Tech UPTechnologyIs marrying for love silly?

Is marrying for love silly?

Today no one doubts that love should be the ultimate reason for marriage, but in reality it is an idea that appears in the eighteenth century and takes hold in the nineteenth with the romantic movement. Until then , marriage was an economic and political institution too important to be left in the hands of the two individuals involved . And even less that they based such an alliance on something as irrational as falling in love.

Marriage was not invented so that men could protect women or so that they could exploit them; it is an alliance between groups beyond the immediate family. For elites, it was an excellent way to consolidate wealth, pool resources, and forge political alliances. From the Middle Ages to the 18th century, a woman’s wedding dowry was the largest transfer of money, goods or land that a man would receive in his entire life. For the poorest, it was also an economic transaction that should have been beneficial for the family, like marrying your son to the daughter of someone who has a field that adjoins yours. Marriage was the basic structure for the survival of the extended family , which includes grandparents, siblings, nephews… Contrary to what we usually believe, the image of the husband working and the wife looking after the house is a recent product, of the 1950s. Until then, the family was not supported by a single supplier, but all its members contributed their work to the only business that it owned.

Just because marriage wasn’t based on love doesn’t mean people didn’t fall in love. Although for some cultures true love is incompatible with marriage . Such a situation may surprise us but in our beloved medieval Europe adultery was idealized as the highest form of love: for the Countess of Champagne true love “could not exercise its powers between two people who were married to each other” and many popular songs They made fun of married love.

In ancient India, falling in love before getting married was a rebellious behavior and in traditional China, excessive love between the spouses was a threat to the respect and solidarity due to the family , since it could rival the dedication in time and work that a son should allocate their parents. Love is so far removed from traditional Chinese marriage that this word was only applied to describe an illicit relationship. It was in the 1920s that a word was invented to designate love between spouses because such a radically new idea called for a new word.

Today there are many cultures that disapprove of the idea that love is the center of marriage, as in the African Fulbe, from the north of Cameroon. Fulbe women “vehemently deny any attachment to their husbands,” says anthropologist Helen Regis of the University of Louisiana. Others, on the other hand, approve of love between spouses, but never before the marriage has fulfilled its primary objective. Thus, as an elderly Kenyan Taita told anthropologist Jim Bell, his fourth wife “had been the wife of his heart.” In this society, women speak with melancholy about how wonderful it is to be the “dear wife”, but only a small percentage experience that luxury, because a Taita man marries a “heart wife” when he has already accumulated others for practical reasons. .

However, this is quite rare in polygamous societies, since in general it is quite frowned upon for the husband to have a preference for one of them . In the Islamic world, the man is forbidden to make differences between his wives: he must dedicate the same time, the same attention and give them the same gifts to all of them. And the jealousy between them? Contrary to the idealized –and eroticized- image that Europeans have of Muslim harems, life in them was a hidden and bloody battle, where murder was more common than we might think.

By contrast, in Botswana, wives of the same husband are seen more as allies than rivals : “Without co-wives, a woman’s work is never done,” they say. This alliance also appears among the Cheyenne: a chief of this tribe told anthropologists Karl Llewellyn and EA Hoebel that he wanted to get rid of two of his three wives and had to confront all three of them because the women told him that if he kicked out two, they would all go.

Other cultures, such as the Hindu, applaud the emergence of love between the spouses but after getting married; yes, and despite Bollywood, love is still not a good reason to start a family. According to a 1975 study of college students in the Indian state of Karnataka, only 18% “strongly” approved of a love match and 32% strongly disapproved of it. As it was said in early modern Europe, “those who marry for love have good nights and bad days “.

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