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Marriage: past, present, future Marriage: past, present, future
by Joseph Gatt
2019-08-18 08:45:49
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Marriage in the distant past, present and future.

Marriage in the distant past

Marriage in the distant past was often made by matchmakers, either in formal or informal ways. In some villages formal matchmakers were men or women, often older women, who knew pretty much everyone who lived in the village. It was either parents who would visit the matchmakers asking them to find a match for their son, in some cases their daughter. In other cases, the matchmaker would pair up couples without consulting the parents, and were trusted.

marriag01_400Formal matchmaking varied greatly from culture to culture, and would make a great book that few people would read. In some cultures astrology was heavily relied upon, in other cultures facial and physical features were relied upon, in other cultures “name-matching” was the norm, that is names were believed to have cosmic features and you would pair up an Abraham with a Sarah or a Jacob with a Rachel or a Mohamed with a Khadidja. In some cases geomancy was used, where all people living 5 houses from each other would be paired up. In other cases it was economic factors, where the children of merchants would be matched up. In some cases, the beautiful women would be paired up with the rich men. And so on.

In informal matchmaking, there was no village matchmaker. In some cases, village women (or in some cases men) would gather together and gossip about the village, and try to see who fits in with whom. In other cases, matchmaking was done on an individual basis, and it was the parents who would look for a match for their children. Sometimes parents would go around houses “interviewing” parents who had daughters (or sons) while in other cases parents would discreetly look around, and when they thought they found a good match, they would visit the place to ask for the daughter (or son).

Either way, marriage was an important affair in most villages. In some places, in Swaziland to this day, there are parades and festival where women walk bare-breasted to catch the attention of village men, hoping that they will be chosen by a good man. In other places men and women would drop subtle hints that they were looking for a match, as in hanging peppers in the backyard, or hanging clothes in the backyard, or showering publicly in the backyard almost daily.

This does not mean that love did not exist. Love marriages were very rare, almost impossible. In some cultures unfortunately men and women could be punished, in some cases executed, for falling in love. But women who fell in love often delivered food to the house of the man they were in love with, hoping that would catch the man's attention and they could eventually marry, and in some cases this was successful. In other cases men would find all sorts of excuses to visit the house of the woman they were in love with, using ruses such as “I'm going out of town next week for a festival and I've been asked to bring as many people as I can with me, so will you come with me” to the girl's brother or cousin or father, and asking repeatedly if they will come. Other ruses included holding a party at home and invited several people, including the love interest.

Homosexuality existed and was more or less repressed depending on the culture. Homosexuals, gays and lesbians, had all kinds of ways to hint at their sexual orientation, including by growing their hair a little longer than usual, wearing “effeminate shoes” for gays or “masculine shoes” for lesbians, or lesbians cutting their hair shorter than usual. Homosexual love tended to be platonic, at times, when circumstances allowed, could have sexuality elements in them. But there was no such thing as homosexual marriage, although gay and lesbian couples existed, and tended to find excuses to live together, such as by plowing the same fields or by trying to get a job that would involve sharing a room or a house.

Now problem with a lot of marriages until the mid-20th century was that the only valid reason to divorce a woman was if the woman was getting hysterical. Hysterical women were the main cause of divorce. Abusive men could not be divorced, nor could you divorce a man who behaved recklessly. Most couples did not engage in conversation, but relied on third parties for conversation. In some cases fathers would tell the children to tell the mother, or mothers would tell the brother to tell the husband and that's how communication worked in many cases. This tactic often filtered out physical and verbal abuse.

Unfortunately men sometimes died young and women sometimes died young. Widows were not allowed to marry in a lot of cultures, but were highly coveted as they lost their virginity. Since in some cases widows had no source of income as their husband was gone, some widows resorted to prostitution, by masking their prostitution business as a “knitting business” where men would come to have their “shirts fixed.”

Marriage today

Since the 1950s, many things have evolved. Contraception is widely available, housing units have become smaller and more independent, adults tend to be “emancipated” from their families, “being in love” is no longer something you can get punished or killed for, and economic opportunities have become better than in any century.

Now there are several tendencies which I will touch upon briefly. First tendency is what I'll call “sexual experimentation.” That is, with the advent of contraception, and the normalization of pre-marital sex (pre-marital sex was illegal in many territories, including many states in the United States) now both men and women want to explore their sexuality to the fullest in some cases. This means a lot of men and women multiplying sex partners, trying to bang “a blond” “a brunette” and a “red hair” and of course “a huge ass” and a “tiny ass” and “a big one” and “a thick one” just to see what it feels like.

Of course not everyone fits into that category, there are still a few conservative people out there, some of them would be so shocked by this article they've stopped reading it. I am conservative, but I do what I call “descriptive work” which is to describe the realities on the ground.

So first tendency is a lot of “hook ups” that involve sex and little else. Anthropologists are a little confused by this, some claim that perhaps men are comfortable with that and that women play along, when women are really seeking a stable partner and hope that sex will lead to the relationship to stabilize.

I disagree with those anthropologists simply because there are many cases where men hook up with a woman, sleep with the woman, fall in love with the woman and the woman leaves them anyway.

So in many cases hook ups are the new matchmakers. Now the other tendency is that sex, love and marriage in many of today's societies are often very different, separate categories. Sex does not always lead to love and love does not always lead to marriage.

Another huge factor is the media factor. Men browse the internet for pictures of “the sexiest men alive” and try to analyze and imitate what those men do. Bieber has sleeve tattoos, I'll get a sleeve tattoo. Depp has a goatee, I'll get a goatee. Pharrell Williams wears a hat and a white shirt, I'll wear a hat and a white shirt. Beckham has a tattoo on his neck, I'll get one. Beyoncé has braids, I'll get braids. Rihanna has a tattoo on her neck, so I'll get one. And so on and so forth.

Now the problem with sex, love and marriage being separate categories, they are unfortunately often vague categories. Some women (or men) want love, but get thrown away after sex. Some women (or men) want marriage when their partners views the partnership as purely sexual.

And things evolve very fast. Now as a kid who grew up in the 1990s, when a girl was in love with you (with me, with us) we'd usually try to hide from them. But in the 2020s, if a girl loves a guy the guy goes like “hmmm I could use her for sex.” So women's magazines are full of stories of how to spot men who just want the sex as opposed to men who really love you, advice like “are they asking you questions about your family” and “are they making future plans with you” and so forth.

The other big problem in the 21st century is its taboo in a lot of cases to try to define the relationship. That is there is social pressure on couples not to discuss whether the nature of the relationship is “purely sexual” or whether it is “passionate love” or whether “marriage” is involved.

Final couple of notes. First, love still exists, and many couples are in love. Many couples are still getting married because they are in love. But unlike the past where abuse was tolerate and hysteria was not, in today's world, abuse is the main cause of divorce. Abuse comes in several forms, and is usually categorized in three categories: emotional neglect (the man or woman is absent from the house, or is present but shows no emotions, and emotional neglect can be aggravated by cheating) or verbal abuse (the man or woman are verbally very violent, but don't get physical) or physical abuse (man or woman gets physically abusive). Now people tend to forget about emotional neglect, and tend to see no problem with that, but emotional neglect can be problematic if you top that off with financial or work-related difficulties.

Second note. Half the world's couples stay married their entire life. We often focus on the other half that ends up divorcing, plus high profile divorces in the media make us wonder if it isn't pretty much everyone who is getting divorced. Half the couples remain married. What's their secret? The recipe is fairly simple. No emotional neglect (they remain emotionally attached their entire life) no verbal abuse (they talk to each other politely and argue with each other politely) and no physical abuse. Simple.

The future of relationships

I'm not a fortune teller. But seeing where this is heading, the media (the internet) is increasingly playing a big role. Many men and women want to explore their sexuality to the fullest, and want to “try everything” before they “get married.”

Children are becoming emancipated before they are even adults. Now in my time, we were emancipated, we just didn't have the money. I could do what I wanted, so could my friends, but we were just broke. Today parents are giving their children vast sums of money, and pocket money figures have gone way up in many cultures. Some parents even give “salaries” to their children. “Good grades” are no longer a pre-condition for “salaries.”

Children are also getting vast sums of money as gifts from their grand-mothers or uncles or parents in some cases, including “1,000 bucks for your birthday.” Some children “save the money for college” while others do reckless things with it.

The other trend is delayed marriage, and in some cases reckless marriage. A lot of actions are becoming increasingly impulsive, be it shopping, eating, and of course marriage.

Third and final thing. More people are “secretly” getting married and don't even tell their parents they got married. While others “secretly divorce” and don't even tell their family that they are getting a divorce. Finally, in this era of modern transportation, more and more husbands and wives, often out of impulse, “move to the West coast” that is disappear from the household without even informing their partner. When that happened in the 1990s, people put “missing signs” everywhere. When that happens today, people go like “yea been there done that.” Then six months later you'll get a Facebook message from a “deleted account” saying “sorry I left you.” and in some cases not even that.

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