Blissfully Informed Hippie Chick

Encouraging people to think critically about everything.

The History of Marriage

on June 27, 2015

In light of the decision by the Supreme Court yesterday to prevent states from making laws that prevent same sex marriage, I thought I’d take the time to outline the history of marriage, since it’s come to my attention via Facebook that a lot of people don’t have any idea what that history entails. Here’s some facts you might not know. This should end your desire to practice marriage in a “traditional” way.

1. Most marriages were originally arranged marriages. If you want to talk about getting back to the original form of marriage, get ready for your parents to decide whom to marry you off to (and probably as soon as you hit puberty).

In some cultures, parents even married one child to the spirit of a deceased child in order to strengthen familial bonds,

2. Did I mention that your arranged spouse will likely be your cousin?

In fact, Rutgers anthropologist Robin Fox has estimated that the majority of all marriages throughout history were between first and second cousins.

3. Don’t be surprised if you’re a woman and your husband decides to marry another woman. Yes, even if he believes in the Hebrew God.

From Jacob, to Kings David and Solomon, Biblical men often had anywhere from two to thousands of wives.

(Don’t forget their thousands of concubines!)

Monogamy became the guiding principle for Western marriages sometime between the sixth and the ninth centuries,

4. You better be really good at making babies, or your husband will probably dump you. Or just take on a new wife.

In many early cultures, men could dissolve a marriage or take another wife if a woman was infertile.

5. You have no room to complain if your husband decides to have sex with as many other women as he wants.

Though marriage was legally or sacramentally recognized between just one man and one woman, until the 19th century, men had wide latitude to engage in extramarital affairs,

6. Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty. You think the church established marriage? Or God? Think again. The vast majority of marriages had nothing to do with religion until 1215.

Marriages in the West were originally contracts between the families of two partners, with the Catholic Church and the state staying out of it. In 1215, the Catholic Church decreed that partners had to publicly post banns, or notices of an impending marriage in a local parish, to cut down on the frequency of invalid marriages (the Church eliminated that requirement in the 1980s).

7. Marriage licenses are a very new concept, in relation to marriage’s long history.

Massachusetts began requiring marriage licenses in 1639, and by the 19th-century marriage licenses were common in the United States.

8. Forget about love or sexual desire if you want a traditional marriage!

…mutual attraction in marriage wasn’t important until about a century ago. In fact, in Victorian England, many held that women didn’t have strong sexual urges at all,…

9. If you think men and women should have equal rights, then you definitely don’t want a traditional marriage.

Still, marriage wasn’t about equality until about 50 years ago. At that time, women and men had unique rights and responsibilities within marriage. For instance, in the United States, marital rape was legal in many states until the 1970s, and women often could not open credit cards in their own names, Coontz said. Women were entitled to support from their husbands, but didn’t have the right to decide on the distribution of community property. And if a wife was injured or killed, a man could sue the responsible party for depriving him of “services around the home,” whereas women didn’t have the same option, Coontz said.

A husband not being legally allowed to cheat on, beat, or rape his wife (or wives) is an extremely new concept, historically speaking. Do you really still want a traditional marriage?

By about 50 years ago, the notion that men and women had identical obligations within marriage began to take root. Instead of being about unique, gender-based roles, most partners conceived of their unions in terms of flexible divisions of labor, companionship, and mutual sexual attraction.

“One of the reasons for the stunningly rapid increase in acceptance of same sex marriage is because heterosexuals have completely changed their notion of what marriage is between a man and a woman,” Coontz said. “We now believe it is based on love, mutual sexual attraction, equality and a flexible division of labor.”

In conclusion, if what you want is one man and one woman, with equal rights, united in a marriage endorsed by the church, you do not stand for traditional marriage! You stand for a notion conceived of via modern-day ideals with a conservative Christian twist by church leaders and politicians. In that case, go ahead and believe what you want about marriage and act accordingly. But don’t force those beliefs on me or anyone else while screaming “I want marriage to be Biblical!” Because you don’t, not really.

(All quotes are from



2 responses to “The History of Marriage

  1. YepThatSarah says:

    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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