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Why Be Married? To Cover Your Parents' Debts

I found this fascinating description of marriage in Bali today, with yet another reason to be married:

"For Balinese, a marriage in Bali is not just a union of two individual but also a passing of the baton religious and social responsibilities from father to son. Son inherits everything, wealth, debt, religious and social obligations, family temple, and of course obligation to perform cremation ceremony for his parents."

The wife moves into the husband's home and cuts her responsibilities to her family of origin to help him meet his.

No sons to offer in marriage? Offer a daughter. There's a special marriage form in which you adopt your son-in-law, giving him all the rights and responsibilities of a married son. He moves in with your daughter, abandons his responsibilities to his parents.

If that's a problem, because he's an only son, there's a special third form, seen as less desirable than the first two, in which he takes on the responsibilties and rights of both families.

I have not attempted to verify if this is an accurate description, but It's got me thinking once again about our reasons for marrying.

Too often, we focus on what we expect to get from marriage, rather than what we are offering to do. Happiness research has shown satisfaction comes from feeling part of something bigger than ourselves. The happiness of physical and emotional pleasures from a spouse is fleeting and must be renewed constantly, but the satisfaction of feeling part of something meaningful and larger than ourselves is much more long-lasting.


It never ceases to amaze me about how different our cultures can be. Not necessarily better or worse, but defintely different. So it is no wonder why there can be so many challenges in a marriage.

Consider that one way to better understand those differences is to write down those family traditions as stories for future generations.

Beth L

Excellent idea, Beth, and maybe not only for future generations. Our family has a mix of traditions, with members on opposite sides of the world and with many different religious views. We might do well to write down our family stories to share with all parts of the family, as a way of better understanding each other. Thanks for the idea!

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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