There was a time when marriage was a social prescription. In his 19th Century book, “The Knot Tied”, William Teg says,
“Marriage may with propriety be called the chief concern of human life. When we reflect that from it arises the nearest and most endearing relationships which go to form the comfort and happiness of existence in this world — husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and many others — the importance of the institution, in all its bearings on the welfare of society, will at once be recognised. In a word, marriage may be designated the hinge of all kindred, or the strongest link in the chain that binds mankind together.”
A couple of centuries earlier John Milton too paid tribute to wedded love in Book IV of Paradise Lost ~
“Hail, wedded Love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise, of all things common else!
By thee adult’rous love was driven from men
Among the bestial herds to range; by thee,
Founded in reason, loyal, just and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother, first were known.
Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame,
Or think the unbefitting holiest place
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets…”
Well, “perpetual fountain of domestic sweets”, no marriage can be as Milton knew from his own experience of an unhappy first marriage to Mary Powell, yet the idealist in him glorifies matrimony happily as one of the beauties of earth. Today that idealism has changed with marriage becoming more of a personal need than a social requirement. As an institution it is no longer sacrosanct and many families today are struggling with break ups and separations. Many of us old-timers (you may even call us old-fashioned) often sit and talk about this change and what has brought this about. Perhaps previous generations believed in “repair, mend and make it last” while today the prevalent philosophy seems to be “discard and get a new one…”