The impossibility of minimizing marriage

A review of Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality and the Law by Elizabeth Brake, Oxford University Press, 288 pages, 2012. $27.50 (paperback).

January 31, 2013 | by Clement Ng
PDF:  The impossibility of minimizing marriage


  1. Blaze Carlson, K. (2012, November 16). The new adultery: Why stepping out is no longer just a man’s game, National Post. Retrieved from
  2. Scruton, R. (2006). Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation. London: Continuum Books.
  3. “Quirkyalone” was coined by author Sasha Cagen, who says “Quirkyalones are people who enjoy being single (but are not opposed to being in a relationship) and prefer being single to dating for the sake of being in a relationship. It’s a mindset. Quirkyalone is not anti-love. It is pro-love. It is not anti-dating. It is anti-compulsory dating. We tend to be romantics. We prefer to be single rather than settle. In fact, the core of quirkyalone is the inability to settle. We spend a significant chunk of our lives single because we hold relationships to a high standard.” Retrieved from
    Author Ethan Watters defines “urban tribes” as “the social networks of friends we create in cities. While tribes can include married couples, they’re usually composed of those who have delayed marriage into their late twenties, thirties and forties. For a time, these tribes can replace our families as our primary social support system. We have inner-connected relationships with people in our tribes, we create rituals with them. Sometimes these rituals are as simple as eating dinner every week at the same restaurant or taking a Memorial Day hiking trip, but these repeated activities result in a sense of group history. Because of this shared history, urban tribes can lose members over time and gain new ones and still feel like the same group.” Retrieved from
  4. Historically, only sexual intercourse was understood to complete marriage, under English law. The earliest recorded mention appears in Statues 2 & 3 of King Edward VI, c. 23 § 2 (1548), “Sentence for Matrimony, commanding Solemnization, Cohabitation, Consummation and Tractation as becometh Man and Wife to have.” This statute carried forward into English several ecclesiastical law principles (mostly transmitted in Latin) that had been observed for centuries.
  5. O’Brien, M.B. (Summer/Fall 2012). Why Liberal Neutrality Prohibits Same-Sex Marriage: Rawls, Political Liberalism, and the Family, The British Journal of American Legal Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 429-430. Retrieved from
  6. More specifically, mothers and fathers nurture and discipline in different but complementary ways. See, for example, the sociological evidence summarized in David Poponoe’s Families Without Fathers: Father, Marriage and Children in American Society, (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2009), Part Three.
  7. Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation, p. 358.