Table of contents:
- Both under renovation and on vacation
- First wedding vows
- The legacy of ancestors
- New times - new customs
Our columnist Yekaterina Popova explains when the traditional wedding vow came about and why a marriage based on it won't last long.
Both under renovation and on vacation
At the end of July 2021, the SETTERS communication agency and the Violence.net center (included in the register of non-profit organizations) launched a flash mob “Both in repair and on vacation” on social networks. Its creators offer people under the hashtag # I swear to you to "rebuild" the usual wedding promises, including new ones: for example, respect other people's boundaries and not try to remake a spouse.
“Sometimes the abuse is hidden behind a very beautiful outer shell: gifts, lush phrases. The project "Both in repair and on vacation" for us is about the fact that healthy relationships are not words, but respect for the other and reflection, attention to the feelings of the other, "says Diana Barseghyan, deputy director of the center" Violence.net ".
So far, there are few new wedding vows under the tag, and most of them are more funny than corresponding to the seriousness of Diana's words.
Monetochka took part in the flash mob, and her promises, perhaps more than others, reflect the meaning of the action.
Psychotherapy, personal space - it all sounds very modern. But do such promises really need to be included in a traditional wedding vow?
First wedding vows
We are used to the words "I swear to be with you in sorrow and in joy, in wealth and in poverty, in illness and in health, to love and cherish until death do us part." They are found in prayer books of the 16th century. There were also different options in those days: the groom could choose the wording "love, cherish and worship", in this case the bride said "love, cherish and obey." It was only in 1922 that “obedience” was removed from the oath.
Promising to obey your husband sounds archaic these days. And at the same time, we constantly hear about "traditional values" that distinguish Russia favorably from Western countries.
Back in 2019, Sergei Gavrilov, the head of the State Duma Committee for the Development of Civil Society, Issues of Public and Religious Associations, spoke of "the need to legitimize certain traditional values, that is, to give them a legal definition." However, we still do not really know what was so important, but still not included in the legal field, bequeathed to us by our ancestors, Polovtsy and Pechenegs.
From the amendments to the Constitution, it can be understood that these values are definitely not included: these are homosexual families. But whether there is some kind of quality standard in traditional marriages is still not clear.
The legacy of ancestors
Many centuries ago, Slavic girls were deprived of their virginity by the Magi: chastity was considered a disadvantage, and children born out of wedlock were considered a virtue. They envied the man who took away the "divorce with the trailer": he immediately had a wife and a child! I found a good woman - she can give birth for sure, but with these innocent people, go and figure out if she will die during labor. In the 16th century, the Italian traveler Lactantius Roccolini talked about Russian gasques - dances in a hut, which ended in sex with those who were nearby when the torch stopped burning.
Peter I sent his wife Evdokia to the monastery, and when he learned that she had a lover, he ordered him to be impaled, and the woman was forced to watch the execution. Ivan the Terrible, discovering that his fifth wife Maria Dolgorukaya, “lost her virginity,” the day after the wedding, “ordered her to be squeezed into a rattletrap, taken on greyhound horses and thrown into the water,” simply put, drowned her. "They beat with a stick, and a stag, and with boots, and a bucket, and whatever - with fists, a kick," - ethnographer Olga Semyonova Tyan-Shanskaya in her book, published in 1906, casually talks about the attitude of peasants to their wives.Obviously, such customs of our ancestors are unlikely to be useful to us.
Sociologist Maxim Rudnev explains: dissatisfaction with modernity leads to the search for something “more correct”. As a result, neoconservatives talk about an imaginary world of "traditions": beautiful, light, spiritualized and "foldable". But it never existed: our ancestors lived in harsh times and were very cruel people. The number of divorces in pre-revolutionary Russia was small, not because harmony and love reigned in families: the law simply did not make it possible to disperse. As soon as the Bolsheviks abolished the old norms, hundreds of thousands of Russians who did not want to save their marriage began to storm the court.
Traditions do not exist by themselves: they are a product of their time. Children were needed to survive: a dozen would be born, four would survive - perhaps one of them would not drive the old people out of the hut. It was beyond the power of one person to raise daughters and sons - that is the whole foundation of the sanctity of marriage bonds. Clans from several families did not live in the same house out of love and a desire to take care of each other: more than two people were required to cultivate the field.
New times - new customs
Now everything has changed. You can survive alone: duties that once could only be performed by men have sunk into oblivion, women have received the opportunity to study and earn money. Discrimination has not disappeared, but its scale is incomparable with those that could be observed a hundred years ago.
Parenting has changed its status from “must” to “want”: older people pin much more hopes on pensions and the opportunity to keep their jobs than on children and grandchildren. The life expectancy and quality of life have increased: for those who have turned 60, ageism interferes with work much more than health.
All this could not but change the attitude towards marriage. Now we need a partner not because if the horse dies, then someone will have to harness the plow instead. We are not preparing for the sowing season, but we want to be happy. It’s not enough just to move in together: it requires empathy, skills of mutual support and common interests. And, as practice shows, all this is not enough: in April 2021, 59,499 marriages were concluded, while 59,842 were registered in the registry offices.
We should not be concerned with reviving the values of the past: it is impossible to close our eyes to how dysfunctional the marriages of our ancestors were. It is necessary to start looking for new ideals: this is exactly what SETTERS and Violence.net want to do, proposing to revise old wedding vows.
This does not mean that we should give up everything that we knew before. In the USSR, they already tried to abolish traditional marriage: for example, in the 1920s, newspapers discussed the "nationalization" of women. The idea was promoted that love is bourgeois excesses, and any Komsomol member must satisfy the sexual needs of the proletarians, otherwise she is a despicable bourgeoisie. This did not end well: a wave of rapes swept across the country - men believed in their right to get what they want from every woman, with or without consent.
The family as a value requires significant restoration. The words "in sorrow and in joy, in wealth and in poverty, in illness and in health" are still not outdated: none of us is protected from harm. But marriage is no longer an alliance for non-stop survival with the main tasks of "fighting off the Polovtsi" and "not starving to death."
There is much more joy and health now than in past centuries. “Good friends, first of all,” says psychologist John Gottman, known for his work on marital stability and the likelihood of divorce, of spouses. Friendship is, albeit incomplete, but quite a good description of the relationship in a couple, because it implies mutual sympathy, common interests, pleasure from joint leisure, respect and mutual support.
British historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote that references to traditions are used to promote certain practices and phenomena.Too often we hear about traditional values from government officials who think in charts and hardly think about whether each particular person is happy. And therefore, it is better to forget about these values: the fact that there were once in Russia five, and not 50 thousand, divorces a month, does not say anything about whether people were satisfied with family unions.
And therefore psychotherapy, and adherence to personal boundaries, and even Counter Strike, which is not crap, but the addiction of one person who agrees to respect another, will be an excellent addition to "grief and joy". So join the flash mob: let your oath be only yours, because we live our own life, and are not going to repeat the fate of our distant "great-greats".