Sept. 7, 2012
Article 1 Summary
American Marriage In Transition
Marriage’s place in the life course used to come before starting a career or even having children but, now it usually comes afterward. It was the foundation of adult life, now it seems to be the capstone. Marriage is achieved through one’s own effort rather than something to which one routinely accedes.
There are three forms of marriage companionate, individualized and pure. Companionate marriage is the single-earner, breadwinner-homemaker marriage that flourished in the 1950s. The emotional satisfaction of the spouses became an important criterion for marital success. They were supposed to be each other’s companions-friends and lovers.
Individualized marriage was identified by three themes. The first was self-development which developed a fulfilling independent self. The second is the roles within the marriage should be flexible and negotiable. The third would be communication and openness in confronting problems.
Pure relationship is when both partners last only as long as they’re both satisfied. Unlike marriage, it’s not regulated by law and its members do not enjoy special legal rights. It exists primarily in the realms of emotion and self-identity.
From 1850 to 1960 it was the “era of mandatory marriage”. It was the only socially acceptable way to have a sexual relationship and to raise children. In the early 1950s, only about 4% of children were born outside marriage. In 1978 1 out of 6 births in the U.S. occurred outside of marriage. Today the comparable figure is 1 out of 3.
More forms of marriage and more alternatives to marriage are socially acceptable. Individuals aim for personal growth and deeper intimacy through more open communication and mutually shared disclosures about feelings with their partners. Marriage’s symbolic importance has remained high, and may have even increased.