In the words of Aristotle, the legendary Greek philosopher “Man is by nature a social animal. An individual who is unsocial naturally, and not accidentally, is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual.”

To build this social network, several communities, groups, and subgroups are formed based on matrimony, childbearing, and trade— all of which are closely linked to each other. Marriage is one of the most prevalent and probable conventions that spans a multitude of continents, and all religious, cultural, as well as geographical differences. According to historian Margaret Hunt, the concept of marriage was created to transfer and exchange across generations the following major things:

  1. Property, livestock, money and tools
  2. Women
  3. Occupational or social status, and personal contacts

    Wedding Traditions in Ancient Israel

The English word “husband,” has old-Norse origins and roots in agriculture, roughly translating to “someone who owns and tills the land.” The woman, being a part of his property, came under his “husbandry.”

However, that was centuries, if not millennia ago. The complexity of human relationships is never simple to follow; it is like intricate lacework and keeps evolving greatly. If you ask someone today what their idea of marriage is, it is often linked to love and companionship. People are gradually beginning to accept the value of individualism, hence making the promotion of career development, self-love, social life, travel, and inculcation of hobbies immensely significant. Due to globalisation and the rise of social media, people are getting familiarized with newer, more progressive Western concepts, hence increasing the societal acceptance of dating, cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, and single parenting. Marriage is not a pre-requisite to a fulfilling life or acceptance in society anymore.

An interesting analysis of marriages has led to a seemingly unrelated revelation— the concept of a 40-hour workweek is severely outdated, and is also considered the “burden of capitalism.” It was designed on the basic assumption of a rather dated, nuclear-family-model consisting of an earning husband, and an economically-dependent wife taking care of the household. However, with time, the cost of living has gone up rather swiftly and combined with women being encouraged to be financially independent, the workforce has had an influx of women in paid jobs as opposed to exclusive unpaid domestic labour.

Around the world, professional and personal work combined cause stress as women spend two to ten times more time on domiciliary care than men, leading to a disruption in the division of work and responsibilities in the marriage. To adapt to this change, modern families being more diversely accommodative in their organisation and structure is the need of the hour, which is in stark contrast with the gendered distribution of responsibilities.

Marriage is beneficial for the industrial workforce and companies since it produces not just new workers, but consumers as well. However, it makes it severely difficult for workers with families to support to withdraw their labour as it is largely dependent on the unpaid work of women who cannot provide for the family alone. Severe other factors such as workplace discrimination and the wage gap also come into play.

The cost of living, especially the cost of housing in the big cities, is a serious obstacle to marriage, as well as kids. Millennials are finding it immensely difficult, if not straight-up impossible to include family planning in their top goals due to increasing debt and inaccessible healthcare.

It is argued that married women who stay at home are exploited by the capitalist class because they produce and bring up the future labour force— often receiving domestic abuse instead of wages. In Marriage and Morals (1929), the philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote that “marriage is for women the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.”

This happens at the expense of the community and the quality of marriages, leading to more fights regarding the distribution of household and financial responsibilities.

More rights and financial independence for women result in minimal co-dependency and the unwillingness to deal with abuse, making divorce cases more common. Progressive ideas on religion, caste, etc., have also reduced the link between marriage and social status to a great extent.

Three-quarters of divorces are initiated by women, which has led to a decline in the stable married-family in recent years with an average of one divorce approximately every 36 seconds.

The legalization of same-sex marriages in many countries and the rise in non-monogamy is also something new that has been introduced very recently, and people are gradually getting more comfortable with it.

In India, and several third world countries, however, it is much slower, more stigmatized, and localized to just metro cities which is why their divorce rates are one of the lowest in the world.

This leads us to an obvious conclusion and prediction that marriages are not sustainable for a lot of people and will not be as common in the coming years. To say that this is a strictly positive phenomenon, however, would be a great disservice to critical thinking and analysis. Due to increasing loneliness and isolation, there has been an upward trend in mental health issues. In a society that stresses the importance of romantic relationships, already existing issues a person may have such as hyper-independence, mental illness, and past traumas can resurface. This happens due to a lack of support from friends and other family members as they become less available while focusing on their nuclear families first.

This gradual shift of our societies from absolute collectivism to individualism is intriguing, to say the least. As with any question about extremes of ideology, it is the dynamic interaction of the two forces around a midpoint that creates the strongest and most adaptable of human societies.

Written by- Ria Shridher


  1. Naman Naswa Reply

    This is true , even thought our society has grown and progressed , it still has a long way to go

  2. Excellent view point….
    Agreed society has a long way to go…

  3. Sanjeev Setia Reply

    Commendable insight on the way society got transformed.
    Value of individualism did play a role…

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