Did people marry more for love in the past than nowadays?Is the following statement true? People used to give their hearts when they joined their hands in marriage, but these days they give each...

Did people marry more for love in the past than nowadays?

Is the following statement true? People used to give their hearts when they joined their hands in marriage, but these days they give each other their hands without hearts.

Expert Answers
William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an awfully general question which seems to cover all the people in the world--something like seven billion of them. From what I know about people of the past and people living in other parts of the world, I would say that very many used to get married without giving their hearts. For example, there were many places in which marriages were "arranged" by parents and where the groom didn't even meet the bride until they were standing at the altar. We know from our reading that many fathers in many countries would give or sell their daughters to a man without the girls' knowledge or consent. Many of these marriages were not only loveless but hateful for the poor girls involved.

In America there have always been loveless marriages. Women married for money or for other practical or mercenary reasons. Since women have more options now, it could be hypothesized that more of them marry for love and more give their hearts away when they get married. The same should be true for men.

Henry James wrote some interesting novels about marriage in his day, including Portrait of a Lady, Washington Square, The Ambassadors, and The Wings of the Dove. August Strindberg published a very insightful collection of tales about marriage with the title (in English) of Getting Married. Marriage in the old days was not all that romantic. Look at the opening of Shakespeare's King Lear. Also the play Getting Married by satirist George Bernard Shaw. And then, of course, there are all those novels by Jane Austen which have a lot to say about the various aspects of marriage in her day.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I remember that when I was young at least half the movies and half the popular songs were about love. They still are today. I believe all of us teenagers thought that love was something that was just going to happen to us someday, and I guess most of us were looking forward to it although we didn't know what it was. I believe a lot of people "fall in love" because they want to fall in love and hope to fall in love and expect to fall in love and finally think they are in love. But a lot of them wake up to find that what they thought was love was what the French call a folie-a-deux. He loves her because he thinks she loves him, and she loves him because she thinks he loves her. Falling in love is wonderful--but falling out of love is one of the most painful experiences of life. I would offer this advice to young people: Don't be misled by all the talk about love, love, love on television, in the movies, in the tabloids, and in popular music. It isn't that common. It isn't that durable, either.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The funny thing is that most people still get married, regardless of the reason. It is as if marriage, or a marital-type relationship, is a natural part of life, just like parenthood. These things happen to us as time goes by. "Woman needs man, and man must have his mate. On that you can rely." Maybe it isn't love but something in the genes that makes people want to form marital attachments when they reach a certain stage of life. I have noted that even homosexuals, both males and females, tend to form marital-type attachments. And now, of course, homosexuals are agitating to have legalized, formalized marriages. They will get it. They have already gotten it in some states. When two women form a marital-type relationship, it is frequently observed that one of them will have a baby, either via in vitae fertilization or the old-fashioned way with some accommodating male. Reproduction is encoded in the genes, and maybe permanent mating is likewise encoded, programmed, hard-wired in all of us.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

People used to have long engagements, and they were married for life because divorce was very difficult. Couples got to know each other better before they were married. Now the tendency is to get to know each other after marriage. The world was smaller in the old days. People married people they had known since childhood. The majority of people had modest expectations. They just wanted a house and a few kids with a secure income. Movies and television have had a negative impact on marriage. So has advertising. Many married people think they have made a mistake which can be corrected fairly easily just by getting a divorce and finding a new partner. Romantic love doesn't last. Familiarity tends to breed contempt. People live a lot longer. How can two people stay in love for fifty or sixty years? A few do. They must be ideally matched psychologically.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't agree with that statement.

I think that today it is the norm that people at least "think" that they are marrying for love. Unfortunately, I believe we often mistake love for infatuation, or we often fail to transition from the early phase of love to the next step, which is more of a partnership than a mutual "crush." The resulting break-ups and divorces may give the impression that the pair didn't marry for love when, in fact, they didn't understand that long term love is an evolving, developing state of heart and mind.

In former times, marriages were often arranged based on the needs of the family, social status, or parental decisions. People generally don't worry too much about parental approval anymore.

litlady33 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I would say that people marry for love more now than ever. In past centuries and even decades, people married because of social status. They knew that certain suitors were good for their image and their families encouraged them to marry these people. On the other hand, if people in the past were in love with someone who was too far below their social status, it was taboo and frowned upon, so they didn't get married regardless of the fact that they were in love. These days, especially in America, there isn't the same kind of pressure to get married. It is acceptable to stay single for life, or to have a partnership without marriage. Therefore, people don't get married if they aren't in love because there is no need for it.
trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

People over the ages have married for various reasons. Sometimes, it was for monetary reasons--the person was a "good catch" or had higher social standing. Sometimes, people were married in an arranged match due to their cultural or religious background. People married because the girl became pregnant and family pressures forced them to marry. It really depends on the culture you are examining as to reasons for why people married. Of course, people married for love if that was an option, and they still do. However, there are a plethora of reasons as to why people marry.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We talking about America here?  If so, it would be very hard to argue that people marry less for love today.  For example, in the past, there were many more marriages between men of higher class and education and women of lower.  These were in some ways economic transactions in which the women were not seen as equal partners in the marriage.  Today, we expect spouses to be partners in all ways.  To me, this is evidence that marriage today is more for love than it used to be.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If we are looking at this question from a wide historical viewpoint, then I would say that people definitely marry more for love than ever before in history.  Like post #4 points out, marriage is more about a relationship now and less like a business transaction.  Just the idea of partner choice, rather than an arranged marriage, suggests that marriages have much more to do with hearts and hands than say, pocketbooks, cattle, and property holdings. 

nour-angle | Student

Most of people used to look for origins or we can say roots of the partner who you get marry with. As a result, they build strong family and they believe that the love comes after whether the conditions are provided. Nowadays people are more interested of object than love although they seem to be loved. 

arushi241994 | Student

i believe  these days people seek a lot of things too other than love for marriage for instance social status, financial security etc. It is quiet evident that love is surely not the basic foundation of the institution of marriage seing the divorce rate nowadays. the defination of love has changed over the decades what used to be known as love earlier may be known as boundations today. hence due to the complexity of the topic the argument can go on endlessly

suzannah304 | Student

It's not about the past or the present. Marriage is a strong bond between two individuals. But it;s meaning has changed lately. It doesn't follow everyone but nowadays people are more towards money than love. People even price love. How can love have any price? It is priceless. In the past the people were more after finding their love, but today money has become the 1st priority to everyone. so it's less about love and more about other stuff in marriages nowadays.

rohankapoor | Student


rohankapoor | Student

money matters

rohankapoor | Student

it has to be chang

rohankapoor | Student

it has to be changed

rohankapoor | Student

love has no value nowadays...

cookie-gurl | Student

There are so many ways to answer this, because some married for love, others for wealth it just depended on where in the world. Arranged marriages you learned to love that person you didn't really get a say.


sunithasrivastava | Student

'Love is blind'- a love which is pure doesn't see the person is having bank balance, status in the society or a strong(moneywise) family background.

Marriages which are arranged see all the above factors before they meet the parents of the bride or bridegroom. From the bridegroom side they want to confirm that the bride's parents flow in lot of hard cash, jewellry, cars etc.And bride's parents want to confirm that after giving so much whether their daughter will be like a princess or not?(in Indian context)

If we talk about love marriages now a days the girl makes sure that the boy with whom she is dating is having pocket which is heavy then she may think of marriage. Whereas a boy makes sure that the girl with whom he is dating is also working so that income can doubled.

I feel, we rarely find a couple for whom all the materialistic world is very less important than their love which pure in their heart. For them, standing for each other at odd life situation is the prime importance. 

thisperson123 | Student

In the past, there were many more arranged marriages that would likely benefit someone (probably not the wife).

hadjartahax | Student

I think in the past they married for the love, could be sometimes that they would marry for the money or because the person is from the higher class. Nowadays I believe people marry without really loving the person. But that's not always the case. Quite a hard question.

homin007 | Student

I also believe there are more love marriages today even in developing, traditional societies like mine, than in the past. Indeed, one can justify this with data as far as we are concerned here.

najm1947 | Student

I agree with most of the content of post 10 by Williambred. We have to think about the changes in value system of our society which is bringing about a negative evolution from humans to animals, rather worse. Otherwise, we may meet fate of the people of Lot - a destruction that the world has not seen a second time so far.

williambred | Student

I don't agree with most of the previous opinions since I believe that nowadays most of people marry just to have sex and to meet their sexual needs. Otherwise, how do you explain the increasing number of divorce and mothers (unmarried ones), and children with unknown fathers. Do you call this love?? How can we define love (just having sex)??. I believe that marriages of the past were more succeful even if they were not perfct. Do you think homosexuality is something that could be tolerated?? aren't homosehuals distructing our society?? We should go back to nature to see how it functions, but we are not animals, we are humans with a great brain but it's pity that sometimes we behave in very distructing manners. I am not angry, just feel unhappy about a society in wich my children will grow up one day.

najm1947 | Student

Marriage is some thing that is changing its meaning in different cultures and different segments of society. In west it seems to be a norm to live together, may be also have children and then if you feel like after a good number of years get married. If you look at celebrities, they marry and divorce. The divorce rate had gone very high but due to the recent trend of 'living together' without getting married, it seems to have lowered - reason no marriage no divorce. At times it appears that the institution of marriage is dying.

There has also been something called arranged marriges in the past but this trend is also on the decline and people like to choose their partners by themselves. In Pakistan and India it was a norm and most of the marriages were contracted like that but even there the things have changed now. 

So it is very hard to make a historic comparison. And as far as the marriage for love is concerned, probably love is also changing its meaning. It is hard to say whether it is love or lust looking at the failed marriages, separated 'living together' partners and growing number of single mother.

It is a real difficult question to answer.

kavya--kammana | Student

before it was only rare case. but now many are giving hands without hearts.but we cant say that all of them are like that. we can just comment that a huge increase in this mentality has occured.there are also people who dedicate them in marriage and consider it as a good one.