- It is a binding contract...
- ...whose terms are not printed on the page you sign (and indeed are not easy to find)
- ...whose terms can change depending on where you are (in the United States, marriage laws vary by state; elsewhere they vary by country)
- ...whose terms can change over time, with no notification to the signers
- In most jurisdictions:
- the terms are asymmetrical and discriminatory by gender, even in areas unrelated to childbearing
- the idea of family is limited to one man and one woman plus any offspring
- In nearly all jurisdictions, no more than 2 adults may be joined to create a family, severely restricting the size and possible configurations of the family unit
- The exit terms are typically vague, or at least do not spell out the full reality of the actions necessary to dissolve the marriage (lawyers are typically required in order to successfully navigate through the necessary paperwork)
In other cultures, marriage is sometimes less restrictive; further study is warranted to determine how well various forms of marriage work, and in what specific ways they fail and succeed.
|from The Kreutzer Sonata [W] (1889), by Leo Tolstoy [W]:|
"And yet the transition state is terrible. People feel that haphazard sin is inadmissible. It is necessary in some way or other to regulate the sexual relations; but there exists no other foundation than the old one, in which nobody longer believes? People marry in the old fashion, without believing in what they do, and the result is falsehood, violence. When it is falsehood alone, it is easily endured. The husband and wife simply deceive the world by professing to live monogamically. If they really are polygamous and polyandrous, it is bad, but acceptable. But when, as often happens, the husband and the wife have taken upon themselves the obligation to live together all their lives (they themselves do not know why), and from the second month have already a desire to separate, but continue to live together just the same, then comes that infernal existence in which they resort to drink, in which they fire revolvers, in which they assassinate each other, in which they poison each other."
"All marry in this way. And I did like the rest. If the young people who dream of the honeymoon only knew what a disillusion it is, and always a disillusion! I really do not know why all think it necessary to conceal it.
"One day I was walking among the shows in Paris, when, attracted by a sign, I entered an establishment to see a bearded woman and a water-dog. The woman was a man in disguise, and the dog was an ordinary dog, covered with a sealskin, and swimming in a bath. It was not in the least interesting, but the Barnum accompanied me to the exit very courteously, and, in addressing the people who were coming in, made an appeal to my testimony. 'Ask the gentleman if it is not worth seeing! Come in, come in! It only costs a franc!' And in my confusion I did not dare to answer that there was nothing curious to be seen, and it was upon my false shame that the Barnum must have counted.
"It must be the same with the persons who have passed through the abominations of the honeymoon. They do not dare to undeceive their neighbor. And I did the same.