Name: Chunxian Huang
How might we usefully define marriage in universal cross cultural terms? Marriage, which is one of the most vital relationships of human beings, is a bewildering subject in people’s lives because it is hard to define, especially in the cross cultural terms. Cross cultural, according to the fourth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), is defined as “the interaction of differing cultures, or a comparison”. This means that people in cross cultural terms may need to find ways to respect other cultures. In such case, people have chances to understand the other civilization, to make acquaintances with people from multifarious backgrounds and even to have the cross-cultural marriages. Also, it is obvious that different countries, cultures or religions may vary in the definition of marriage and the understanding of marriage perhaps varies from person to person in the cross cultural society, where marriage’s legal definition, religious belief, ceremony are diverse. Moreover, in such circumstances, homosexual marriage, polygamy (someone can be legally married to more than one person at the same time) and DINK (Double Income No Kids) may happen. Therefore, many people argue that marriage is hard to define by law, religion, individual and society because of its “private, varying, complex and changing nature” (Askham, 1984). This essay will argue that marriage helps people create stability in their lives and for the society, thus it can be defined usefully for the general public in respect of cross cultural terms. In order to demonstrate this, this essay will first focus on showing the three main factors of marriage, which are the biological, social and emotional. Then, it will illustrate the common character of the three elements and finally conclude that marriage can be defined usefully by people in the world and they can have shared understanding of marriage. The biological factors of marriage, which are physiological equilibrium and sexual activities in this essay, seem to be the fundamental elements of marriage to most couples. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1903) suggests that, sex or physiological equilibrium, just like water and food, is one of the physiological needs of human beings. Askam (1984) shows that, marriage is constituted of a variety of factors, which include a sexual relationship, accompanying each other and helping each other. It means that when people feel lonely, sad, anger or get sick, which perhaps would cause physiological imbalance, they can seek for comfort and care from their husbands or wives and get rid of physiological imbalance by negative things. Gottman and Silver (1994) illustrate that in a stable marriage, there is a healthy balance between their positive and negative feelings, which is beneficial to the stability of physiology. Therefore, stability is a crucial factor of marriage thus it can be used for defining marriage. Commonly, people tend to relegate sex to the arena of marriage and sex is a common thing of marriage for the majority of spouses. Indeed, some people may argue that people could have sex with those who are not their spouses since people hold more liberal opinions about sex and there is more cohabitation in modern society (Askham, 1984). However, extra-marital or premarital sex is still considered immoral or illegal in some countries and religions. Lucile (1977:54) claimed that “Most societies proscribe sexual relationship outside marriage.” For instance, the Law of Marriage in India (1976) takes fornication as the most primary legal reason to make a divorce sentence. Also, premarital sex is still illegal in Morocco (Vrba, 2012) and according to Gates (2013), it could be punishable by time custodial training under the criminal law in Indonesia in 2013. However, it seems that there are no such laws or religious belief which convicts sexual activity between the married...
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