Social Question

mazingerz88's avatar

Would we still have our societies today if the institution of marriage did not exist?

Asked by mazingerz88 (18480 points ) August 17th, 2012

How important is having people marrying, raising kids etc. in creating, maintaining and advancing civilization? Would our societies eventually perish if we have less and less wedding rituals and cakes?

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14 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

The wedding day ritual could disappear and not affect day to day life except for those in the business.

But it’s a matter of keeping mates together as much as possible to raise kids. I know that sounds naive or something, but even in our times with 50% divorce rates, kids do better with two parents, because two parents help share the workload and allow more parental interaction with the children.

Coloma's avatar

Well, institutions historically fail, and, obviously, the institution of marriage is no exception.
I agree with @zenvelo that optimally, twp people can afford more time, money and attention to offspring, but other than this, I feel marriage to one person for a lifetime proves unrealistic for the vast majority. People used to be dead within a year or two of their youngest child leaving home, now most couples will have decades together after the nest has been emptied and usually, they will not have enough in common anymore to sustain a truly fulfilling relationship.

The institution of marriage was founded primarily on the patriarchal need to secure biological offspring and not to have to worry about raising the offspring of indiscriminate matings of the female. It’s impossible to say how our society would be without the addition of marriage.
Possibly a Kibbutz type arrangement where the entire village raises the child, as the saying goes. lol

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I was considering how it would affect society and various businesses and how things would change and I didn’t think it would end civilization until I realized what a plague it would unleash on us. What are all those divorce attorneys going to do?

syz's avatar

Um, two people can cohabitate, have committed monogamous relationships, and raise families without being married. Happens all the time. The only real effect I can imagine would be for the wedding industry (dresses, caterers, photographers, etc).

wundayatta's avatar

Of course we would. Perhaps there would be greater freedom to have other modes of families. We might have more than two parents in a family, as they do in many other societies around the world. We also might have longer lasting relationships, if people did not expect that their love relationship had to be the same as their parenting relationship. All kinds of things could be different.

Different is not necessarily better, but experimentation, even when it fails, is good, overall, for society (if not for the individuals). If we were freer to experiment without having to deal with so much social disapproval, relationships might well be stronger. Even marriages might be stronger. Perhaps only those who could actually stick it out would get married.

But this is all hypothetical and anyone can say anything and no one can prove anything. Nice thought experiment, though.

Bill1939's avatar

While the attractive force that frequently results in conception draws two people together, it is not what will be the force that binds a relationship. Those who have difficulty surrendering some of their control over their lives to the constraints of a union, especially a union that includes children, will find that civil and ecclesiastical approval does not attenuate their angst’ intensity.

flutherother's avatar

Yes, because marriage is just a formalisation of biological realities. It is sex that creates children and sex that keeps couples together while children are raised. Marriage just says yes, that’s the way it is.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Are there societies that are based upon marriage? If so, please let me know.

From what I have witnessed, it is all about personal preference and beliefs. There are many people who do a spot on job of bringing up their children as a single parent. There are those that are married that fail at being a parent and a positive influence on society. Sometimes their children rise above it, and sometimes they don’t.

Society won’t decline with less marriages or civil ceremonies. Those that currently rely on the industry today will either fail or seek out other venues for supporting their product/service. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t that one of the basic rules of economics?

Thammuz's avatar

Would we have it the same exact way? Perhaps not.

Would we still be here? We were here before marriage was introduced, why wouldn’t we be here after it were gone?

The greek used marriage as a means to an end to propagate society, but didn’t consider it an emotional bond as much as their bond with their same-sex comrades and occasional partners.

The romans were very similar, and didn’t even consider hetero/homo a dychotomy. Rather, they considered sexuality to be divided in active/passive (which, let’s face it, makes a damn lot more sense. I am not attracted to every woman, and i can be damn sure nobody is attracted to all men. So what’s the point of specifying the odds?).

In short, maybe we wouldn’t have society exactly as we have it today, my money is on a much less neurotic society, but, all in all, it would ultimately be pretty much the same. Afterall, some things don’t change just because you’re allowed to fuck around, and raising your own spawn is a biological imperative.

freesoft's avatar

I think the importance of marriage is based on what society you are considering. I come from a south asian background and so to my mother/female relatives, the idea of marriage is the cornerstone of family life. In that kind of society, an unmarried union is considered quite sacrilegious and illegitimate children will be treated quite harshly. Furthermore, the idea of divorce is quite tabou. Thus, for people ingrained with these beliefs, a society without marriages would seem implausible.

Personally, I grew up in north america so to me I believe in living your own life as you see fit (if you want to marry someone so be it otherwise its your own prerogative). So from the contrast in beliefs, I think with or without marriages, societies will evolve based on how people decide to live their lives. Civilization as a whole won’t perish from a lack of marriages, it will simply evolve.

YARNLADY's avatar

People develop all kinds of ceremonies to celebrate happy occasions. I don’t believe this would change.

Marriage as a life time commitment is already non-existent in the U.S., so that wouldn’t change.

I would like to see family units formed by legal contract rather than religious dogma for the legal protection of all.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Your question begs a different question:

When we get married, does that mean we should be institutionalized?

Paradox25's avatar

Well humans kept reproducing well before the concept of marriage even existed, so I would say yes. It’s the sex drive, not the rituals or religions that determines this.

Bill1939's avatar

;-) “Being married provides an excuse to politely reject the advances of another.”

The institution of marriage is about control. Progenitors prefer to determine when their offspring would be one of them and with whom. Potentates, religious and secular, also enjoy the exercise of power that being the approving authority provides. It once was about ownership, the male in most societies being the sole owner of property that included their wives and children. We may, however, be witnessing the emergence of novel models of human relationships (which likely has existed since pre civilization), ones that are more attuned to the needs of the individuals involved than with traditional proscriptions concerning unions.

Society is the triumvirate of Family, God and Country, each claiming authority over the will of the individual. While not all successful unions were sanction by heavenly and/or earthly law, and some so sanctioned failed, the need for a community to provide a stable environment for child rearing will keep the practice of marriage ongoing for generations.

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