The institute of marriage is changing with the times, adopting new positive and negative associations. Currently, some of the main discussions are the access to marriage among gay couples, the idea of marriage in the eyes of the law and religion, and the traditions surrounding proposals and weddings. While it is challenging to predict what will happen to marriage in the next fifty years, it is possible that marriage will become more available to people, and its place in one’s life will be more mundane rather than sacred.
First, the idea of marriage equality often concerns gay couples, but several scholars suggest talking about the role of marriage as a whole in creating equal relationships and establishing gender roles. Den Otter (2018) argues that profound changes in the institution of marriage are vital for providing people with freedom and focusing on the idea that marriage is a union built on mutual trust and love. Here, one goes beyond the limitations of hetero- and homosexual relationships – this distinction is not helpful when discussing marriage, whereas people’s love and equality are essential. Love here is described as not only sexual or romantic but friendship-based. Thus, Den Otter (2018) finds that marriages are likely to become a way of agreeing to share responsibilities and treat one another as members of a strong and committed team.
Another interesting finding suggests that marriage is going to change under the influence of increasing crises. Guetto et al. (2020) investigate the effect of COVID-19 on marriage and cohabitation and find that the former loses its value compared to the latter. Thus, in times of uncertainty, traditions and ceremonies may lose their meaning, being replaced by convenience, comfort, and flexibility. As marriage is often associated with significant spending (especially for the ceremony and celebration), many couples do not find it appealing (Guetto et al., 2020). As a result, marriage can be largely stripped of these connotations to stay relevant to the growing generations’ needs.
To conclude, marriage has been changing under the influence of new generations and their evolving values. One of the trends in the growing access to marriage for all partners who want to commit to their union. This direction can move forward, allowing people to get married not because of romantic love but because of their mutual desire to be together. Furthermore, marriage is likely to lose the traditions attached to it, especially with growing uncertainty that leaves many people without financial security.
Den Otter, R. C. (2018). The uncertain future of marriage. Contemporary Political Theory, 19(S1), S7-S13.
Guetto, R., Vignoli, D., & Bazzani, G. (2020). Marriage and cohabitation under uncertainty: The role of narratives of the future during the COVID-19 pandemic. European Societies, 123(S1), S674-S688.