For numerous millennial's, the idea of one day getting married is a key proponent in their ideal future. The idea is that they will find that one person they love beyond all measures, whom they can imagine spending the rest of their lives with. But did you know the origin of marriage – and it's designated purpose – has nothing to do with the eternal ideal love we've come to associate with it?
The Origin of Marriage
It is unknown when marriage originally occurred. The only thing we know is that the origin of marriage is one that predates recorded history.
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The Origin of Marriage: Purpose
Although the origin of marriage in terms of an exact date when the first marriage occurred is unknown, it IS known why it occurred… and it has absolutely nothing to do with love. Depending on the exact historical society, social classes, etc. marriage served several different purposes.
One purpose which may not come as a surprise if you've see any movie portraying royalty, is to cement alliances and advance the family. Alliances made an unsafe world a little more safe, and survival was key during these periods of time. Marriages were commonly arranged, with the children involved having no say in who their spouse was to be. Yes, we do mean children – marriages were common as early as fourteen, and some societies had their youths married as early as the age of eight.
It wasn't only royals who participated in arranged marriages for the advancement of their family, however, but people of all social classes. A prosperous town baker may have their child marry the well-to-do butcher's child. Or, a farmer with a small plot of land may have their children marry their neighboring farmers with just slightly more land to combine their farming possibilities.
Another fact some may be familiar with is that marriage was founded in order to create offspring. The historical world was not overpopulated like the modern one, and many children died before reaching adulthood. For this reason, women were expected to have one child after another, in the hopes that a few would live to reach adulthood.
To produce even more children, polygamy was incredibly common. The average man (such as a farmer or merchant) would have two to three wives, but it was not unheard of for royalty to have as many as a thousand wives and concubines. This increased the likelihood of having a larger number of children, which was seen as a larger chance of these children living to continue on the family. If one woman can have, say, eight children in her lifetime, then three women can have 24. Half or less of those children would make it to adulthood.
The Origin of Marriage: Love?
The start of “love” in marriage, I suppose, would begin with the centralization of monogamy by the church. This occurred between the 6th and 9th centuries. By the 19th century, the state had begun to require marriage licenses in the US. This only paved the way for the idea of love in marriage, however. It was not until around 250 years ago until love and sexual desire became the founding principles of the modern marriage.