Marriage is a union between two members, each of the opposite sex that has anticipation of lifetime partnership and producing an offspring publicly acknowledged and accepted. Some cultures allow different kinds of unions: the Shiite Muslims of Iran and Afghanistan consent to temporary marriages under certain situations and concubinage in societies such as Hebrews in the time of Solomon (Catholic Pastoral Edition, 1 Kings 11:1) and earlier civilizations of Chinese and Arabs. In addition, having a valid marriage need several conditions like consummation of the union and in some societies, having a child is necessary. (Bacon, 1970)
There are marriages that provide economic security or family contract in some societies such as those practiced in Hindu and Christian marriage that has marital agreements. Marriage relationship is publicly recognized in most societies and celibate individuals comprise only a small percentage of a certain population. Furthermore, celibacy is repugnant to many people and a form of polygyny, wherein a man deceased of a wife is forced to remarry while women childbearing age in some cultures should have a husband. For instance is the union of Ruth and Boaz, documented in the Bible (Ruth 4:9-11), Ruth being widowed and taken by her husband’s brother. (Bacon, 1970)
Types of Marriages
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There are many types of marriages but we classify the union by looking into the number of marriages allowed to one person. First is the Polyandry that happens most often in tribal societies. This type of marriage consummates a union between one woman and several husbands. Such examples are the Canadian Inuit, which later declined in the 20th century due to Christian conversion, and Spartans who were particularly practiced a form of adelphic polyandry (taking husbands that are all biologically related).
Polygyny, on the other hand, is more often occurring in Arab and Muslim communities. In Islam, mostly upper class and lower class families have this type of unions if the husband consistently gives equal support to all his wives. Ideally, marriages with four wives are accepted. Today, married couples practice a compromised marriage or permission from each other to have intimate affairs outside their marriage. Hence, the principle of marriage does not necessarily require emotional or sexual monogamy. (wikipedia.org, 2007)
The Christian stand on marriage is still monogamy. A “One woman man” relation is encouraged by Saint Augustine (354-439 AD) in his letter The Good of Marriage. According to him, polygamy "was lawful among the ancient fathers: whether it be lawful now also, I would not hastily pronounce.
For there is not now necessity of begetting children, as there then was, when, even when wives bear children, it was allowed, in order to a more numerous posterity, to marry other wives in addition, which now is certainly not lawful." (chapter 15, paragraph 17) His demonstrations against polygamy became popular and significant that in 534 AD, Roman Emperor Justinian subjected extramarital affairs unlawful that is now called the Justinian Code that became the foundation of European law for 1,000 years. (wikipedia.org, 2007)
In the Roman Catholic union, marriage is known as the sacrament of Matrimony. It is a vocation, meaning, a lifetime commitment to God and to each other. Its creation is a product of mutual consent between a man and a woman united in the intention of God; characterized by the fundamental qualities of unity and dissolubility; instructed to proliferation; to mutual help and to the discipline of instincts that original sin completed unruly; gifted with a sacred duty and declared by divine revelation. (Twombly, 1970)
The most significant element of the wedding ritual is the expression of agreement between both parties. This must happen in front of a priest and two witnesses. It begins with a brief instruction and refrain. In reply to the priest’s query, the couple separately profess their vows to one another where they join hands and swear, “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” Then, the priest announces them married. There will be exchange of rings, in symbol of fidelity and love for each other. The priest ends the ceremony with a blessing. The marriage should be under or followed by a Nuptial Mass where Biblical scriptures pertaining to marriage are read. (Twombly, 1970)
Divorce in the context of Christian marriage in order to remarry is never allowed by the Church. It is forbidden in the law and positive will of Christ. However, a decree of nullity could be issued if evidences prove of unlawful marriage, the union will then be declared annulled. (Twombly, 1970)
CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES ON MARRIAGE
Marriage for Christians is monogamous and lay in the path, which Jesus presented. For Christians, marriage is a vocation and in this case, it should be desired. Before getting married, preparations should be well reviewed by the candidate because of the belief in anticipating permanence. Marriage is a lifetime commitment and the deciding parties should have positive motives for seeking marriage. One positive motive is the Desire to Share Love. Significantly, the reason for marriage should be love. Every person wants to be loved and to love in order to be happy but this does not necessarily mean it could fulfill the entirety of a person.
The description of love is often broad but in the case of marriage, a mature and self-giving love is enough. Second is the Desire for Intimacy. This volition offers a companion of a lifetime. A companion that will accept, encourage and support them in all their undertakings. Lastly is the Desire to Build Family. Marriage does not only involve consummation but also of having a family. Having a family adds security to oneself and plays a part in a person‘s self-worth and self-respect. While there are positive motives, there are also negative causes for union. In having poor purposes to marriage, a chance of marriage survival is slim.
One negative intention is Premarital Pregnancy. The basis of marriage should be for love not of force. Having been pregnant because of premarital relations is not enough reason to get into marriage. The occurrence of premarital pregnancy much requires the parents’ responsibility to the sibling and perceives marriage as an option but not an obligation. Another negative thought is because of Disappointment. Some marriages are pursued just to escape unhappiness or insecurity from one’s family. This, nonetheless, will not bring happiness. Others enter married life for vengeance because of objection from parents. In the end, the consequence is miserable married life. Finally, some enter married life Out of Pity or Gratitude. Love cannot compensate debt-ridden cases; it is a form of gift that we willingly to give to a partner. (Colla, 1985)
A harmonious relationship within marriage is one factor in having a productive married life. Better chances are possible for couple who have the same stands on Religion, Socio-economic Status, Educational Background and Age. For religion, acceptance on person coming from other beliefs rather than theirs must first profess the same belief. A union between people of different religions is called mixed marriages. This in not advisable, however because a couple shares everything including their faith to God and a problem upon the religious education of their children might soon arise.
This does not mean a condemnation of such based on mixed marriages but certain complications could occur especially when both are dedicated to their beliefs. Second is compatibility in Socio-economic Status. In this area, couples with different socio-economic background also have different perception of the society. Cultural and racial influences coming from each background may affect the relationship in the end. Third is the educational background. When a married couple is different in terms of educational attainments, they will also have distinctive jobs that may gradually affect their quality time for each other. Diverse discussion regarding their separate careers may amount to dissimilar attitudes and values.
Eventually, the couple, having different interests, will have little things to share with one another. Age is also a factor to consider before getting into marriage. However, there is no ideal age for marriage. Too young may result to immature discussions and too old may differ in mentality. In summary, these factors are only guidelines that may help a couple in making things work out in their married life. Marriage is a lifetime commitment to one another and a growing love out of each other’s affection and care will result into a harmonious relationship. (Colla, 1985)
God’s creation of a man and woman reflect His wisdom, love and goodness. This creation of the opposite sexes represents God’s decree of balancing one another. The mutual encouragement of one another in accordance to love is God’s blessing to man. A married couple should carry out God’s plan together. To get closer as a couple, there are 10 important words to remember for them to have a congruent relationship. To begin with, couples should LISTEN to each other to understand each other. Listening means dropping one’s defenses in order to learn what your spouse is feeling or thinking about. Next is Faith. It simply denotes faith in God – to pray, read the Scripture and worship together.
Forgiveness is another that bonds partners. When forgiving your spouse, you let go of the hurt and the feeling of guilt, thus, you move on with the relationship. Another is initiation. Eventually, married couples get tired with each other neglecting thing that were usually accomplished together. Getting closer with one another requires couples to think more of their love and how to deepen their love. The ability to feel remorse is important in married life. Remorse is a positive deed that makes a husband or a wife to feel guilty about a wrong act, seek forgiveness and offer an apology. One more factor in strengthening love is Time.
A love that is nourished everyday will turn out to be a precious, deepened love. Praising or appreciating your spouse will increase his/her self-esteem bringing more effort in your relationship. In appreciating your spouse, you are generating self-value and security for him/her. Next is talk. Talking out problems before they get complicated will avoid bigger complications in the future. In all the listed factors, talking out a problem is seldom done because of time constraints and long distance relationships. Lastly is sense of humor. This adds life to a couple. A healthy couple laughs out problems that will eventually sting out negative elements in the relationship.
Common Marital Problems
In a certain relationship, there will come a time of frustration and coldness that may result to problems regarding your married life. This is true in all relationships because nothing is perfect. But the key to resolving different issues on marriage is to manage the problem. The most common problems on marriage are dissimilarity, misunderstandings and money problems. On the topic of dissimilarity, most couples have their differences which are natural. It is good for couples to share a common interest but there is nothing to lose even they have no similar interest. A solution to this problem is to take chances on his/her interests.
This will make him/her think that you really love him/her because of your efforts to like his/her hobby. Trying other activities that you may want to share with each other is also a good start. Furthermore, give time for each other to enjoy self-interests. In this way, respect will be exercised and it is not healthy seeing your spouse all the time. Another problem in marriage is misunderstandings. Again, this is a common problem. Having misunderstandings are easy to solve, which is to talk it over.
Never leave an issue, even if it is small, hanging around. Smaller issues are easier to mend than problems that have already crop-up. Empathy to one another’s feeling could also help. Lastly are money problems. This is common, most especially in couples who don’t have much of an income. In solving this matter, we always have to remember that money is just a thing. You can spend it and earn it, but once you lose a loved one, you may never bring him/her back again. (Sawant, 2005)
Marriage is a commitment to love, to grow with one another and to do God’s plans in accordance to his will. It is said that upon marriage, “two becomes one.” This is only accomplished through kindness and love; never by selfish and retaliation. (McCasland, 2002). However, like any relationship, marriage has trials and setbacks but these all amount to something in return – a bond tested through time resulting in a happier and deeper relationship. “Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”(1 Cor. 13:7) (Blackaby & Blackaby, 1998)
Bacon, E. & Twombly, N. (1970). Marriage. Collier’s Encyclopedia. (Vol. 15, pp. 445-448). Canada: Crowell-Collier Educational Corporation
Blackaby, H & Blackaby, R. (1998). Love Assumes The Best. Experiencing God Day-by-Day. 44.
Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition. Philippines: Claretian Publications, 2004.
Colla, L. (1985). Getting Ready For Marriage. The True Story of My Journey To God. Pp. 81-96. Philippines: Vera-Reyes, Inc.
McCasland, D.C. (2002). Counterpoint. Our Daily Bread, 9, February 10.
Parachin, V. (1998). Getting Closer as a Couple. Health and Home, 39(5), 34-35.
Pelt, N. (2001). What women really want?. Health and Home, 45(5), 12-15.
Sawant, S. (May 15, 2005) Three Common Problems in a Marriage. Retrieved October 9, 2007 from http://in.rediff.com/getahead/2005/may/19marriage.htm.
Types of Marriage. Retrieved October 8, 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_marriages
What The Bible Says About Sex And Marriage. Retrieved October 8, 2007 from http://www.broadcaster.org.uk/section2/transcript/marriage1.htm
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