T he chapters in this book have highlighted the multi- dimensional nature of marriage, mapping out terrains of personal and social histories in an attempt to take stock of this institution-cum-relationship. The ground has by no means been fully covered. Other chapters might have attended to marriage as a legal contract, an economic unit, or an anthropological phenomenon. Perhaps it is significant that the common thread running through this book is the concept of marriage as a personal relationship. There are problems with this emphasis, especially when the personal is disconnected from its social context, but there are also opportunities stemming from it.
Eileen Bertin indicated the scope for personal and social learning that marriage affords in the Prologue, an aspect to which I referred in chapter one when reviewing what functions marriage might have in contemporary society. Martin Richards and Penny Mansfield highlighted opportunities for reconstructing marriage, personally and socially, in the struggle to reconcile belief systems and experience. Michael Sadgrove referred to the redemptive possibilities in marriage,