Although choosing to remain single is more acceptable now than in generations past, the reasons that women get married have not changed much over the course of the past few hundred years. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Women," which stated several key reason why women get married. Chief among these reasons was financial stability, societal expectations and a sense of belonging. Wollstonecraft argued for marriages of equal partnership, a sentiment echoed by women in the modern world who wish to share the joys and responsibilities of modern life with their husbands.
Western societies, through a combination of secular beliefs and religious heritage, hold on to the belief that marriage and the family serve as the fundamental building blocks of a healthy culture. The book "Life Without Father" examines the impact of marriage, arguing that marriage is indispensable to the common good. Women may seek to get married in order to contribute to this idea of family cohesiveness at the heart of a stable community. This may be especially true for those women who want to have children once they are married.
Many women, and men for that matter, are drawn to marriage due to the central role the family plays in many religious traditions. In both the West and the East, marriage and the family play a central role in important religious stories and the organization of the societies developed to mirror them. For example, the family unit of Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus are central to the Christian faith, both in terms of spiritual teachings and as a model for familial and societal organization. Women are encouraged to become wives, and then mothers, as a way to honor their religious traditions and contribute to the local religious community.
An article published in the "Quarterly Journal of Economics" explores the link between financial security and marriage in Western culture. Researchers found that, for both men and women, marriage offers the promise of financial security and stability. Even in the modern age when both husbands and wives commonly work outside the home, marriage offers a financial safety net. By pooling resources and incomes, couples promise to support each other in both prosperous times and times in which money is more of an issue. Marriage signifies that this financial agreement is publicly understood and legally binding.
Feelings of love and cultural or religious expectations aside, women may also get married for more practical reasons. For some women, marriage is a solution to an obstacle. Although not sanctioned by government agencies, some women may get married earlier in a relationship to provide a boyfriend a green card. Some women may get married for comfortable companionship, rather than for overwhelming feelings of love and desire. Unplanned pregnancies also sometimes provide a compelling reason for couples to decide to get married. Cultural anthropologists writing for "The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships" see the impetus for modern marriage ranging from rebellion, to legal considerations, to biological programming and beyond.
Perhaps the most important of all reasons why women get married is the love they feel toward their future husbands. Even when financial, religious, legal or biological considerations factor into a woman's decision to get married, love and the desire to link herself to another are the most important drivers. In every society and in any context, marriage is a declaration of solidarity and a public commitment of love and support of between a husband and wife.
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Based in Seattle, Antonia Lawrence has been writing and editing since 2007. Lawrence has worked and traveled extensively in both Europe and Asia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and French language from Agnes Scott College and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida.