Modernization is a way of life in which the meaning of a lot of our concepts as well as how we go about daily life has changed.
The age of modernization started after the industrial revolution with the purpose of doing traditional and outdated ways of going about life. Our understanding of the world was very linear and function-based before and during the industrial age.
However, in the modern age, it is not just the function of something that defines it’s value, but it’s artistic or aesthetic worth, how it makes us feel and whether it gives us better experiences.
Keeping this in mind, modernization also means changing the way our social institutions like family function.
Earlier purpose of marriage is to manage home, family
Earlier the point of marriage was largely procreation. The new daughter-in-law was expected to help out completely with the daily up-keep of the husband’s home, even at the expense of her wishes. The family, then, functioned like a rigid system, and the main aim of marriage was to keep this system going, firstly through the birth of the son and secondly by making sure everyone did their role to keep the system going.
This was necessary as we underwent evolution as herds and communities. A clan needed this function to keep all it’s members under control, with rigidly divided roles and hefty punishment when someone broke rules as well as decided to go out of the clan. Obviously, then divorce or any other factor that would break down the system was looked down upon.
If you look closely, all thee marriage rituals also celebrate fertility and what the daughter-in-law can do to progress and protect the new family. E.g., in the pheras in the Hindu wedding ceremony, the wife is ahead of the husband for the death, sickness and ill-fortune pheras, and behind him for happiness and prosperity pheras. Therefore, the new wife was expected to be a soldier ready to lay down her life if needed.
Now purpose of marriage is to find a life partner to share life with
However, in the modern age, we are no longer under threat or attack from other clans, neither facing the crisis of evolution. The function of marriage is now to find a life partner to whom one can talk and share life with. This means that young people don’t want to marry too soon. They want to figure out who the right partner would be. Couples are also more relaxed about having children, and there is no pressure for just biological children either. Adoption is increasing with date.
Now women need their identity
This means that women can and are wanting to have more identity than just ‘wife’, ‘mother’ etc. They want to have a social and professional identity as well. This means that she can also be a more engaging life partner, with something of substance to contribute to conversation. This also means that systematic abuse like dowry or domestic violence will not be tolerated. Men have to change how they view themselves and women.
Having a condescending attitude or being an uninvolved parent will no longer walk. Women can and do divorce, thus their presence cannot be taken for granted. Therefore, marriage is no longer about acquisition, but about partnership.