likely hear something in this line, ‘we need to express love and marriage is one way to do that. True happiness is in the fact that you have someone or people to call your own, to love and be loved by your husband and kids’. They would ask questions like ‘imagine spending the rest of your lifetime with your better half/ love of your life? They understand that marriage comes with a lot of drama, but they always strongly believe that it is definitely worth the show.
2) NOT NECESSARY, NOT OVERRATED, SIMPLY A CHOICE
This is the second group and the people who are under this umbrella believe that whatever leaves you with an option is not necessary. They agree that marriage is a very beautiful thing and one could use a life time companion, therefore to them, the idea of marriage is not an overrated one. However, they propose that no one should be made to marry out of pressure, because marriage is a commitment which has and demands to be taken very seriously and it is not written anywhere that marriage will surely take one to the heavenly kingdom. They say that marriage, no matter how appealing it is or maybe, possesses the power to make or mar an individual. To them, the issue of procreation is also an issue of choice, no matter how important it may seem. According to them, since the issue of marriage is one that comes with the options of getting married or staying unmarried, it is just one of those numerous and important choices one has to make in life and people should to be allowed to do so freely, without any pressure whatsoever.
3) NOT NECESSARY, HIGHLY OVERRATED
Those in this school of thought, think that marriage is not as necessary as people think or make it look, just one more overrated issue in our society.
They believe that marriage is not an achievement and therefore shouldn’t be seen as a criteria for respect. While, they do agree that procreation might be important, they also put forth that if one has the right resources, one can have kids and take good care of them without being married. They however also have their reservations on procreation as they pose the question, ‘if procreation is so important and really meant for everyone, why then are some people born barren’?
If you happen to run into a person in this category, you are very likely bound to hear something like, ‘Marriage is not for everyone and if it was for everyone, why do we have priests and nuns who have decided to dedicate their lives to serving God and mankind without getting involved with the opposite sex in any regard’?
They do not seem to understand the hype about marriage. They can’t stand the fact that society keeps going round and round about marriage when there are other important things to worry about as well. To them, marriage is so hyped by society that people now end up marrying to impress and avoid been shamed, resulting in a great loss of the essence of marriage and its true beauty.
Having put this together, I’d like to point out that no school of thought is entirely right or wrong because the ‘debate’ on marriage and its place in society is one that might never come to a conclusion and this work may not have done enough justice to it as it most likely might not have covered every possible opinion on marriage, which is why we’d really love you to have your say. So,if you haven’t been asked, let me ask you now, IS MARRIAGE AN OVERRATED NECESSITY?