A marriage has two components … the civil and the spiritual. In order for a marriage to be recognized as legal by the government, certain things must exist in order for the marriage to be recognized. These are the same conditions that are required for any contract to be valid:
(1) mutual assent by two or more persons to an exchange of promises (bilateral contract) or to an exchange of a promise for performance (unilateral contract), (2) a consideration, and (3) competency of all parties.
In a marriage, the mutual assent is between two parties, a man and a woman. The Questions of Intent are still often included in a wedding ceremony. These were originally in the ceremony, when established about 400 years ago, to make sure that both persons were there of their own free will and knew and agreed to the purpose of the wedding.
In order for the contract to be legal, both parties must be competent … there must not be any suggestion of prejudice. This is why ministers are permitted to refuse to perform a ceremony if he or she has reason to believe that either or both are impaired by drugs or alcohol. Marriage is a serious contract. And, marriage should be respected. Therefore, when either the bride or groom arrives defective by drugs or alcohol, there is a very clear possibility that they can claim, later on, that they did not really know what they were doing at that time, and may seek to void the marriage contract.
The consideration: Each party must receive something of value in return for giving something of value. This should be more thoroughly explored by the bride and groom long before the wedding. What is the consideration each is giving the other? Respect? Faithfulness? Love? Employment? Children? Emotional Support? Be there in sickness as well as in health?
I had a conversation with a lady today who has been married for two years. They co-habited for seven years before they married. She told me how her husband had changed after the wedding. This is not unusual. Everyone has different expectations of what marriage is about. And, somehow, each expect the other to know and have the same expectations? Psychic? Do not think so. These things must be discussed in detail before the wedding.
Co-habiting does not have any legal or formal requirements for the relationship … each one can walk out without the pain of divorce … but, marriage brings in new expectations, responsibilities and privileges. Do you have clear understanding of what your expected expects in marriage? If not, you should begin talking soon.
Marriage is an honorable institution, and should be approached with respect, anticipation and a sense of responsibility … and, communication is essential. Also, seeking the wisdom of others will save future pain.
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