What is the purpose of marriage?

I recently read a blog post that maintained that couples should divorce if they aren’t going to have children–because marriage is all about procreation. Is it? Another post noted that on the Maslow list of basic human needs, finding a mate and parenting are right at the top with food and shelter. However, one could meet the parenting needs with children other than their own. What do you think?

Certainly, many religions believe that married couples are supposed to have children. I’m Catholic, and the vows clearly state that couples will gladly accept children and raise them in the Catholic faith. In fact, I got my first marriage annulled through the church on the grounds that my husband refused to have children. There’s no question about what our church preaches. In fact, at a women’s potluck dinner last week, I was clearly reminded of that fact as I sat like a rock in a river listening to women all around me talk about their children and grandchildren.

But what is the purpose of marriage? When I married Fred, children weren’t foremost in our minds, especially after he told me he didn’t want any more kids. He had three from his first marriage. This marriage was for love, companionship, sex, taking care of each other. We simply wanted to be together. Isn’t that a good enough reason to be married? It occurs to me that Fred had already done the procreation part of life with his first wife. Now, it would seem I had missed my chance. I was supposed to make babies with Jim and I didn’t. But at least I wasn’t alone.

What do you think about all this? I welcome your comments.