What is Marriage For?

Runningincircles: What's a de facto couple?

EJGraff: Do you live with someone? Do you act "married"? That's a de facto couple ... although Canada and Australia have specific legal definitions about who counts (and same-sex couples count) under that definition.

caseyjones99:Why haven't marriage vows changed in wording through the years?

EJGraff: The vows question -- a very beautiful question. They have, in fact, changed through the years. The Romans' was a much more legalistic formula: The groom asked the father-in-law whether he'd give away his daughter, and the father-in-law would say yes! As for the Christian wording, it's just such a beautiful poem: For better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health ... how could it get better?

Cmtemom: What were the marriage rules before the 19th century vs. what they are now?

EJGraff: Cmtemom -- fab question. And it took me 253 pages to answer! But let me take a few stabs at this. First, marriage has *always* been a social battleground, the rules *constantly* in flux. Before the 19th Century, a marriage was a working partnership. Once capitalism made it possible for people to make their livings independently -- to choose their work lives, and therefore their love lives -- there were several resulting battles. There was the battle over whether contraception should be legal, over whether divorce should be allowed for more reasons than adultery and attempted murder (the traditional Protestant reasons), over whether women should be allowed to have custody of their own children (which they never could before 1858), and whether they could own property or get educations. And now there's the battle over same-sex marriage.

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