Essay, Pages 3 (711 words)
Stephanie Coontz’s essay on “The Radical Idea of Marrying for Love” demonstrates her opinion that the expectations of marriage are unrealistic based on George Bernard Shaw’s theory. Shaw believed that marriage was “an institution that brings together two people ‘under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive and most transient of passions’” (qtd. In Coontz 378). According to Coontz, “For most of history it was inconceivable that people would choose their mates on the basis of something as fragile and irrational as love…”(378).
The successful marriage
But, if not for love, what would be the point of marrying someone? Without love, there is no basis for a successful marriage. Although there are many things that factor into making the decision of getting married, love is the most important. Marrying for any other reason without love is grounds for an unstable relationship. If a person was to enter into a marriage on the grounds of financial purposes as their primary reason, what would keep them there if their partner was to go bankrupt or become ill and unable to maintain the same financial stability that they were used to?
The marital vows are written the way they are to ensure that when problems arise, nothing and no one can interfere with the love between a man and his wife.
Coontz also states that in the historic societies which did accept and condone a married couple being in love, it came along after the couple had been married as if they grew to love each other over time.
Even in these instances, society had a strict hold on what was and/or wasn’t appropriate behavior for a married couple.
The love for one’s spouse was not to exceed that of which was for their family, or God. In China the parents of the groom could force their son to divorce his wife if they did not agree with her ways, even if he was in love with her. The word love in Chinese was used to describe “an illicit, socially disapproved relationship” (379). Love was like a punishment instead of the beautiful thing that it really is.
Marrying for love in Europe
During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in Europe, adultery was the greatest display of love amongst the aristocrats. The Countess of Champagne felt that it was “impossible for true love to ‘exert its powers between two people who are married to each other’” (379). If love could not be between a man and his wife, then the marriage is a mockery before God, for it is a sacred vow to love and honor one another until death do you part.
Even today, many cultures disapprove of marrying for love. They believe that love will come later if you get married for the “right” reasons. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, European families decided for their children who they would marry and who was worth “learning to love. ” Coontz felt that it was not that people today have less control over their hearts than people of the past but more so that “…love in marriage was seen as a bonus, not a necessity” (380-381).
Coontz was quite successful in proving her point throughout this essay, and if someone who had never been in love, or had not formed an opinion on valid reasons for getting married was to read this they would most likely agree with her reasoning. She thoroughly researched the topic and used several historic instants and quotes throughout her work. There were many points that proved that marrying for love was not the most important factor to consider when choosing a spouse.
However, a person who knows how powerful love is, and has married because they were in love knows that there is no greater feeling than to spend your life with someone you truly love and cherish. To be married to someone you love is to have a partner, someone to share the good times as well as the bad, to encourage you when times get tough. To support and comfort you when you need it and even when you don’t. Love is the foundation of marriage, or any relationship between two people, and without it, there is nothing to hold them together.