What does marriage mean today?(2 Posts)
I've just finished Daniel Deronda which like other works of George Eliot discusses the role of marriage in women's lives and how the patriarchy controls them.
So much of what I read about marriage in the 21st c. suggests that the definition of marriage has moved on from 150 years ago and marriage had been redefined to be about equality and love rather than establishing social order, the patriarchy and maintaining status. Yet despite this, so many of the relationships in this book - marriages motivated by inheritance, increased status or "the need to rescue another" - still ring true today.
Is there more to the modern conceptualisation of marriage than recognising the right of love an equality?
In my case, my husband and I are from different countries and one of the motives for us marrying was that we would have the security of knowing we could continue to live together. However, I feel the modern definition of love and equality, cheapens the motive of security i.e. ours isn't a real marriage in some people's eyes as it could be seen as a visa marriage.
Is marriage still an instrument of the patriarchy? Our people actually less honest about the reasons they get married these days than 150 years ago?
Yes, I do believe people are less honest about the reasons the get married nowadays. I do think love is the most common reason why people get married, but a lot of couples get married for other reasons, not love, but would rarely admit it. Among these, the most frequent one is probably emotional security. I know quite a few couples who I'd say (of course, I don't know for sure) got married because they wanted the safety of a stable relationship, and not because they were deeply madly in love with each other. I know other people who got married mainly because they wanted to start a family, or already had kids. I only know of one couple who openly admitted they were getting married because of their status: both in top jobs, from wealthy families. Showing me pictures of their new flat, she said, "look at all we've got - look at how good we do each other. This is why we're getting married, we're going to be very happy." But I assume it must have been what at least one other friend of mine thought, though she would never admit it.
As for equality, I'd say modern marriage (in the UK and a lot of other Western countries) is nearly always about equality, whatever the reasons that made people get married in the first place, but it's not always about love.
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