Marriage a most unnatural state of affairs?

(158 Posts)
MiniTheMinx Fri 06-Jul-12 22:03:41

The monogamous family seems to me to uphold patriarchy better than any other institution. Men have for thousands of years sought to control women's reproduction as a means of controlling wealth. The most obvious way in which they have done this is through marriage.

Having read quite a lot and of course experiencing first hand the joys and the lows of monogamy, with all the emotional fall out, the sense of ownership but also support, the security but also the boredom! (at times) I question just how natural monogamy is.

Women are brought up to believe in fairy tale endings, white weddings and happy retirements, men, meanwhile we are told are naturally less inclined towards faithfulness. Their behaviour proof of biology, our faithfulness and commitment is likewise biologically driven.

I don't believe biology drives our desire for monogamous relationships and think this a materialist social construct which can be accounted for by the study of our material and economic history.

www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2011/04/feminism_and_re_1

www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/origin-family/ch02d.htm

jezebel.com/5339211/is-non+monogamy-a-feminist-relationship-choice

I am interested in hearing what others of you think, is marriage and monogamy an unnatural state of affairs?

EclecticShock Tue 10-Jul-12 19:52:42

Agree with your post himalaya.

kickassangel Wed 11-Jul-12 15:47:11

I would like to see some kind of 'contract' as an option instead of marriage.

I think that the moment there is a child, then there should be a contract which comes into effect and holds both parents responsible for the upbringing of that child. Of course, to enforce that, then there would have to be a whole load of bureaucracy. But the concept that becoming a parent brings automatic responsibility is one that I would like to see more firmly enforced. I think too many people don't step up to that enough.

Then adults can choose to make thier own contracts if they wish. e.g. a couple may decide on a 5 year contract when a child is born, so that they both support the child through the early years. They may have a life-long one, or none at all.
BUT any contract/agreement would have been written in how the relationship will be separated at the end.

It would then mean that the law would be pro-active, looking at how best to protect the children, and the parents that care for them. At the moment it is reactive, and only steps in once people are at a stage where they find co-operating extremely difficult. It would also be so much easier to makes decision if you knew what would happen upon separation, particularly regarding the issue of SAHP.

I'd hope that people would also see that moving in with someone, or having a child with them, if they refuse to even a basic contract, would be a big red flag, but I'm sure there would still be some who say 'they love me, I don't need a contract'.

summerflower Thu 12-Jul-12 13:52:50

Did factories used to pay for schooling of the workers?

I'm not sure they did, Mini, I think they provided schooling for children who were in the labour force, but I am happy to be contradicted on that. It's a good question.

Apart from that, the whole topic of marriage depresses me so much, I'm staying out of it. I'm married, I don't wear a wedding band, I don't live with OH, I don't think of myself as a wife, I feel like the whole thing tries to shoe-horn me and our relationship into a socially sanctioned box, which I do my best to negotiate.

kickassangel Thu 12-Jul-12 14:19:55

some of the big factory owners paid for education and housing etc. examples being rowntrees, Terry's and Cadbury. The Calvinsitic belief system was that the owners could enjoy their wealth a certain amount, but not too much. So they provided 'model villages' for employees, with churches and houses, the stores were owned by the Company (The Company Store) which set the prices, and education was provided for children. By the 1850s education was legally required for young children, and throughout the later 1800s the age of education kept rising.

There is still a village outside York where there are no pubs as the Rowntree foundation set it up and forbade any alcohol. I think that Bourbon may be like this as well. <channelling 'A' Level history from nearly 30 years ago>

Anyway - my problem with marriage is that it's so all or nothing. Either you aren't married, so there are very few legal protections for vulnerable partners, or you are and it's for life.

I'd like to see it be possible to move in with someone, with the idea that you're committing for 2 years (or whatever), then you can commit further or split up, but with agreed ways to resolve the situation. IF people want a life-long contract they can do that, have it blessed by the church and have a big party as well, but I think it would be good if even then, the couple have had to go through a process to discuss 'what if' about a split. Or a couple could commit to co-raising children without having to agree to live together and do the whole 'nuclear family' thing.

I think it's really easy when you're in love to be willing to give your life to the idea of happy ever after. Perhaps if people were forced to talk through what happens if/when you split up, they would be more aware of any differences in their expectations of what commitment means. How many SAHM think that they're being respected for the work they put into the family, only to find that the dad doesn't intend to provide good support when they divorce, and never did? IF you have to talk through child maintenance and how much the role of 'housekeeper/mother/childcare' etc is, it could (hopefully) make people know what they're getting into.

bigroundbump Sun 15-Jul-12 21:51:22

Wow feeling some pretty big 'issues' in this thread. As a happily married non-religious woman (who would certainly describe myself as a feminist) I find it a bit odd when friends say they"don't believe in marriage". Firstly what's to believe? Marriage is real and people make the decision to do it or not. I would never say "I don't believe in living together \ being single" as it would sound narrow minded and offensive.

Why do people get so worked up about what other people choose (to have kids / not to have kids. To breastfeed / not to breastfeed. To get married / not get married)

Surely we should be concerned for people's happiness (male and female), weather that is living alone, with a partner, in a commune, with kids, without kids married or not married - it is our own free choice.

If you don't want to live with a partner who refuses to take on domestic chores / share childcare responsibility or make you feel supported in life then don't. It's not the 'being married' that's the issue its the person making you feel bad that you need to deal with.

TeiTetua Wed 18-Jul-12 13:58:23

I think the great chocolate barons were Quakers rather than Calvinists. They felt that they owed more than a wage to the people who created their wealth. It seems pitifully little by modern standards, but compared to (say) coal miners, the Cadbury workers were fortunate.

Surely anyone can sign a contract with anyone to do whatever they agree on, as long as it's legal? So a 2-year agreement to live together on some terms or other would be perfectly OK, and ultimately the courts would deal with it if things broke down--and if events worked out as planned, it would stay a private matter between the two people.

mummytime Wed 18-Jul-12 14:21:08

Part of the reason they made chocolate was as an alternative to the demon drink. Bourneville indeed used to have no pubs (and at least 20 years ago only 1 bar).

FoodUnit Thu 30-Aug-12 09:43:47

As humans we are really adaptable and monogamy/nuclear family seems to be the best model where resources are scarce and wide territories need to be covered to reach those resources like the Steppes or Arctic circle. I suppose in larger groups with lots of cooperation its probably shared group childcare where various liaisons of different duration go on - 'falling in and out of love'. I think sexual jealousy is pretty natural too, so I'm sure its natural to negotiate or fake exclusivity for the sake of social stability where individuals experience high levels of jealousy. But there are also going to be lots of cases in these cooperative groups where people 'aren't bothered' because they don't invest much into their sexual affairs. And being single 'not being into the game' is probably natural too- especially for women who have had a baby and feel fulfilled by this. IMO

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