The modern world considers marriage as a social construct. Generally, it is agreed that marriage has a natural purpose. The culture and the conventions of a country have a very prominent role in marriage. It is difficult for one to reach the assumption that it is a culture that constructs marriages.
If marriage is defined by culture alone, then it will be easy for the culture to alter it, whenever it desires. An appropriate examination of marriage proves that culture is not behind the construct of marriage and families, but it is from the family and marriage a good culture has been constructed. It falls in the line of thought that bricks make the building, and not the building makes the bricks.
It is not a concrete reality that expresses itself to the husband and wife in the same outward appearance. People consider marriage as the building block of society. When one considers the words of Gregory Koukl, one can easily understand the depth of the term ‘marriage.’
He says, “Every higher civilization has defined marriage as an institution joining members of the opposite sex.” (Koukl, 2005). The given statement reveals the different layers of the term ‘marriage,’ and the word ‘institution’ contains a lot of serious ideas and functions.
Marriage is a group of actions and interactions based on mutual understanding and expectation. One can see the most striking example of the conceptual change in the field of marriage in the course of the seventeenth century. In the traditional marriage system, both men and women have their own rights and responsibilities. Man’s role was that of the head, and the ruler, a woman, has the role of an obedient follower.
Further, more than a social contract, marriage is absolutely an emotional and legal commitment. Since the time of marriage, two individuals make the choice that they will share the rest of their lives together, and society admits the relationship. There is a common concept behind it that is with marriage; the people are wrapped with force for stability and social responsibility.
There are a number of facts that affect the process of marriage, such as religion, faith, politics, social status, etc. Based on the common view, marriage is an agreement between two persons. Every person follows some constructed beliefs and ideologies in married life.
Almost all human societies try to maintain some particular ideologies. If there is a chance for breaking this ideology, the existence of married life will be questioned. Researches show that religious beliefs influence long term marital relation.
Here religion is considered from two different perspectives: people’s faith in God and their religious commitment. Even religion is not at all an important factor in married life, and after the birth of a child, the marriage bond grows stronger. Here also the concepts about marital relations are constructed by people themselves.
Various facts affect the smooth functioning of marital life. Expression of affection, communication, ability to listen to the needs of others, thoughts, feelings, and opinions, sexuality, and intimacy are the building blocks of marital life. Distribution of roles is another important aspect of the construction of a sustainable marriage.
Easy ways to maintain happiness in a marital relationship is, doing work together and trying to be more supportive and flexible. Sometimes people think that life is predictable when unexpected events happen; these will hinder their whole life. In short, marital satisfaction is based upon partners’ satisfaction with the roles they play in their marriage life.
Loyalty plays an important role in marital satisfaction. Loyalty is considered as a statement of lifetime commitment. It promotes a good way of behaving. Confidence, trust, and morality are the by-products of loyalty. The given quotation makes the relevance of loyalty in marriage life clear.
It is a powerful agent that strengthens the soul and the body. It says, “Loyalty is both this powerfully binding feeling and the quality of our actions, both with our spouses and with others, to strengthen our ties and keep us together.” (Miles, 2008).
Loyalty plays an important role in maintaining marital satisfaction. Sexual relationship is also a relevant factor in marital relation. It is generally considered that sex in married life reinforces the teamwork and the sexual dissatisfaction and despair often causes the family disillusionment.
Almost all human beings are in need of love and wish to be loved, honored, and cherished. This is the fact that it reveals the importance of feelings in the process of marriage. One who feels disappointments in the above things the social contract of marriage will perish.
If marriage is a social construct, they have another thing which questioning the existence of marital satisfaction, which is divorce. It is considered as contradicting to marriage. The concepts and ideas are created by the people themselves, and they construct or destroy the social contract –marriage
There are a number of supporting agencies that work for the smooth functioning of the marital relationship. It is seen that this social construct has been originated on the basis of these supporting agencies. Religion has a considerable role in married life. Every religion has its own customs and beliefs regarding the process of marriage.
The monogamy of Christians is the best example that assures it. The Christian religion gives a divine status to husband-wife relationships. Furthermore, Christian marriage functions are closely related to the church and religion.
Society and government are also important agencies that play a very notable role in it. The state makes laws for the smooth functioning of marital relationships. Generally, people show the tendency to obey the rules and regulations imposed by the state. Education contributes enough support for the existence of a marital relationship.
The presentation of the self is a significant layer of marriage. Each person tries to maintain his/her self for constructing the social contract. One’s personality can aptly be compared to a mask that covers many things from society, and one can use it whenever and wherever one presents himself and to society. ‘Self’ is a term that has been socially constructed, which contains various ideas like a person’s attitude, competence, trustworthiness, etc.
Here ‘self’ means the experiencing ‘I’ or a single point of awareness. When a person appears before others, he/she will have a number of motives and will be trying to control the opinion that they obtain from the situation. As man is a social actor, it is his main aim to keep his consistency and make compromises to various settings offered to him. Other persons are the major sources of our joy, gladness, and our success.
One can see that all the desirable experiences that one strives to acquire are based on cooperation and interaction with others. It is this cooperation and interaction between the husband and wife that play a vital role in marital satisfaction. Our feelings of comfort and sense of safety depend upon the other person’s perceptions of us. One can try to keep or develop a sense of caring in day to day activities; others will appear more positive.
If you keep averting in your day to day activities, they will appear to you as negative. A person tries to maintain himself through repetition of circumstances, actions, thought, emotion, and other day to day activities. All the time, others expect to receive a kind of positive approach from those around them.
The words of Erving Goffman express his view about maintaining self in everyday life, and he rightly puts it when he says: “Taking communication in both its narrow and broad sense, one finds that when the individual is in the immediate presence of others, his activity will have a promissory character.” (Goffman, 1959).
A person who tries to maintain his self through his activities will not have a promissory character before others. Whenever a person appears before others, his movements and actions are generally depended on the situation. The modern man lives the world of inference. Here one cannot determine scientifically that your guest will not steal your money or your things. But your guest is a good person, he tries to keep himself, and things go smoothly.
To conclude, it is inferred that marriage is a social construct. Several agencies and factors have influenced this social construction to assume its present position. The men and women of the present world are trying much to maintain the stability of their relationship.
There isn’t any acceptable theory that has been preserved for the protection of husband-wife relation. Religion, faith, social values, education, laws, and social customs are the enforcing factors in maintaining marital relations. The presentation of self is another important factor in the construction of this relation.
Various sociological theories and principles are helpful for strengthening and maintaining the husband-wife relation. Most of the sociologists underline the fact that marriage is a mutual contract between two persons and with the society that proves itself as a social construct.
Goffman, Erving. (1959). Presentation of self in everyday life: Introduction.
Koukl, Gregory. (2005). Marriage is a social construction. Stand to Reason.
Miles, Linda. (2008). Marital virtue of loyalty. Marriage Strengthening Your Marriage Moments: As You Become Parents.