Life is all a matter of perspective.
I had a chat with a friend recently and somehow the conversation turned to marriage.
He was telling me how in some cultures it is the bride’s side that pays the groom’s side a significant sum of money in exchange for taking their daughter into their family.
This initially sounded odd to me as I’ve only ever heard of cases where in certain cultures, the groom’s side pay a “bride price” as a cost for taking their daughter’s hand in marriage.
Not being able to reconcile all this in my mind, I turned to the Internet for help.
Naturally, the top search result was from Wikipedia – specifically this article on the concept of “dowry.”
Here is an excerpt from the first paragraph, have a look at this:
A dowry is a transfer of parental property, gifts or money at the marriage of a daughter. Dowry contrasts with the related concepts of bride price and dower. While bride price or bride service is a payment by the groom or his family to the bride’s parents, dowry is the wealth transferred from the bride’s family to the groom or his family, ostensibly for the bride.
This instantly struck me as fascinating.
Marriage. A simple and universal concept that is innately human.
Yet independently of one another, over time, people in different countries and cultures came to view it from directly opposing philosophical views.
Let me explain.
Now I’m by no means a scholar on this topic, but here is what I learnt after further research on the topic.
In ancient times, women were considered to be a “liability” and parents mostly wanted to have sons for several reasons.
Firstly women did not inherit the family name in that they took on another family’s name upon marriage thus signifying a “change” in family.
Secondly, there was a time where women could not even legally inherit property hence parents wanted sons in order to bequest their estate upon passing away.
Thirdly, back then it was a far more physically intensive time, especially during the agrarian age. Mens’ strength was needed to work the land as well as protect the family property.
Thus, to cut a long story short it boils down to two fundamentally opposite views:
- Cultures that evolved from the view that women are more “liabilities” than men tend to adopt the dowry system (bride’s family paying the groom’s family at marriage).
- Whereas cultures that view a bride as a gift from her parents who raised and invested in her for many years and hence deserve fair compensation tend to adopt the “bride price” system (groom’s family paying the bride’s family at marriage).
Action points/notes to self
- Consciously be aware that most issues in life aren’t black and white. There are many shades of gray in between. Therefore be more considerate and accepting of other people’s points of view, in so far as it is reasonable to do so.
- Like the famous “is the glass half empty or half full” question it really is a matter of how you look at it.
- So I guess the most powerful take-away from this is that a 1% shift in perspective can potentially dramatically alter your perception and worldview. Does this excite you or scare you?
What do you think about this curious phenomenon that is apparently still highly common and prevalent in the world today? I would love to hear some of your thoughts.
Tony Lee Jacobs