CHRONOLOGICALLY SPEAKING - IT ALL
Circa 2500 B.C. - Women of nomadic Semitic tribes entered short term marriages with men of other tribes.
Circa 2000 B.C. - Hebrew parents select spouses for their adolescent sons and daughters.
Circa 1250 B.C. - Moses presents the Ten Commandments, including "Thou shall not commit adultery."
Circa 1100 B.C. - The first formal divorce procedure is recorded in Canaan. A husband can divorce his wife by simply writing her a letter expressing his intent and sending her out of the house.
Circa 410 B.C. - Socrates asks a friend, "Is there anyone with whom you talk less than you do with your wife?" The friend replies, "There are few or none, I confess."
Circa 300 B.C. - The all-male Athenian Legislature gives women the right to petition for divorce but grants custody of any child to the father, even if his misconduct caused the breakup.
A.D. 57 - The evangelist Saint Paul advises unmarried people, "It is better to marry than to burn." The Christian Church, however, continues to promote chastity over marriage.
529 - Fretting over the fragmentation of society, the Byzantine emperor Justinian issues a strict anti-divorce decree and child support law: the father remains financially responsible, no matter who gets custody.
1439 - The Roman Catholic Church declares marriage a sacrament, indissoluble for any reason.
Circa 1500 - The diamond engagement ring makes its first known appearance in Venice.
1529-34 - King Henry VIII breaks with the Catholic Church when it refuses to grant him a divorce. He founds the Church of England and marries Anne Boleyn, pregnant with the future Queen Elizabeth I.
1552 - The Church of England introduces the traditional wedding vows in its Book of Common Prayer.
1813 - A white wedding dress appears for the first time in a popular womens magazine.
1843 - Mormon leader Joseph Smith claims to have received a written "revelation" justifying polygamy. Upon hearing the news, his wife Emma throws the revelation into the fire - but Smith has taken the precaution of having several copies made.
1857 - The British Parliaments Act of 1857 establishes a divorce court. An arrangement that the U.S. adopts.
1858 - Princess Victoria of Britain founds a lasting tradition when, in her wedding to Prussian prince Frederick William, she chooses to enter to the strains of the "Bridal Chorus" from Wagners Lohengrin ("Here Comes The Bride!") and to exit to the "Wedding March" from Mendelssohns A Midsummer Nights Dream.
1879 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules that polygamy is unconstitutional.
1924 - The University of North Carolina offers the first college course on marriage in the United States.
1934 - Brides magazine debuts.
1936 - King Edward VIII of Britain abdicates his throne to marry twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.
1949 - South Carolina becomes the last of the 48 states to grant its citizens the right to divorce.
1957 - Amid a rising tide of marital breakups, the TV courtroom drama Divorce Court premieres.
Circa 1965 - Wedding vows taken from Kahlil Gibrans The Prophet become popular: "Love one another, but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each others cup but drink not from one cup..."
1967 - Tammy Wynettes "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" stays number 1 on the country charts for four weeks. The Newlywed Game, featuring just-married couples, makes its first appearance on television.
1970 - California enacts Americas first no-fault divorce laws. In later years, all 49 other states will follow.
1979 - The word palimony enters the language when movie star Lee Marvins former live-in companion, Michelle Triola, sues him for $1.8 million. She gets $104,000.
1985 - U.S. courts uphold carmaker John DeLoreans prenuptial agreement; allowing him to retain pre-marriage assets after divorce.
1987 - The film Fatal Attraction paints a lurid picture of the risks of extramarital sex.
1990 - The U.S. Census Bureau institutes the category "unmarried partners" to describe those not related by blood, but living together and in a close personal relationship. Hugh Hefner, 64, tells an American Chronicles interviewer: "For many years I felt that I could find contentment in a succession of romantic relationships. I found that the real answer to that is something much more traditional. Its the love of one special woman, a home and family."
1991 - Elizabeth Taylor married 8 times: Conrad Hilton, Michael Wilding, Mike Todd, Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton (twice), John Warner, and Larry Fortensky
2002... - Somebody we know is planning to say, "I Do" and join the club.
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