Personally I believe strongly in "Common Law marriage". If my spouse and I are "married" - wheather the State or Society agree or disagree makes little to no difference to our relationship.
In many cultures and countries across the world - marriage is a private and formal affair - devoid of the influence of the State. Indeed, to "produce" a "marriage certificate" was (and is) considred "shameful" !!!
Marriage licenses in the US were originally introduced to deal with the "problem" of 'inter-racial unions'.
Does this mean that I dismiss the institution of marriage? Do I not believe in "marriage"? Will I not have one?
Let me try and explain:
I don't own my SO, or vice-versa - we have our own friends, interests and activities, some shared, some not...
have those things without marriage, but marriage, marks the commitment
. It says "I will not walk away - I will not falter, I will not quit." The fact that some people make that commitment without understanding it or intending it has nothing to do with the institution itself.
It's probably worth mentioning; again; that different cultures have vastly different definitions of what marriage is.
As a friend of mine once put it (and I agree with him):
I think the problem with most marriages today is that we have begun to look at love & relationships as commodities, i.e. approaching an other with the attitude of 'What can I get out of this?'
I begin dating a girl because she makes me happy, and she is attractive, etc., but as soon as something about her annoys me-- as soon as I become bothered by the way she chews her food, or her taste in music-- I begin to feel like my needs could be better met elsewhere: I am a consumer of love and persons, and instead of entering into a relationship selflessly, with commitment and love, I enter into it selfishly, and thus it is usually doomed to fail.
Love is supposed to be about a surrendering of oneself for the Other. I think that marriage is still a very important step in a relationship in terms of committedness and sanctity.
I certainly feel that unfortunately "marriage" has come to mean "priviledge" and it has come to mean "whatever the government thinks it should mean".
I for one have never subscribed to the notion that the government had any role (IF ANY!) to play in your married life - be you monogamous, ploygamous, polyandrous, adulturous, heterosexual or homosexual. Government has no role nor place in legalising or prohibiting marriage of ANY sort.
Which leads us all back to my original question ~ Define "marriage".