Is Marriage a Contract?

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.

Audrey Hepburn

I usually use this blog to post items that either inspire or inform.  

However, I recently came across this Egyptian marriage contract from 200 B.C.E. and knew I had to post it as it blew me away!  

There is so much talk about the “institution” of marriage that we sometimes forget that the “institution” has changed over time, and from culture to culture.

This particular contract was discovered in Luxor – Egypt – not Vegas! 

Historians think that the idea of a trial marriage may have been rooted in the importance Egyptians placed on having children and so the need of a wife’s early pregnancy. 

From the vantage of 2020 this contract is an eye-opener!

I take thee, Taminis, daughter of Pamonthis, into my house to be my lawful wife for the term of five months. Accordingly, I deposit for you in the Temple of Hathor the sum of four silver stater (coins), which will be forfeited to you if I dismiss you before the conclusion of the five months, and besides this my banker shall do something for you. But if you leave me on your own account before the end of the five months, the above sum which I have deposited shall be refunded to me.

While this practice may strike us today as “odd,” it makes me think of a couple whose wedding ceremony I officiated after they had been together for over five years. 

They shared with me that each year on January 1st they sit down and review the past year and their “contract” for staying together. They review the highs and lows, the “good times and bad” of the past year, celebrating it all while recalibrating how they want their relationship to “work” and “feel” in the coming year.

They said that it’s their way of making sure they do not mindlessly take for granted each other and the life they are creating with and for each other.

I think the Pharaoh would approve!

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