My partner and I have been together for over 10 years. The decision was created through love, mutual respect, understanding and companionship. Marriage was not an issue. Being spiritual, we felt our union was blessed by our higher power, be it God, Buddha, Allah or the universe. Not believing in the sentence of a supreme being offering punishment for our lifestyle, we felt no need to pursue a formal union through a church or religion. Also since our relationship was built on trust, we did not feel the need to enter into a legal marriage contract.
Throughout history the contract of marriage has undergone an evolution. Marriage traditions have varied greatly from ancient cultures to modern times. From the speaking of private personal vows between two individuals who have chosen the union to religious dedication between those chosen by their families at birth. Historically, the marriage contract has insured paternity, ownership, property, inheritance, authority and responsibility. In most cultures marriage offered specific restrictions and benefits.
Whether willing or not, marriage offered benefits to all parties involved. Wives were given protection and security in exchange for her marriage duties. Husbands on the other hand, had someone to run the household and to bear children. Often marriage provided security in the event of death. In some cultures it was marriage within the husband’s family, with others it was the legal ownership of property.
On the other hand, the consequence of not honoring a marriage contract was at one time pretty severe. Women were sentenced to death for adultery and a husband who did not provide equally among his wives was obligated to give her a divorce at no expense to her.
Several years ago, my partner and I found it necessary to enter into a marriage contract for legal reasons. In particular, the lack of a marriage contract limited our financial situation (much like in ancient times). We specifically felt the need to plan for the survival of the other in death but also marriage offered us a reduced cost in medical coverage. Being a ‘traditional couple’, entering into this contract was effortless. We went to the local courthouse and it was done.
The previous year we had exchanged barefoot love vows in the presence of a small group of friends with the moon and stars as witness. It was not legally binding but in our eyes it completed our partnership.
Today marriage has evolved to include benefits that are recognized by the government and society. It offers control over each others affairs when necessary, shared financial obligations and assets, visitation benefits, employment and government benefits, and bereavement benefits, to name a few.
In modern times marriage continues to offer security and protection to those who are willing to enter into the legal contract. Although it can include a religious obligation, that was not the original intent of marriage, nor is it necessary for its implementation. With the evolution of society in this country, both men and women can live independently and are not dependent on marriage, just as divorce and adultery are no longer punishable by death.
Marriage when entered into with love is a beautiful union. When blessed by religion can enhance your spiritual path. However, it is not owned by one religious group nor should it be limited by the restrictions of any one religion. Love and partnership transcends gender and sexual orientation.
In the free world, as our civilization evolves to recognize a diverse population, it is necessary to expand our thinking of who is able to enter this legal contract. Any adult who is able to enter a legally binding contract should not be limited by stipulations and preconceived ideas of marriage.
– The Crone