Marriage: an extended essay

A/N This was set as a school assignment, intended to compare western to eastern marriages, and others. I am from the U.K so that is what it centres around, bt please forgive any mistakes mentioning the U.S

Over a quarter of a million people get married each year in UK. The average age for a woman's first marriage is 28, and for men it is 30, but to start with, what exactly is marriage? The technical meaning for marriage, as set out by the oxford concise dictionary is 'the legal union of a man and woman to live together, and have children legitimately'. Although this is the technical meaning of the word, different religions consider the act differently. Christianity for example, consider it a union of two souls, a man and a woman, to be bound under the eyes of God, and to be each other's spouse. They are affirming their love for one another, and are presenting it to all present. They are supposedly accepting this particular partner as their only spouse, for life, and in English vows, the phrase 'till death do us part' is still included, although as is becoming increasingly apparent, fewer and fewer marriages are upholding this vow. 2 out of 5 UK marriages end in divorce, the highest rate in Western Europe, and 20% of marriages last less than 5 years 33% of marriages last less than 10 years. 40% of marriages last less than 15 years, leaving only seven percent of all marriages lasting over 15 years.

In many eastern civilisations and religions, particularly in history, marriages have been primarily arranged for the convenience of the families of those actually involved, and love is not usually a part of it. In Hindu culture, a 'dharma' is paid to the groom's family, as a thank you for accepting their daughter for marriage. It also helps to strengthen family ties, and favours can be called upon because of this. The television and media have often contorted marriage, but in this country, you must first apply for a license, from the local registry office. Then, there is normally a ceremony, either religious (in the holy building of that person's religion) Or it can be held at the registry office, but either way, they must have a license, and it must be witnessed (their signature is needed to sign the register to show that this has actually taken place. People marry for and endless number of reasons, but of course, the foremost is love, but some religious couples don't want a baby born out of wedlock,

In the U.S a non - US citizen must have a green card to stay there and work. There is a loophole, in that if you marry an American citizen, you are allowed to live and work in America, and divorce rates in the U.S are high, and it is a depressing fact that what was once a way of showing your love for another under the eyes of God and vowing 'till death do us part has now degenerated into little more than a way to gain citizenship. Of course This is not always the case, obviously, and the majority of people do marry for love, it is only a small minority that do this, but it is depressing of the mockery that the marriage system is used in this way.

When the actual marriage ceremony is over, people usually decide to have a reception, in which people have a dinner, and usually dancing. It is a chance for the guests to talk, and for the married couple to talk to the guests. Usually gifts are given and a toaster is something that is always given, as the new couple are expected to live together and start a household.

People select a marriage partner in several ways. There are lots of people who don't have the dating skills or the time to go about finding people to start a relationship with, and the growth of people who have fulltime careers and work for Long hours at a time (or nightshifts) as is becoming increasingly the trend, and so people have taken to using dating agencies or matchmaker agencies in newspapers to find partners. You submit your details, and the people try to match you up with someone who suits your hobbies.

Usually however, people go out, and meet others at clubs, bars, pubs and other social gatherings, and meet others. They then go on dates on their own, where they get to know the other person, and eventually after this relationship continues to work, they may decide to get married.

A love match can be based on a huge number of reasons, and as everyone is unique, every wants a different thing out of a relationship. Normally, a love match is based on a sharing of interests- couple like talking to each other, and common ground in the form of an interest or hobby is something that can be referred to, and is he starting point of many of the first full conversations use this. It is something of an 'icebreaker' to shatter the tension.

Arranged Marriages, however, differ from the 'western' idea of marriage. The common western conception of an arranged marriage is that it is forced upon those who a re actually getting married, and they get no say on whether or not they're going to marry the person or not. It is, playing along with western stereotype in that it is done for a variety of reasons, some or most for the parents benefit. It may be to create a bond between the two families, it may be so that they may share land (this is sought after especially in the subsistence economy of rural India) or simply for the link between the two families.

Those involved however, do get a choice in the marriage. The two involved meet within their two families, usually for a meal, and they then go on the western equivalent of a 'date' together alone, without the family. They then get to wait for as long as they wish to make the decision on whether or not they're going to marry. They do not have to, but refusal may offend and damage the relationship between the two families as they may have become close over the period of introduction, or they may be old family friends.

There is also such a thing as forced marriage, which usually happens in the eastern world, and is frowned upon, in western society. This is that the couple is forced into marriage by the parents, and that they get no choice in the matter. Therefore it can be a very stressful relationship, as they are under constant pressure from the families to stay together, and are unable to break the marriage because of it. A woman in the religions that permit forced marriages, if she does get divorced, is frowned upon, as it does not seem right that she has deserted her husband.

Eastern religions feel the same about marriage as Western Religions- if you do not feel love for the person you are going to be marrying; it is an untrue marriage to do so. Christianity has traditionally frowned upon arranged marriages, and yet they too believe in a stereotype that they are in fact 'forced' marriages.

There are some pros and cons for the different types of marriages, and the popular misconception for an arranged marriage is that it will always leave those involved feeling dissatisfied and unhappy with their marriages, and yet this is not so. Only a few marriages end in divorce once they have been arranged, but this (divorce) is often considered a shameful thing to do, and so it is often not attempted even though it might be the best option. The divorce rate in the west has now skyrocketed, and this is nothing like the other arranged marriage divorce rate. Some people believe for this reason that arranged marriages are clearly the best policy to adopt

In summary, people marriage for a huge number of reasons, although love does play a large part in it. Every religion believes basically the same principals on marriage, and they all consider it a joyous occasion and a union for life, all religions believe that it is a holy union under the eyes of God, and is forever lasting.


In Japan if you are twenty-five and not engaged or married, then you are called "Christmas Cake!" In India if you divorce in an arranged marriage your parents will disown you. In Pakistan 90 percent of marriages are arranged while in Japan 25-30 percent of all marriages are arranged. Some Indian women have taken drug overdoses to escape from the emotions that their lives would bring them. In China if you are in an arranged marriage then you are only allowed to have one child. In India women can have up to 8 sons. Some countries believe that girls take money away from the family so girl babies are killed. Some countries believe that boys bring money to the family. It is an "honour" to have a boy.