By Bwire Oscar Paul
Marriage is defined differently by different people based on cultural, religious and personal considerations.
To some, it is a formal union and legal contract between two individuals of either sex and unites their lives legally.
This means that a couple has legal obligations towards each other throughout their lives or until the time they decide to divorce.
Being married also gives legitimacy to sexual relations. Any kind of relationship that is not registered as marriage under the act of marriage cannot be defined as one.
The popularity of marriage is waning in contemporary culture.
Today, divorce is a lot more socially acceptable. There is a lot of media influence, hunting the perceived benefits for single parents and the fact that it is an easier process than before.
The notion that marriage is the best answer to the deep human desire for connection and belonging is incredibly seductive.
However, the advantages previously associated with marriage such as tax distribution, financial support, share of roles and children stability are no longer relevant in many circumstances.
Probably marriage is less popular because some people are not ready to make a commitment to their partners and prefer focusing on their careers first.
They will also cohabit as a trial run. With cohabitating they get to experience what it would be like to live with the person and if they don’t get on well, they can easily walk away.
If married and they want to part ways, they will have to get a divorce which is quite a complicated legal process. The cost for divorce is expensive too.
In most communities, marriage made a lot of sense and was sacred with our predecessors, mostly when women didn’t have the same roles and rights as men. They were effectively private property (a societal legacy that still influences marriage).
Women did not have access to formal workplaces so they needed financial security whereas men had income but needed heirs and the exchange was simple.
We have come a long way and both genders enjoy equal rights and roles at the workplace leaving no guarantee for division of roles.
Weddings have become expensive, and so is the pain of moving on after an unsuccessful marriage. Some people simply cannot afford the enormous financial risk that is involved in getting married.
There are also instances where some do not feel comfortable linking their finances to another individual potentially due to credit, tax considerations and inheritance.
Marriage makes sense with kids but not for the reason that two-parent homes are better for children rearing.
It doesn’t really mean that parents have to be married to raise kids.
School achievements and behavior among children of either married or unmarried parents depend on how they are brought up and nothing else, keeping all the other factors constant.
Marital status therefore has no effect on the development of children.
The argument for legally married parents is that there is always a need for one to stay at home which is the basis of conflicts in the modern world.
Some ladies feel they have their own ambitions to fulfill unlike in the past where they acted as housewives.
These days a happy marriage requires serious commitment of time and energy that can be hard to maintain.
That is why individuals who can invest enough time and energy in their partnership are seeing the desired benefits.
However, this works out with consistency and patience as many have previously ended up going separate ways regardless of the time invested together.
The fact that good marriages require more time and effort than ever before is further validated by divorce rates between wealthy couples and their less affluent counterparts who spend most of their time on work. A good example is Bill Gates’ case.
Looked at differently, lower income couples get divorced more and part of the blame lays in the lack of resources and other material belongings.
For nearly every couple, with marriage comes the potential for a divorce.
Due to this, some people have opted for an alternative to marriage -civil union or domestic partnership.
Overall, marriage is no longer popular as the rate of married people continues to decelerate with increased amount of cohabitation.
However, marriage is still important to some people as many are getting married due to their religion or their cultural traditions although not in high numbers as before. Perhaps marriage will not die out soon.
Mr Bwire is a communications student, University of Nairobi. His contact: firstname.lastname@example.org