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Love or Marriage

Ernest van den Haag in, “Love or Marriage”, looks at the intrinsic variance between love and marriage. Demonstrating key social and religious aspects he examines civilizations perception of each at points in history and concludes that both love and marriage are two very different types of emotional bonds that our society has come to confuse. Van den Haag argues that failed marriages are often a result of this confusion and that one should not be a motivation for the other. He believes that love and marriage are analogous to desire and fulfillment and acknowledges that they are similar – but very different. Within the institution of legally recognized marriage and through sexual gratification, love is replaced by other emotions, such as gratitude and tenderness, but ultimately develops into, what Van den Haag calls, marital affection. Being a gay man, I find myself evaluating his ideas about marriage with remote alienation. How does Van den Haag’s model of love and marriage apply to someone who cannot legally marry? If we were to take his model literally, and impose it upon a long-term stable homosexual relationship the gay man would have love and desire but never fulfillment or affection because he cannot marry. I admit this is a hyperbole. A form of emotional or emblematic marriage can still progress, without the legal and social endorsement. It is in this progression where my alienation becomes inclusion. Gay men, in a society that does not sanction their relationships, are not obligated to subscribe to the legal or religious institution of marriage. They are not forced to exist, as companions, with the weight of religious and social duty to burden them. They are able to transcend the technicalities that often restrain traditional heterosexual couples from expressing truthful emotional desire. This freedom allows us the chance to be more honest and candid with our companion, but more importantly...

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