In previous decades, marriage was a means to an end and not as much of a show as it is nowadays. Historically, people married out of social pressure and often lived in loveless marriages for the rest of their lives. Now, with the rise of social media and online dating platforms, we have more options for partners than ever. In the Western world, people tend to work on personal happiness and career development before settling down.
In the 18th century, marriage and love were two entirely different things. Marriage was a political and economic move that helped solve wars, run businesses and keep families financially afloat. Lower class individuals married to find a partner in their trade or business. Upper-class couples married to sign treaties and negotiate political alliances both nationally and internationally.
As we moved into the 1930s, marriage rates in the US fell by a whopping 22%. High unemployment rates meant couples could not afford to start a family, and for the first time in history, women did not work. Couples would marry after as little as six months of knowing each other. Gender stereotypes ruled the marriage institution, making it near impossible to have a loving relationship with your partner.
Thankfully, towards the end of the 20th century, people began to marry for love and sexual attraction. There was still the pressure to tie the knot quickly as an unmarried man or woman was socially undesirable. A divorced or unmarried man would often be denied a promotion because of his relationship status.
Today, divorce is relatively common, and cohabitation is the logistical step before marriage. Previously, divorce was out of the question and socially unacceptable for many couples. In the 21st century, divorce is a get-out clause for many couples and a way to end an unhappy marriage. Despite nearly 50% of marriages ending in divorce today, divorce rates have actually diminished since the 1980s.
In 2021, singletons use dating apps to find a partner while working on their careers, education and financial wellbeing. There is less pressure to get married immediately and much longer courtships. Couples can take their time in getting to know each other, live together and then decide if they want to commit to one another. Many people opt out of marriage altogether because they do not want to conform to previous societal standards or risk getting divorced.
Weddings are no longer political or economic exchanges but instead a special event to celebrate love. Some couples enjoy an intimate ceremony, and others throw a huge party to showcase their love. Weddings rings are an essential part of any wedding, and often an item couples choose together. Marriage has transformed into an equal partnership of love, fulfilment and sexual attraction.