MANDY FLYNN: Sealed with a kiss

FEATURES COLUMN: The institution of marriage has been an interesting ride through the centuries

Mandy Flynn

Mandy Flynn

Twenty-three years ago today, I walked down a patch of green grass next to a lake and promised to take this man who is now my husband. It was hot and threatening rain, but I didn’t care. We were happy. Twenty-three years later, we still are and every day I am thankful.

There wasn’t much I could think to say about my better half that I haven’t said at least a hundred times before – he’s a great husband, he’s an awesome father, he’s handsome, he’s the coolest, most intelligent person I know. (He can pay me later for that last one.) Instead of going through all those obvious things again, I decided to take a historical, factual approach to marriage. From kissing cousins to the crime, marriage through the years has been quite an interesting ride.

Due to work, children, television, the Internet, hobbies, and home and family responsibilities, the average married couple spends just four minutes a day alone together. Side note: They must not have polled SEC fans during football season. Between the pre-game, the actual game, the three day discussions with friends of what went wrong after the game, the Thursday night featured game, and then the preview before the preview of the actual game, I bet it’s 1.5 minutes, at best.

Traditionally, bridesmaids would be dressed in similar bridelike gowns to confuse rival suitors, evil spirits and robbers. Some scholars trace the word “bride” to the Proto-Indo-European root bru, “to cook, brew, make broth.”

Hammurabi’s Code (ca. 1790 B.C.), an ancient Babylonian law code, contains some of the oldest known and recorded marriage laws. According to the Code, a man could divorce his wife if she could not bear children or of she was a “gadabout” who humiliated her husband in public and neglected her house. Additionally, she could be “pitched” in a river if she committed adultery.

A marriage ceremony typically ends with a kiss because in ancient Rome a kiss was a legal bond that sealed contracts, and marriage was seen as a contract. It is estimated that the majority of marriages throughout history were between first and second cousins. One 19th century New York legislator insisted that letting married women own their own property attacked both God and Nature.

Words form only 7 percent of our communication with anyone, including spouses. Tone of voice accounts for 38 percent and body language is responsible for 55 percent of the messages spouses receive from each other. Birth order can influence whether a marriage succeeds or fails. The most successful marriages are those where the oldest sister of brothers marries the youngest brother of sisters. Two firstborns, however, tend to be more aggressive and can create higher levels of tension. The highest divorce rates are when an only child marries another only child. Side note: My husband is the third of four children and I am fifth of sixth. Not sure what that means, but it must work.

In ancient Sparta, men who were unmarried by the time they were 30 forfeited the right to vote. Until 1912, if a woman in the UK committed a crime in her husband’s presence, he was legally considered to have coerced her into doing it.

And, last but not least, marriage involves at least 1,138 federal benefits and responsibilities.

All this to say … happy anniversary to my love of 23-plus years. May we still be celebrating 23 years from today. Hey, maybe now that I know what the word “bride” means, I’ll cook you some broth to celebrate.

It comes in a can, right?

Email columnist Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.