Helen Alvare reviews John Witte, Jr.’s 2nd edition of his book on marriage, From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion and Law in the Western Tradition, at Library of Law and Liberty. It is true that in the past households have often put made up of elements other than the “traditional” non-nuclear family. Because of war, famine, plague, short life expectancy, death in childbirth, many children were cared for by others, predominantly relatives, or adopted. I would not expected these arrangements to be seen as anything other than as “best we can do” remedies for what the child ought to have had, his mother and father raising him.