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Word Count: 2,115
Until fairly recent times in Western society marriage was regarded as too important a family matter to be entrusted to nubile inexperienced youths As sociologist William Goode notes Kinfolk or immediate family can disregard the question of who marries whom only if a marriage is not seen as a link between kin lines only if no property power lineage honor totemic relationships and the like are believed to flow from the kin lines through the spouses to their offspring The parents role was to be alert to the unwanted presence of lust passion or love in their offspring which might lead them into deleterious connections The notion of parental rule supplanting individual choice may seem quaint and even ridiculous today but viewing the modern institution of marriage against a backdrop of marital choice through the centuries may shed some light on todays high divorce rate If romantic love is a luxury that earlier generations could scarcely afford to link with marriage it also may be the undoing of many contemporary unions In addition to being unpredictable in its duration romantic love sets up high expectations that some marriages cannot fulfill Mutual love generally but not invariably takes place between two individuals of equal status in society Passion between unequals typically occurs in temporary relationships a king may have a sexual relationship with a barmaid but is unlikely to marry her In the rare case where the relationship persists the status of one of the members changes Thus when the emperor Justinian wanted to marry the courtesan-actress Theodora he first had to create a law which offered glorious repentance to those who had prostituted their persons to the theater Gender and Status The chief basis of status among the ancients probably was physical strength and skill Later as civilization progressed it was land Although then as now most societies primarily were run by men the biblical Hebrews seem to have elevated women
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