Marriage – History, duties and the dowry

Many people call their wedding day the most beautiful day of their lives, but how did this tradition come about? Spoiler: the history of the marriage had no romantic background.

The history of marriage

Marriage originated in the Middle Ages, it was done to bind two people together sexually (monogamy). This also prevented the spread of venereal diseases. So the marriage had no romantic background.

Forms of marriage

The most common form of marriage is between a man and a woman. We also have various other forms of marriage:

  • Gay marriage – two people of the same sex
  • Polygyny – one man with multiple wives
  • Polyandry – one woman with several men
  • Group marriage – multiple men with multiple wives

The Netherlands was the first country to allow same-sex marriage, several other countries have since followed, but in most countries this form of marriage is prohibited.

Rights and obligations during marriage

Marriage also brings with it some rights and obligations. So you owe each other help and you must be faithful to each other. You are obliged to support each other financially, to maintain and raise the children. Household costs are distributed proportionally to income. This obligation can be deviated from in a prenuptial agreement. You can also get married under “general community of property.” This means that all your property belongs to you together.
To get married, both partners must be at least 18 years old. However, if the woman is pregnant or has already had a child, this age can be lowered to 16 years.


In some countries, the bride’s parents are obliged to give their daughter a so-called dowry. The size of the treasure is determined through negotiations between the parents of the bride and the groom. The higher the groom’s prestige, the higher the dowry he will demand. You can imagine that families sometimes have to go into debt to pay the dowry.
The terrible consequences of the existence of this phenomenon are the following:

  • Women are murdered by their husbands so that the man can remarry and collect a new dowry.
  • Girls are murdered at birth. Men make money later, women only cost.


Wedding anniversaries

There are different ‘anniversaries’, for example the silver and golden wedding.

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