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The Functions of Marriage: Why Does Marriage Exist?

Silver wedding rings
In the last post, I talked about marriage, and how marriage differs around the world. Now, I’d like to talk about the functions of marriage, meaning what the purpose of marriage is and what it does for society. Since marriage is almost a universal thing, it’s probably useful to society somehow. This post will talk a little about some of the uses of marriage.
So why do people get married? What are the functions of marriage?
A woman's and man's hands holding a baby's feet
First of all, marriage helps provide for children. It creates family relationships that help provide what children need. Children are dependent on adults for at least the first 10 years of their life for their material needs. This includes food, housing, and protection. Children are also dependent on adults for their psychological development and to help them learn their culture. So, one function of marriage is to assign responsibility for childcare.
Second, marriage helps to organize labor. It creates a household unit where members take on different tasks. Dividing up work is called the division of labor, and usually, men and women do different kinds of tasks. But, they all contribute to the running of the household. So, marriage helps all the daily work get done.
Functions of Marriage. Image of two gold wedding rings on a white pillow with a pink bow
Third, marriage creates social and political relationships between families. Because of marriage, two partners now have more allies—their in-laws. Many cultures create trade relationships or political alliances with these new relatives. So, marriage helps create new important relationships where people can work together and share resources.
Fourth, marriage helps regulate adult sexual activity. Conflicts could occur if everyone had sexual access to everyone else. As a result, societies channel sexual activity into relatively stable marriage relationships. That way, both spouses have a monopoly on each other’s sexuality. So, marriage helps prevent conflicts over sexual access.

Learn More

As you can see from these examples, marriage has important functions in society. Want to learn more about the functions of marriage? Check out this page on Functions of Marriage from Lumen Learning.
Thanks for reading!