Marriage: The Beginning or the End? Jeremy Worsham Essay

person_pin Marriage: The Beginning or the End?

by Jeremy Worsham

Published in Issue No. 11 ~ April, 1998

Here I sit a few months after my marriage in October still dazed from the monumental decision. There’s no doubt in my mind that I love my wife, but still I cannot help but see the differences between men and women and their underlying animal instincts represented by the act of marriage itself and sex. Looking at these two occurrences, one being a human creation and the other a natural desire, has helped me to come to some conclusions as to the origin of marriage and to better understand the differences between the sexes.

I guess the main differences between men and women (other than the obvious) hit me immediately after I became engaged to my wife. While she ran around booking the church, reception, photographer, and florist, I was just shaking my head in agreement and silently hoping that the day would be here soon so all of this madness would be over. She was hoping the wedding day would be here soon as well but for different reasons. Because I had little to do with the wedding besides get fitted for a tux and show up I had a lot of time to think (and they wonder why guys get cold feet). You’d be surprised at how deeply you can philosophize when contemplating the rest of your life; I increasingly thought more and more about my short life before my decision to marry. Meanwhile my wife can’t help but look to the future as she plans for the big day. As I thought more about it, it became clear that I was not the first man to think this way.

Take for instance the bachelor party. Here we have a blatant celebration of the free man, free of course from the duties required of a married man. It is if you prefer a celebration of the single life. On the other side of the spectrum there is the bride to be; they celebrate the up coming event by having a bridal shower. The very name looks forward to the oncoming event just as the name bachelor party looks back. At bridal showers the bride receives gifts to get her started on her future life with her new husband. At bachelor parties, though, the goal is to get the guy into a drunken stupor so he can bravely go forward towards the death of life as he knows it. So in general we see that men look back on their lives before marriage and women look forward to life after the blessed day. There are of course exceptions that make every rule. This is the case with the recent popularity of bachelorette parties; this is something brought on doubtlessly by the women’s liberation movement of the 1960’s . Now that we see the differences between men and women when it comes to marriage, maybe it would be interesting to ponder the origins of these differences.

Who was it that came up with the institution of marriage? Was it a man or; was it a woman? Let’s assume that men invented marriage; what would be his reasons for doing so? By marrying, a man could secure sexual satisfaction on a regular basis where as if he had no woman to call his own he would have to go out and find one every time he felt like having sex. By getting married, however, a man would not only secure sex, but he would also lay claim to a certain woman as his own personal property. A man’s wife would also fill the void left by his mother; while primitive man went hunting he had his wife back at the cave to cook and keep the home front in order. Now let’s assume that women invented marriage; they would gain a provider for themselves and their children. In effect women would fill with their husbands the void left by their fathers. Women would also be able to get someone to help with the burden of having children to look after; with marriage the man would not be able to just knock a girl up and go on his merry way. Then there are the mutual benefits to both men and women; neither of the two would have to worry about living life alone without the benefits of companionship. Also beneficial is the ability for a person to be able to track his or her ancestors; this ability would give rise to rule by nobility and a social class structure. It’s easy to see that both men and women could benefit from the custom of marriage and, we must not forget in our search for who’s responsible, that the other sex had to agree to the idea (or at least give in to pressure brought on by the other). From here the important question is how did it start that men began to look backward and women forward.

Women are biologically the creators of the future; men on the other hand are by the laws of nature conquerors or invaders. Men can at best only control their own future and that of the people who choose to follow them – not to mention the futures of the people they conquer. This natural difference may explain why the two sexes look at marriage in different ways. If there is any celebration of what’s to come by men it is the knowledge that the groom will – if he hasn’t already – conquer his wife’s virginity. Man also sees himself as being conquered by the eager woman (if only subconsciously). Women have, on the other hand, realized that their power lies in the creation of the future and, eagerly await its coming. After engagement comes marriage, after marriage comes children and on and on. These expectations come from society’s unreal expectations that women should feel a sense of loss if they don’t get married and/or have kids. These women become the objects of gossip and are laughed at and called old maids. They must secure their future by getting a husband. These two ideals might help explain why things are as they are when it comes to men and women’s views concerning marriage.

At any rate here I sit having done the deed. I have conquered and been conquered (some may prefer to say whipped) but, I have come to the ultimate realization in the end that true happiness only comes from telling society to fuck off, and doing my own thing.

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Jeremy Worsham attends college in southern Texas. His experiences in the state universities, there, have convinced him that academia is in serious trouble in this country.