Ever thought about what the world would be without marriage?
Wait a minute.
Silly me. I thought this would be a thought experiment.
We’re already doing this. Women are empowered, Men are “depowered,” and the implications clear.
Women and men get married later in life, and those marriages last fewer years. Regardless of marital status, couples are having fewer children.
Marriage is no longer standard, it’s an option.
That’s too bad. Because way back when, in the days before primates climbed trees, families had begun taking care of their young even after they’d left the egg.
Primates came along, and the young stayed young even longer. Mom stayed with her child for many years. That Mom and that child would even identify each other, even when that child was an adult.
The primate Dad was a different story. He was probably the alpha male. He probably was the father of that child, because he would have killed the child of another male. And Mom? She was only one of many other wives. That’s how alpha male societies work.
There are downsides. For one thing, if a new alpha male comes along, then he also has access to all the old wives. One of the first things he’ll do is get rid of all the other young males. If you’re a mom, you don’t like that.
So there’s a push among moms to have one husband. That’s where pair bonding comes in, another great invention.
But for males that like to be social, that can be a problem. Social males like to have many friends. And if those friends are female, what of it? And if that female is feeling lonely and wants to snuggle, just a little, what’s wrong with that? And if snuggling leads to something else, well, it’s all natural.
That’s where marriage comes in. It’s a tool used by society to help lock down that male to that female. It helps keep that one family together. It’s a formal recognition of a pair bond and all the advantages it brings.
One straying married male can result in two failed families.
Did women invent marriage? Perhaps. But it’s unlikely that it would have become a social institution if men didn’t also see its advantages. If you’re happily married, you know what those are.
Was it always religious? No. It certainly goes much further back.
Here’s the best part. It’s a tool. It’s a device we use to make life easier. Instead of looking at it romantically, we should start to understand it as a tool.
Perhaps that will make all our lives easier.
It certainly will make the conversation more lively at the marriage counselor’s.