Marriage as a social institution is affected by various factors. The factors affecting marriage can be both internal and external to the individuals.
Major Factors Affecting Marriage:
- Marriage legislation
Industrialization is the process of moving from an agrarian-based economy in which the primary product is food to an industrial economy in which the primary product is goods, services, and information. The process of changing from a manual labor force to a technology-driven labor force in which machines play a large role is known as industrialization.
Before industrialization and during its early phase, the choice of partners for marriage was determined by economic considerations leaving little or no room for romantic love. The aim of marriage in the pre-industrial society was determined as follows;
- Among the upper classes, marriages were done to increase landholdings through dowries and patrimony (ancestral property) or consolidate political power through tying knot with the powerful social class and with the aim of preserving bloodlines.
- But among the lower classes, marriage was necessary as a survival method and therefore, men often chose wives on the basis of their potential skills as well as their reproductive capacities. For e.g. farmers needed strong women who could help with labor in the field and in household and sell products in the local market. Artisans needed partners who could help with their craft, and often chose wives from families of the same occupation.
- There might have been romantic love to choose a partner but parents and other kin actually would not support this form of marriage because of its negative effects on economic part of life.
- Because marriage involved so many economic and familial considerations, couples wedding at a late age through the beginning of the 19th Century. On the average men married at about age twenty-nine, and women at about twenty-six. Many couples married only after one or both of their parents had died.
Gradually with the development of industrialization and capitalism in the 19 century, the restrictions on marriage started to loosen despite economic concerns still exits. The effect, factors of industrialization affecting on marriage could be observed as follows;
- In certain circumstances, industrial wage labor encouraged early marriage because the contributions of a wife and children could increase chances for survival or a higher standard of living. But in other circumstances low wages made marriage impossible as they could never afford to marry or have a family.
- Some united and had children without wedding.
- Migration resulting from industrial change also disrupted marriage patterns. Studies have shown that young people rarely migrated alone which means that they migrated with their spouse.
- Marital endogamy prevails to a large extent as people marry (married) those who were from similar occupations or similar origins, whether they are geographically displaced or not. So, marriage continue to be the product of survival more than the result of romantic love.
Urbanization is also one of the factors affecting the marriage. It is the societal trend where the proportion of people living in cities increases due to the population shift from rural to urban residency and also the gradual increase in the population of cities through other forms of migration. Urbanization incorporates social, political, and economic change as well.
Marriage as an institution has traditionally been embedded and linked with the institution of caste in both rural and urban areas of Nepal. Marriages have been contracted to keep the caste or jati endogamy in mind. Each caste and community from different religions follow different rules and regulations. However, the impacts (Effects) of urbanization has deterred the rules and patterns of marriage to a great extent as follows:
- A ‘new concept of wifehood’ (i.e. emphasis on ‘conjugal relationship’) has emerged where male and female live together without legally being married. This is also called as ‘living relationship.‘
- Age at marriage has increased as in urban context both man and woman prefer late marriage due to career building and/or economic constraints.
- The endogamy has been disrupted and exogamy is increasing.
- In some cities of developed countries, the gay and lesbian marriages have taken place.
- The consequence of urbanization is also seen in fertility rate as the married couples tend to reproduce less children due to economic burden and lack of time.
- The individualism in cities and growing economic independence of women have also promoted divorce rates.
- The practice of love (romantic affairs) marriage has exceed traditional arranged marriages.
- The marriage types such as court marriage is also common in city areas.
- Influence of various technologies and networking sites have made easier of finding mates.
Education is a social institution through which a society’s children are taught basic academic knowledge, learning skills, and cultural norms. Education as an institution has also one of the factors affecting marriage patterns.
The effects of education on marriage can be discussed as below;
- With higher education achievement, the males and females are less concerned on endogamy (marriage within one’s own caste group) and therefore engage in exogamy. The reasons include the advantage of healthy hybrids and affection (love) over caste.
- The economic independency accompanying education has made the new generations less concerned on family’s duty of finding a mate. So, self-decision is more prominent regarding the choice and finding a mate.
- If the wealth and status of the partner is good enough, then the parents also give their consent and cooperation to marriage, ignoring caste differences.
- The highly educated women is more likely to delay marriage.
- Studies show that there is an inverse relationship between the level of education and fertility. Couples who were more educated tend to have fewer children.
Legislation is a law or set of laws that are made to fulfill the social needs of the people.
What one must know is that as the social needs change, so must the legislation. The legislation gives legal recognition to any institutions (such as marriage, family, kinship).
Regarding marriage, the legislation in many societies and nations has changed over time and consequently led to change in marriage patterns. The laws enacted on various aspects of marriage according to the Nepal Marriage Act 1971 include;
- Restriction on Bigamy.
- Restriction on Child marriage.
- Provision on widow marriage and rights of inheritence. The constitution of Nepal 2072/2015 ensures the widows’ rights to inheritance and their entitlement to social security.
- Restriction on illegal Marriage.
- Age of marrigae has been legalized for 20 years for both of the sexes.
- Restriction on Daijo, Bride groom side shall neighter compell bride side to give cash, goods, daijo, donation, gifts, fairwell gift, etc.