Factors that Explain the Societal Attitudes Toward Marriage

Thesis Statement

Marriage is a social practice which is governed by varied ethical, moral, cultural and religious practices. Different cultures perceive marriage differently from the other. Societal attitudes regarding monogamy and polygamy have been previously analyzed and researched on by various researches in effort to decipher the similarities as well as differences regarding the issue. The choice between polygamy and monogamy is an individual choice rather than cultural affiliations or societal attitude. This paper entails a critical discussion on societal attitudes towards marriage according to varied researchers.

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Societal Attitude towards Family

Marriages and monogamy have become the most trending topics in the modern Western society. It is important to note that marriage has different meanings with reference to the place, time and culture of those involved. Marriage exists in different forms and what seem normal to some people, it is unthinkable to others. It is therefore not necessary for one culture to impose their ideas about marriage on another culture. The kind of marriage varies according to the culture of people; for instance we have those who do multiple partners in marriage, one partner while others age forms the main barrier to marriage.

In the modern western society, particular kind of marriage is legalized while others are not. The consequences of such legal issues have led to alienation and standardization of marriage. Traditions in marriage have been coded and made stagnant yet the society keeps changing. The legalization of some cultures also leads to other forms that are unrecognized to be unacceptable and kind of taboos in the society. The problem therefore results when other unrecognized forms of marriage are considered to be wrong or imprudent. Those who do arranged marriages perceive the free and romantic marriages as silly and sometimes refer to them as pleasure seekers while the romantic couples see arranged marriages to be weak and inhuman there is therefore a big misunderstanding between the different forms of marriages due to legalization.

In the western world, marriage is considered romantic where the choice is made individually between the couples. Romantic marriage is deep in the institutions until other forms are seen as illegal or nearly illegal. The factors such as love, tradition, relationships and family matters play a big role in choosing to marry. Good relationships do not require a couple to get a contract before marriage. However, the contract marriages enable one to be bound to another hence there is little possibility of divorce. The psychology of marriage on contract does not sound right to some people because of the roles that accompany marriages.

Polyamory can be defined to be allowing of the potential for one to have multiple partners in love within the relationship and it may consist of sexual partners. Relationships that allow polyamory are not considered to be unfaithful to the partner but rather mutual love and being honest in the non-monogamous relationships. The main reasons for such relationships are love, gain stability, partners being more compatible, peaceful coexistence and the general honesty. However, secret lovers amount to cheating in the polyamory relationships. Most cultures of the west and the religions are quite strict on the monogamous relationships.

Polygamy is regarded as an illegal practice in the western world. This is due to ignorance, bias and lack of being enlightened in the human compassion matters. There are no sufficient reasons to regard this practice as a problem if it is legalized as other countries do. This therefore illustrates the issue of one form of marriage being institutionalized leaving others oppressed.

Proponents of marriages for same sex have not been on the forefront to defend polygamy or other types of marriages regarded as marginalized. They distinguish marriage for same sex from different sex marriages. It is therefore that both sides do not favor polygamy or even thinking about the history of polygamy. Therefore, they both seem to agree on the fact that it should be impossible to practice multi-party marriages regardless of what happens with gay marriages.

Most Americans fear the term polygamy because they think of the traditional polygyny where one man has many wives in a hierarchical manner. Another model almost similar to it is the polyamory where intimate relationships comprise of more than two people.  There is insufficient public debate about the requirement of polyamory marriages. This is as a result of scarce literature review on the law of polyamory. Most discussions have portrayed polyamory as a negative practice. However, polyamory form of marriage which is ethically non-monogamy has a serious consideration in terms of intimate relationships. Polyamory has been embraced by few individuals whose main consideration is based on the factors of knowing yourself, honesty, self-possession and having privilege for love and sex but not jealousy .The resistance of polyamory by the society is merely associated with patriarchal polygyny that existed in historic times. Such a factor can be ameliorated by current issues of polygamous unions in circumstances where the women feel the benefits of sharing duties of wives with other women in the relationship. The practical lack of efficiency of polygamous may be the other cause of resistance from the society to embrace the practice.

The norms in the western world urge people strongly to go for monogamy. The law has an additional pressure that it provides on this factor. This is through the laws such as criminal adultery, laws of bigamy, the marriage law, cases of custody, legal discrimination of workplace and the zoning laws. It seems like if the laws can be changed, then most people will decide on their own of what kind of marriage they want.

According to Plato in his writings of Aristophanes’ speech, there are three types of human beings categorically: male, female, and combination of the male and female. These human beings are completely similar with their reproductive organs forming the basis of their differences. This forms the theory of origin of polyamory and of bisexuality. Furthermore, the biological explanations describe male monogamy into three types; the relation of male to each other which interprets equal distribution of sexual resources in the monogamy marriage as an advantage to the hunting behavior of males.  Another type is the interest of males directed to off springs. The male species have a duty to protect the offsprings to improve their chances of survival. Finally we have male-female relations where the male are close to female and this accounts to the socio-biological explanations of love and jealous among human beings.

Polygamy is most of the times used to mean things that are different. Polygamy is sometimes understood to be more than one person kind of a marriage, irrespective of the sex while others define it to be marriage of one man with many wives. Marriage of one man to many wives is referred to as polygyny which is the opposite of polyandry. Poly seems to be truly distinct from monos since the polys feel that couples should overcome jealous which can create room for more possibilities of love and sex. Marriage patterns in China have continued to change over the years; intergenerational relations have also continued to shift balance from the conformist patterns that the society adopted. In this respect, it is worth pointing out that since the 1940s; a lot of changes in regard to generational norms on marriage have changed.  It is noteworthy to assert that the traditional arranged marriages have shifted to individual spouse selection. In today’s Chinese society, youths are not participating in arranged marriages, as it was the case with their parents. Between 1970 and 2000, the rate of arranged marriages has reduced appreciably, and this is attributed to the change in cultural norms that have taken the shape of modernity .Conservatively, parents used to arrange marriages for their children because of the then existing cultural norms, but the situation has changed with young people using their criteria in choosing spouses .In today’s society, parents have insignificant roles in the marriage structures of their children, as compared to the previously years.

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The attitudes towards polys are changing over time because more discussions are emerging to the point where polyamorous households are expected to benefit largely from the economies of scale and labor specialization. Polyamory may also spur an objection that polygamy as practiced before only involves one man having many wives. Polyamory is also expected to inspire the major concerns of sexually transmitted diseases. Finally, polyamory can raise anxieties about other taboos in the society.

According to Ryan, The role of culture in the marriage institution cannot be underestimated. Different communities globally are guided by their cultures on not only the most appropriate time for marriage, but also on the bride price that is payable to the family of the bride. Cultures store all traditional practices that determine dowries, the way of executing a marriage and the societal rule that governs the married couples. Culture holds that marriage is to be practiced between two individuals of the opposite sex; however, with the dynamism in technology, levels of civilization and modernity, there are other forms of marriages that have been witnessed in the society such as the gay, lesbianism and cohabitation marriage practices. Religion influences the cultural practice through upholding the good deeds within the society. Religious teachings hold that marriage is a Godly affair meant to ensure procreation. God made man and gave him the responsibility of procreation so as to enhance world’s population as well as exploit its resources. Hence, both religion and culture play vital role in influencing the way of marriage within different communities. 

Conclusively, according to the primary source “Sex at Dawn” and other secondary sources, the societal attitudes toward polygamy and polyamory in the western society varies significantly comparing to there of the world .  Elizabeth in “Monogamy’s Law: compulsory monogamy and polyamorous existence” expound the attitude of Western society regarding monogamy and the general stand on polyamory type of marriage. Decisively, the choice of the type of marriage solely lay on the individuals rather than the societal views and cultural affiliations.