Discover the history behind popular traditions and the science behind matrimony By Alexandra Gekas "Love and marriage, love and marriage…go together like a horse and…"... Read More
Discover the history behind popular traditions and the science behind matrimony
“Love and marriage, love and marriage…go together like a horse and…” well, you know the lyrics. While we’ve been singing songs, writing poems, living for and dying over matters of the heart for centuries, how much do we really know about wedded bliss? Whether it’s the traditions that surround it or the biology that fuels it, here are 10 little-known facts about—you guessed it—love and marriage.
Wedding dresses weren’t always white, according to TLC. In fact, they were traditionally red, blue, purple or even black, with gold and silver stitching. It wasn’t until 1840, when Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert in a white bridal gown, that the “chaste” color became the status quo.
Men who kiss their wives in the morning are said to live five years longer than those who don’t. So pucker up and start your day off right!
Give It Away
A 2006 study found that altruism leads to marital bliss. Participants were asked whether they agreed with the following statements: “I’d rather suffer myself than let the one I love suffer” and “I’m willing to sacrifice my own wishes to let the one I love achieve his or hers.” The study found that 67 percent of the more altruistic participants rated their own marriages as “very happy,” while only 50 percent of the less altruistic were very happy in their marriages.
Ring Around the Finger
While giving a ring to your betrothed is a practice that dates back to Roman times, the first recorded occurrence of a diamond engagement ring was in 1477, when the Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave one to his fiancée, Mary of Burgundy.
If you want to know whether or not the object of your affection will be a good marriage partner, check out his or her yearbook photo. In a 2009 study, scientists ranked the intensity of people’s smiles in their college yearbook photos from 1 to 10. They found that none of the people in the top 10 percent—those with the biggest smiles—had divorced, while almost 25 percent in the bottom 10 percent had ended a marriage.
Most modern marriage proposals are from men, but women actually do a small share of the asking, too. And they have Scotland to thank for starting the trend centuries ago: In 1228, it was the first European country where women earned the right to propose marriage, a law which then spread throughout Europe.
Maybe love really is all you need…at least to stay out of trouble. According to a 2010 study, marriage reduced criminal behavior in high-risk males by 35 percent. While the study’s authors weren’t sure whether calmer men were more likely to marry or whether marriage had a calming effect, we think the married guys just didn’t want to explain those handcuffs to their wives.
Tie the Knot
The term “tie the knot” comes from the pre-Biblical tradition of “handfasting,” during which betrothed couples would join hands—his right to her right, his left to her left—in front of witnesses, signifying the couple is married for a year and a day. After the allotted time passed, they could then renew permanently or pledge themselves to each other for another year and a day, ad infinitum.
Wedding and engagement rings have been worn on the fourth finger of the left hand since ancient times. The Romans believed a vein in this particular finger, called “vena amoris” (a.k.a. the “vein of love”), leads directly to the heart.
Mind or Matter?
In a 2007 study, scientists found that men in love show more activity in the visual part of the brain, while women in love show more activity in the part of the brain that governs memory. Scientists theorize the difference has more to do with anthropology than biology: Men look for fertility features in women, and since women can’t judge fertility in men by physical appearance, they must remember certain characteristics that will determine if he will be a good mate.