Definition Essay – Ashley de Mange


Marriage by definition is a social union between people that creates kinship.  It is commonly thought of as simply a romantic commitment between two people, but it is so much more than that.  Marriage is a legal and financial agreement as well.  Such a commitment is composed of business and economical transactions. In order to formalize a marriage, the two individuals who wish to create the union typically do so via a wedding ceremony, which is also called matrimony.  Once a marriage has been instituted, the two people involved are held to several legal obligations.  So what would actually motivate someone to commit to a marriage?

Marriage is not a premise for two people living together and having a relationship.  Often, the reasoning behind why two people choose to get married or not has a lot to do with finances and the economy.  In certain situations, couples living together do not wish to be recognized as married, on the grounds that pension or alimony rights from a previous marriage are negatively affected.  However, in many countries today, each marriage partner has the choice of keeping his or her property separate or combining properties. If a couple does choose to combine property, called community property, when the marriage ends by divorce each persons owns half.  Marriage typically leads to the formation of a new household comprising the married couple in the same home.  When two people commit to a marriage, they agree to share income, housing and commonly other daily activities like cooking dinner.

Marriage laws vary throughout the world, but commonly it is not so that just any two people can get married.  Restrictions from age, to race, to social status, to consanguinity, to gender are placed on marriage by society for reasons of passing on healthy genes, benefiting the children, maintaining cultural values or just because of prejudice and fear.  Societies have commonly placed restrictions on marriage to relatives, as such social unions between parents and children or between siblings have been regarded as incest and are forbidden.  This is a requisite law as marriage between relatives is immoral and could lead to inbreeding, which commonly results in offspring having birth defects and receiving deleterious traits.  But why are there restrictions and laws that are in place that, in reality, are not protecting anyone from harm or danger?  For example, same-sex marriage is illegal, as it is not identified or recognized by the federal government.  Same-sex marriage is recognized at state law though, as several states offer alternative legal certifications that at least acknowledge same-sex relationships.  These laws give marriage-like rights to these couples, and are referred to as domestic partnerships or civil unions.  It’s apparent that marriage is not a right to all, but rather a privilege given to certain people mandated by the government.

Just as the economy greatly affects businesses, it affects marriages as well.  A 2002 Census Bureau Wealth Study found that the median net worth of married-couple households was $101,975. For single men, median wealth was $23,700 and for single women, $20,217.  In fact, a 15-year study of 9,000 people found that, during that time, people who married and stayed married built up nearly twice the net worth of people who stayed single.  In general, people who are married and stay married build tremendously more wealth than single people, making marriage a decent business relationship in itself.

Works Cited:

The Economics of Love and Marriage

Marriage is a Business

Wikipedia contributors. “Marriage law.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 Feb. 2012. Web. 8 Mar. 2012.

Marriage Law

Wikipedia contributors. “Marriage.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Mar. 2012. Web. 8 Mar. 2012.


Wikipedia contributors. “Same-sex marriage in the United States.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 Mar. 2012. Web. 8 Mar. 2012.

Same-Sex Marriage

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1 Response to Definition Essay – Ashley de Mange

  1. davidbdale says:

    My first thought, Ashley, is that adoption is also “a social union between people that creates kinship.” Any definition that flexible is probably not sufficient.

    *economic transactions.

    Before I get too far into your essay, I get the distinct sense you haven’t quite grasped the point of the essay, Ashley. I wish you had asked for feedback earlier. It does need to define your terms, but in the context of your overall essay. Maybe you’ll get to it later, but so far, this essay seems to be doing nothing but laying out a wikipedia-style definition of marriage. It needs to be an essay that stands on its own and can later be incorporated into your longer essay.

    Now at the end, I see why wikipedia came to mind. Where is the academic research, Ashley?

    The writing is good enough to give me confidence you’re capable of much more than this first effort, Ashley, but you need to step up soon and show me what you can do.

    The paragraph about building net worth will probably be useful to your overall thesis about couples staying together during hard economic times, but except for that, I don’t see much of value here for your long paper. (And it doesn’t work on its own terms as a compelling essay either.) At the very least, the discussion of economics should be written so as to indicate that the business angle of marriage might be a primary reason to stay together even in times of stress, or loss of love.


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