Marriage: Man, Woman, Love, Conflict, Resolution


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Old Doc Granger looks at traditional man/woman relationships in simple terms: you fall in love, you get married and things come at you left and right at rapid speeds, sometimes even before the honeymoon is over. Up to this point, the relationship leading to marriage has likely been mostly fun and frolic.

Old Doc draws an analogy between love and marriage and such with country music lyrics: Country music to me is about “Man, Woman, Love, and Conflict, hoping that certain conflict leads to resolution, and a celebration under the covers, or under the shade of an apple tree by the river. “There will never be anyone else but you,” the song goes.

However, a citizen journalist’s role like mine bears greater responsibility than traditional over-simplification of such an important element of our lives, so I did some digging and my searches resulted in this more classroom-appropriate, historically contexted modern day macro view of marriage.

If you’re in a hurry and want to see how the story ends, you’ll find Doc’s message in a Tim McGraw song in video at the end of the article.

Is marriage in your future? Having a foundational history of marriage is important to understand as you would any field or endeavor, such as a law degree, medicine, politics, and, yes, even marriage. Understanding a chosen endeavor’s past is crucial.

Context and Perspective

  • Marriage: The history of marriage illustrates how the institution has evolved culturally, legally, and religiously. It helps understand the varying definitions, roles, and expectations of marriage across different societies and times.

History of Marriage

Ancient Civilizations

  • Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt: Marriages were often arranged for political, social, or economic reasons. Love was not the primary factor, and marriage served to strengthen alliances and ensure the continuation of family lineage.
  • Ancient Greece and Rome: Similar to other ancient cultures, marriages were often arranged. The Greeks and Romans placed a high emphasis on dowries and the transfer of wealth. Women were usually married off at a young age to older men.
  • China: The Chinese developed complex marriage rituals, often involving matchmakers. Marriages were intended to unite families and ensure the continuation of the family line.

Middle Ages

  • Europe: The church began to play a more significant role in marriage. The concept of marriage as a sacrament emerged, and weddings became more formalized. The dowry system was prominent, and marriages were often arranged to forge alliances and ensure economic stability.
  • Islamic World: Islamic marriage practices emphasized the importance of a written contract, dowries, and mutual consent. Marriage was seen as a social contract to establish a family unit.


Renaissance to 19th Century

  • Europe: The idea of romantic love began to gain more prominence, but marriages were still largely influenced by economic and social considerations. The Protestant Reformation influenced marriage laws, emphasizing the importance of consent and the sanctity of marriage.
  • Asia: Traditional marriage practices continued, though Western influence began to introduce new ideas about love and partnership.

20th Century to Present

  • Global: The 20th century saw significant changes in marriage practices. Love and personal choice became the primary reasons for marriage in many parts of the world. Legal changes included the recognition of women’s rights, the legalization of same-sex marriage in some countries, and changes in divorce laws.

And then came honeymoons!

History of Honeymoons

Ancient and Medieval Periods

  • Ancient Europe: The term “honeymoon” is believed to come from the Norse word “hjunottsmanathr,” referring to the tradition of newlyweds drinking mead, a honey-based alcoholic drink, for a month (a moon) after their wedding to improve the chances of conception.
  • Medieval Europe: There are few records of honeymoons as we know them. Instead, newlyweds often held post-wedding celebrations and feasts in their community.

19th Century

  • Europe: The modern concept of a honeymoon began in Britain. Newlyweds of the upper class would take a “bridal tour,” visiting friends and family who had been unable to attend the wedding. This gradually evolved into a more private trip for the couple to celebrate their marriage.
  • United States: The honeymoon tradition spread to America, where it became fashionable for couples to travel to scenic or romantic destinations.

20th Century to Present

  • Global: The honeymoon became a widespread practice. Popular destinations included beach resorts, European cities, and exotic locales. The rise of the travel industry made it more accessible for couples from various economic backgrounds to enjoy a honeymoon.

Modern Trends

  • Destination Weddings: Some couples combine their wedding and honeymoon by getting married in a location that doubles as a honeymoon destination.
  • Adventure Honeymoons: Instead of traditional relaxing vacations, some couples opt for adventurous activities like hiking, scuba diving, or safaris.
  • Mini-Moons: Due to time or financial constraints, some couples take shorter trips immediately after the wedding and plan a more extended honeymoon for later.

Marriage and honeymoons have evolved significantly over time, reflecting changes in societal values, economic conditions, and cultural influences.

Changes to Marriages and the Causes

  1. Economic Factors
  • Industrial Revolution: Shift from agrarian economies to industrial ones led to urbanization and changes in family structures. Marriages became less about consolidating land and more about financial stability in an industrial society.
  • Women’s Economic Independence: Increased participation of women in the workforce allowed for greater financial independence, influencing the dynamics of marriage and the ability to choose partners based on love rather than economic necessity.
  1. Legal Changes
  • Marriage Laws: Changes in marriage laws, such as the legalization of divorce and the introduction of marital property laws, have altered the institution of marriage. Laws recognizing same-sex marriage have also expanded the concept of marriage.
  • Equal Rights Movements: Civil rights movements have led to greater equality in marriage, influencing practices and expectations around gender roles and partnerships.
  1. Cultural Shifts
  • Romantic Love: The rise of romanticism in the 18th and 19th centuries emphasized the importance of love and emotional connection in marriage.
  • Media and Literature: Portrayals of marriage in media and literature have influenced societal expectations, promoting the idea of marriage for love rather than economic or social reasons.
  1. Technological Advancements
  • Communication: Innovations in communication (letters, telephones, the internet) have made long-distance relationships and the selection of partners outside one’s immediate community more feasible.
  • Healthcare and Contraception: Advances in healthcare and contraception have given couples more control over family planning, impacting decisions around marriage and childbearing.
  1. Globalization
  • Cultural Exchange: Increased travel and cultural exchange have introduced diverse marriage customs and ideas, influencing local practices and expectations.
  • Migration: Movement of people for work or study has led to more intercultural marriages and a blending of traditions.

Changes to Honeymoons and the Causes

  1. Economic Factors
  • Disposable Income: Post-World War II economic booms in various countries increased disposable income, making travel more affordable for many couples.
  • Travel Industry Growth: Expansion of the travel industry, including the rise of affordable air travel and package holidays, made honeymoons accessible to a broader demographic.
  1. Social and Cultural Shifts
  • Romantic Idealism: The cultural emphasis on romance and individual fulfillment in marriage has increased the importance of honeymoons as a time for couples to bond and celebrate their union.
  • Media Influence: Media and advertising have glamorized the idea of exotic and luxurious honeymoons, influencing couples’ choices and aspirations.
  1. Technological Advancements
  • Transportation: Innovations in transportation (airplanes, trains, automobiles) have made it easier and faster for couples to travel long distances for their honeymoons.
  • Communication: Modern communication tools allow couples to plan and book elaborate honeymoon trips more efficiently.
  1. Legal and Social Changes
  • Marriage Age and Trends: Later marriages mean couples often have more financial resources to spend on honeymoons. Additionally, changes in societal norms around cohabitation and premarital relationships have shifted the expectations and significance of honeymoons.
  1. Personalization and Experience Economy
  • Customization: The modern focus on personalized experiences has led to a variety of honeymoon options, from adventure travel to wellness retreats, catering to diverse interests and preferences.
  • Experience Economy: The shift towards valuing experiences over material possessions has made the honeymoon an essential part of the wedding experience, with couples seeking memorable and unique trips.

These changes reflect broader societal trends and shifts in values, illustrating how marriage and honeymoons are dynamic institutions influenced by a complex interplay of factors.

Top Five Changes to Marriage in America

  1. Increase in Age at First Marriage
  • Trend: The average age at which people get married for the first time has risen significantly. In the 1950s, the average age was in the early twenties, while today it is closer to 30 for both men and women.
  • Causes: Higher education attainment, career prioritization, economic factors, and changing societal norms have all contributed to this trend.
  1. Decline in Marriage Rates
  • Trend: Fewer people are getting married compared to previous generations. The overall marriage rate has been declining for decades.
  • Causes: Increased acceptance of cohabitation, changes in personal priorities, financial instability, and a focus on individual fulfillment over traditional family structures.
  1. Rise in Divorce Rates and Later Decline
  • Trend: The divorce rate spiked in the 1970s and 1980s but has been gradually declining since the 1990s.
  • Causes: The initial rise was due to greater social acceptance of divorce and changes in laws making divorce easier. The later decline is linked to more selective marriage practices, increased age at marriage, and improved relationship education.
  1. Growth of Same-Sex Marriages
  • Trend: Following the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges), there has been a significant increase in the number of same-sex marriages.
  • Causes: Legal changes, increased social acceptance, and advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights have all played a role in this transformation.
  1. Shift in Gender Roles within Marriage
  • Trend: Traditional gender roles within marriage have evolved, with more emphasis on equality and shared responsibilities. Women are more likely to pursue careers, and men are increasingly participating in household duties and child-rearing.
  • Causes: Women’s rights movements, increased educational and employment opportunities for women, and changing cultural norms around gender and family roles.

These changes reflect broader societal shifts in values, economic conditions, and legal frameworks, illustrating the dynamic nature of marriage in America.

Is declining marriages seen as contributing to birth control?

The declining marriage rate is indeed seen as contributing to changes in birth rates and the use of birth control, but the relationship is complex and multifaceted. Here’s how declining marriages intersect with birth control and birth rates:

Declining Marriages and Birth Rates

  1. Postponement of Childbearing
  • Trend: As people marry later or choose not to marry, they often delay having children.
  • Impact: This delay can lead to fewer children being born overall, as the biological window for childbearing is reduced, and the likelihood of having larger families decreases.
  1. Increase in Non-Marital Births
  • Trend: There has been a rise in births outside of marriage. While the marriage rate has declined, many people still choose to have children.
  • Impact: This shift has changed the traditional family structure but does not necessarily reduce the overall birth rate.

Declining Marriages and Birth Control

  1. Greater Use of Contraceptives
  • Trend: Increased access to and use of contraceptives have empowered people to plan their families more effectively.
  • Impact: This contributes to both the decline in unplanned pregnancies and the decision to delay marriage and childbearing until later in life or avoid them altogether.
  1. Changing Attitudes Toward Family Planning
  • Trend: Social acceptance of contraception and family planning has grown, allowing individuals to prioritize personal and career goals.
  • Impact: People may choose to cohabit and use birth control to delay or prevent childbirth until they are ready, regardless of marital status.

Broader Societal Factors

  1. Economic Considerations
  • Trend: Economic instability and the rising cost of living can make both marriage and childbearing seem financially daunting.
  • Impact: Couples may choose to use birth control to avoid the added financial strain of having children until they feel more secure.
  1. Educational and Career Priorities
  • Trend: Higher education and career ambitions often lead to delayed marriage and childbearing.
  • Impact: The use of birth control becomes a practical necessity for those who wish to focus on education and career development before starting a family.

Marriage is an institution that will never go away. And with the institution of marriage comes conflicts. And with a changing culture comes a different landscape of what marriage is about, whom is chosen for this lifetime commitment, and so on.

Mother taught me a loving philosophy of , “Live and Let Live.” Culturally, this means that I do not question what is in a person’s heart that leads to a chosen lifestyle that might be in conflict with my “one man, one woman,” traditional belief about marriage. It is my hope that everyone lives a life of happiness and fulfillment during our brief time in this mortal realm on earth.

And about the traditional construct of marriage in our culture, I go back to my over-simplified version of love and marriage, divorce, declining child bearing, and all the complications today as this childhood nursery rhyme sneaks into my head: “Love and Marriage, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, horse and carriage. This  brother I tell you, you can’t have one without the other.”

The rhyme “Love and Marriage go together like a horse and carriage” comes from a song called “Love and Marriage,” written by Sammy Cahn (lyrics) and Jimmy Van Heusen (music) and was published in 1955. It was originally introduced by Frank Sinatra in the television production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” With love and marriage come conflicts, no matter for philosophical or biological structure of the two in love.

A country song that perfectly exemplifies the theme of love, marriage, conflict, resolution, and celebration ‘under the covers’ is “It’s Your Love” by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. This song captures the deep connection and affection between a man and a woman, celebrating the intimacy and bond that sustains their relationship.

Here are some key points about the song:

  1. Artists: Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
  2. Release Date: 1997
  3. Album: “Everywhere”
  4. Themes:
    • Love and Marriage: The song speaks about the profound love and connection between the couple, showcasing their deep affection and bond.
    • Conflict and Resolution: While the song doesn’t explicitly detail conflict, it emphasizes the strength of their love, suggesting that their bond helps them overcome any obstacles.
    • Celebration of Intimacy: The lyrics convey a sense of joy and fulfillment found in their intimate moments together.

If marriage were a meal, old Doc would conclude with, “Bon Appetite,” children. A ‘made bed’ is for fun, frolic, growth, and resolution and messing up the fresh, sun-purified sheets.

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