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Marriage Practices Within Other Cultures Essay

3095 words - 13 pages

Marriage Practices within other Cultures

Jason Randall Thompson, Ph.D
October 14, 2013

Marriage Practices within other Cultures
Marriage is a fundamental cornerstone of human economic, social, and kinship networks Murdock (1949). Indeed, marriage as an elementary principle of human kinship systems has long been considered a central aspect of between group alliances Levi-Strauss (1949). The exchange of mates among kin groups and accompanying networks of economic exchange are widespread and arguably create the foundation of human social organization Chapais B (2008; 2010). However, considerable cultural variation around the world opens up the question of whether regulated ...view middle of the document...

Even though marital partners were selected by family members throughout much of history, the individuals getting married typically had to consent to the partnership (Browning, Green, & Witte, 2006). The most important component of this marital definition, which relates to the incongruence between beliefs and practices, is the emphasis on a lifelong and monogamous partnership. The belief that marriage should last forever and be sexually exclusive is both a historical and contemporary ideal; this premise has not changed over time (Browning et al., 2006; Johnson, Stanley, Glenn, Amato, Nock, & Markman, 2002; Treas and Giesen, 2000). However, the ability to uphold this ideal appears to have become more difficult across time. A primary reason for this difficulty is the current American focus on personal fulfillment as a basis for marriage (Coontz, 2005).
The principle purpose of marriage in the United States is love and satisfaction. In a recent study examining American newlyweds' reasons for marriage, 81 % indicated that their primary reason was love (Campbell & Wright, 2008). Other reasons included long-term stability (13%), religion (5%), to have children (3%), social pressure (2%), and legal (2%), and financial reasons (1%). Therefore, marriage is largely based on love and happiness, and to lesser extent, political, social, and economic motives (Coontz, 2005; Ingoldsby, 2002; Pinsof, 2002). In the past however, partners did not marry primarily for love. From the Colonial period through the mid- 1800s when the Industrial Revolution took place, the primary purpose of marriage in the U.S. was financial gain (Ingoldsby, 2002). Women were valued for their contributions to the husbands' business and for performing domestic tasks, including childrearing. They typically did not work outside the home, and were dependent on their husbands for financial security (Pinsof, 2002). Men were valued for their ability to provide financially for their families and benefited economically from marriage because they had a wife to perform domestic duties, which saved time and money. After the Industrial Revolution, and especially circa 1920 when the automobile became popular, individuals had more freedom to date and spend private time with prospective partners prior to marriage (Coontz; 2005; Ingoldsby, 2002). This resulted in greater premarital companionship and sexual activity; individuals began selecting marital partners for romantic love rather than financial gain (Cherlin, 2004). As Coontz (2005) noted in her historical analysis, the majority of Americans today enter marriage and remain married for personal reasons, which is one reason for the relative instability of marriage. Cherlin (2004) similarly commented that a shift in the purpose of marriage from institutional to personal altered its meaning and resulted in its deinstitutionalization. With personal reasons as the basis of marriage, individuals are more likely to commit infidelity or divorce...

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