What is Marriage For?

Kherrity: Were "bachelors" looked down upon?

EJGraff: I can't say I know about 'bachelors,' but it is true that fathers forced young men to marry by withholding their inheritances....

Kherrity: Thanks E.J. -- I loved your book, by the way.

lisa0765: Women stopped working because they had to? Not because it meant more to them to stay at home taking care of the family?

EJGraff: Essentially, yes. Work was taken away to another part of the city. Very slowly it became a show-off thing to have wives who didn't work. Men were allowed to leave home but women weren't, and work was no longer at home so they started doing the serving-girl routine.

catherine13: Why do you have to get married to be recognized as a couple by insurance companies, the state, etc.? Why don't they change with the times?

EJGraff: Excellent question, catherine13. In fact, traditionally people did live together without any official registration or recognition (even from the church). However, today we live in much more complicated times than our ancestors did. We constantly bump up against institutional strangers -- insurance companies, cemeteries, employers, etc. How do they know whether a given person who claims to be our beloved really is, or is just a lunatic stranger? Marriage is the marker we have to let the hundreds of strangers know who we believe counts to us.

catherine13: Why can't we just wear signs?

EJGraff: More on Catherine's question ... marriage is a convenient legal mailbox. Unfortunately, the history of humanity is the history of disagreement. Since people *do* disagree about such things as inheritance, separation and child custody, "marriage" is the word that marks a relationship that counts and "marriage" is that sign. However, other countries do things differently. Australia, Canada and some other countries have an intermediate status for "de facto" couples but it's imposed, whether you like it or not.

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