Marriage is not only the world’s oldest institution, but it is also the most cultivated one. It has gone through repeated cross-checks and has faced umpteen hurdles to reach the present stage.
In the Medieval times, men reigned supreme and women took a rather subordinate role in relationships that were based more on financial and political standing than love. Love was in fact thought as a great evil and love-child were almost outcast, to refrain people from fostering relations outside marriage. Women were supposed to get a sense of protection from their husbands and live within their challenged limits.
Only when the Enlightenment came, and the younger generation fought for their right of choice, there was more love in the offing. The problem was that it also created enormous scope for divorce, as was feared. The system prevailed right up to 1960s, where society faced numerous upheavals over rights of legitimacy and love marriage.
In the 1980s, when the water settled down, and the mix of love and arranged marriage somewhat fused into the ambit, it gave rise to a third front, namely to cohabitation. People realized that they could marry only for sex and children, but both did not necessarily require marriage for realization. Women married less in states where divorce was disallowed. And, the whole social stratification changed as the old “male-breadwinner” logic went under the bus, in favor of share expenses that became the norm. In this hullabaloo, marriage took a rough beating.
Stephanie Koontz beautifully puts emphasis on respecting people’s right of choice and decision of remaining single. However, she interprets in her book “Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage” that those who do get married should make an effort to nurture their relationship by responding to the various bids of attention. For sometimes, even a plain statement by a spouse can dig a hole in his or her heart if it does not get an adequate response.
In the context of marriage and freedom of choice for women to remain single, unmarried or divorced, another excellent book has hit the nail on the head. “Don’t Say I Do! Why Women Should Stay Single” by Orna Gadish is a brilliant perspective on the chances that today’s women have, without marriage. Thanks to the sexual revolution, science and technology of the information age, and corresponding mindsets of society that have been changed, marriage now is just one of the many available options. Almost 47 percent of American women are staying single, as they do not wish to fiddle with an unhappy marriage.
Couples in general, and women in particular, have the choice of cohabiting, or living apart, having a family with children, or enjoying the status of single parent. They vouch for financial and sexual independence in their lives and can explore other relationship options and family structures with more prescience. Marriage, which is on the decline, is no longer a yoke. It is not even a privileged choice. Thanks to upgraded changes, the modern woman can now look forward to breathing under a free Sun, where she has got the freedom of choice, love and expression. Both books carry a significant message for modern women and drive the point home with a bang.