The institution of marriage, or matrimony, can be defined as a socially acknowledged union or legally binding agreement between two individuals that recognizes them as partners in a relationship. Haviland, Prins, Walrath, and McBride (2012) define marriage as a socially endorsed union between two or more individuals that inaugurates specific privileges and responsibilities between the married couple, their offspring and immediate families. These privileges and responsibilities mostly comprise but are not restricted to conjugal rights, work, material possessions and the upbringing of children born out of the relationship.
Definition of Marriage
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Marriage is greatly determined by culture and religion. Culturally, the notion of the family unit is universal. Functionalists argue that it is essential for the fulfillment of six basic needs that are crucial for the continued existence of each society. These needs include economic production, the integration of children into the society, caring for the ill or aged, leisure activities, the satisfaction and fulfillment of sexual urges, and procreation (Belsky, 2012). To ensure that these needs are met, different cultures and societies have adopted different models of the family. Therefore, an individual is culturally expected to get married in order to participate in the satisfaction of these societal needs. Most religions denominations require relationships to be formalized before an individual can start his or her own family. Co-habiting and fornication is highly shunned. Religious couples will have to get married for their union to be accepted by their respective religious communities and societies. This paper seeks to explore the different forms of marriage in the contemporary society as well as describe its stages in general.
Different Forms of Marriage
Marriage is a globally recognized social union that has been part of the human culture since prehistoric times. Across the world, there are different types of marriages, which is attributed to the fact that the acceptance of a marriag is dependent on the diverse societies and cultures that are found worldwide and are governed by various principles and customs.
The most common form of marriage is monogamy; it is characterized by the religious or civil union of only two individuals for life. Polygamy is another type of marriage where one partner in a union, whether male or female, can have more than one wife or husband concurrently. According to Bekjarovska (2015), there are two types of polygamy, namely, polyandry and polygyny. Polyandry is a polygamous relationship where a woman has more than one husband. This type of marriage is not rare although it is commonly practiced in countries or regions where the population of females is higher than the male population. On the other hand, polygyny is a polygamous relationship whereby a man has more than one wife. This is the most common type of polygamy that is still observed by different cultures across the world, especially in Africa (Bekjarovska, 2015).
Another type of marriage that is practiced in some places, though being illegal in most countries, is polyamory. This type of marriage is characterized by both partners in a marriage having one or more partners. Polyamory is commonly practiced by individuals who are bi- sexual because it offers them the chance to freely express both sides of their sexuality in their relationships (Bekjarovska, 2015).
Besides, an arranged marriage is another form of union between two individuals. In this marriage, a spouse is chosen for and a person either by his or her parents, or a trained match maker. In some cases, a religious leader is tasked with the duty of selecting a spouse for an individual (Bekjarovska, 2015).
Strong and Cohen (2013) state that economic marriages refer to unions whereby one or both spouses stand the chance of benefitting financially from the relationship. Moreover, political marriages are meant to strengthen ties between two countries or political entities from different sides of the political divide.
Interracial marriage is a legally recognized relationship between spouses from different racial backgrounds. Therre also exists a common law marriage where individuals are married on a contract basis; this form of marriage is also known as cohabiting.
I believe that the correct form of marriage is a monogamous relationship between individuals of the opposite sex. This is because this type of relationship fulfills the laid down cultures that will ensure the sustainability of the society through the relationship between husband and wife arising from the unity of two families, as well as through the procreation of children. This will also be in line with my Christian religious beliefs where one is required to ensure the continuity of the human race by entering into a religious marriage with a member of the opposite sex.
Stages of Marriage
Marriage is not static: it is a relationship that is constantly evolving being a continuous learning process. Spouses are involved in the process of discovering each other anew and are faced with the challenge of adapting, compromising and discovering methods to ensure that their marriage will stand the test of time. The tribulations that an individual will undergo in a marriage will be reflected in the stages of marriage. According to Shah (2015), these stages include passion, realization, rebellion, co-operation, reunion, explosion, and completion. I believe that these stages are inevitable because they are characteristic of all healthy relationships, whether romantic or platonic, that individuals will undergo during their lifetime. No emotion including love is constant, therefore, as in the case of marriage, their relationships, personalities and behavior will change constantly. The alterations in the human psyche in terms of the human developmental stages, which affect temperament, personality and actions, make the stages of marriage inevitable.
With the passing years, couples experience many changes and events that have an impact on them and on the essence of their marriages. Therefore, alterations in the human psyche that they undergo over the years assist them to comprehend every single phase in order to help them safeguard a wholesome and long-term relationship (Shah, 2015).
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