Marriage has evolved quite radically, over time. So, too, really, has love. Matrimony started out as a business transaction. It was a way to consolidate status, combine wealth and secure a legacy for families who wanted prestige through partnership. Women were treated as property, to be passed from the man who helped bring her into this world to the man who agreed to let her do his laundry for the rest of his days. It was a cynical act, marriage, if you think about it. It didn’t prioritise love, it didn’t celebrate love – it didn’t really even require love. Perhaps some people who were married in this way grew to love one another, maybe some even doted on each other to begin with, and how lucky for them. For most people, it was simply an inevitable grab at a better life, dictated by social convention and commerce.
Before the second wave of feminism, women weren’t able to open a bank account or own property without the aid of a husband. That explains the urgency to get married that we so associate with young women; it was a private hysteria motivated by simply wanting to have the trappings of an adult life. Without a husband, women were left to live stunted lives, curtailed by the law and somewhat dictated by their family’s intentions and circumstance. Women accepted a deal when they got married generations ago: they would do the housework and raise the children while their husband worked, in exchange for security and access to the grown up world. It was a rigged deal, though, leading them from one sort of dependence to another.
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