Marriage Around the World
The best way to define marriage is to say that it is a socially accepted union that unites at least two people as spouses. It’s hard to give marriage a definition because it represents so many different types of unions and looks so different in many parts of the world. Although it’s the most common form of marriage here in the U.S, a marriage certainly doesn't only unite a man and women in a civil marriage recognized by law. There are plural marriages, uniting men with multiple wives or uniting women with multiple husbands, common law marriages, and civil marriages as mentioned before. Some people go through religious ceremonies to be united by Holy
Matrimony and in many parts of the world same sex couples can be united by marriage. Looking into what types of marriages are common in different parts of the world is so intriguing.
One type of marriage I find particularly intriguing is same-sex marriage. It’s something that is constantly being talked about and that laws in the U.S have recently been changing over. Same-sex marriage is something that legally is new in the U.S, on May 17th, 2004 Massachusetts became the first state in the United
States to allow same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry (Freedom To
Marry). The right for same sex couples to marry is something that people are still fighting for in many U.S states. Its strange to think that something that is only recently legal in some states in the U.S has been happening for centuries in other parts of the world. The U.S is a place that many people think of as very advanced in many ways over much of the world, but yet something like same-sex marriage being accepted we are quite behind on.
In many places people marry for specific reasons, such as in Sudan when the Nuer women have same sex marriages and marry another women for the purpose of preserving a fathers last name. These same sex marriages in Sudan are not sexual relationships, but instead they are considered symbolic and social relationships.
They occur only when a father has daughters and no sons. The main reason for the same-sex marriages is because the fathers patrilineage needs to survive. The Nuer people only have these same-sex marriages occur between women for this reason.
Although the marriage consists of two women, one of the women is still recognized socially as the husband of the other women (thus being the wife). The women in the marriage who is considered the wife has sex with men in which her ‘husband’ approves off, in order to become pregnant. When the child is born it is considered to be the child of the two women, although the ‘husband’ is not genetically related she is socially recognized as the pater. It’s interesting to see social paternity recognized here by the Nuer people rather than the more common biological paternity being recognized. The women’s children are looked at as the legitimate sons and daughters of the female husband. The female husband in this community is biologically a women but socially she is considered a man (133).
Another form of marriage I find particularly interesting is polygamy. Polygamy, which is a plural marriage, has two-forms polygyny and the less common polyandry.
Polygamy is not legal in the U.S, here you can practice serial monogamy, which is being able to have more than 1 spouse but never at the same time (140). An example of serial monogamy would be a man getting a divorce and then remarrying a different woman. This is legal in the U.S and is a fairly common practice. Although the man has now had 2 wives, he was only married to them one at a time.
Polygyny is common throughout different parts of the world in places such as Saudi
Arabia and Africa. One would think that a wife in a polygynys relationship might feel jealous and not want her husband to marry another wife, but that is often not the case. The first wife often asks her husband to marry a second wife so that she can…