Transformation of Marriage:

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The marriage revolution has been a controversial issue since the dawn of time, and all that are and have been involved with "matrimony" are aware of the issues of the future. There can be no denying that the culture of marriage has changed. This very course is itself a great example of this fact. Much like any other sociological subject of any real concern, there are many "opinions" related to this issue. This paper will attempt to highlight marriage seen as the sociological transformation, marital erosion versus evolution, and why many people fail at marriage and what does it take to be successful in greater detail. This will allow you, the readers, to make up your own minds regarding this extremely multifaceted issue.

Marriage seen as the sociological transformation

"Couples today have much higher expectations. Between the 1950s and the 1970s American attitudes toward marriage changed dramatically as part of what has been called the "psychological revolution"—a transformation in the way people look at marriage, parenthood, and their lives in general." (Skolnick p.171) At first blush, marriage in America seems to have followed a similar course. Once a required rite of passage, seen as a genuine embodiment of shared values, it now serves as a game-show prize on Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire or a booby prize on My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé — even though wedding ceremonies have created a "bridal-industrial complex," as Lee professor of economics Claudia Goldin calls the nearly $100-billion-a-year U.S. industry that outpaces even the movie business ($45 billion a year, including sales and rentals). (Hodder, 2004) Motivated by celebrity magazines and wedding planners, couples take on increasingly elaborate spectacles that take years to plan and cost on average $20,000 to produce. When Love Story first appeared, our society was still extremely absorbed in a marriage culture that encouraged and supported getting and staying married. But inside a few years, the women's movement, the pill, the sexual revolution, and various economic shifts had permanently transformed that marriage-centric society. Marriage is not an endangered species, but it is surrounded by enormous difficulties that were not readily apparent 35 or 40 years ago. Divorce is a very serious presence — over 50 percent of our marriages end in divorce. The culture doesn't encourage permanence or fidelity. Dual careers, while there's nothing inherently wrong with them, tend to force people to make difficult decisions about the growing roles of the two partners in the marriage. So the assumed stabilities of 40 or 50 years ago — the Ozzie and Harriet world that most people refer to, if they ever existed, certainly don't exist now.

Social conservatives blame divorce, cohabitation, illegitimacy, and the demise of the traditional family for society's ills, from poverty, crime, and juvenile delinquency to the moral decay and destruction of the American way of life. In the 1970s, marriage was at its lowest but by the late 1990s there was a reappearance of marriage, seen in the leveling off of the divorce rate. Although the claims for the value of marriage by conservatives and gay-rights proponents "were from two ends of the spectrum, they came together — at least at the rhetorical level — for what marriage...accomplishes and how crucial it is as a social institution." (Gallagher, 2002) Historic change in American matrimony is especially pronounced in three areas: the equalizing of the respective rights and duties of wives and husbands, the dissolution of marital prohibitions based on race, and the evolution from state-defined grounds for divorce to couple-defined no fault divorce. The most recent area of debate is whether the state should sanction marital consent between same-sex couples. Although such a prospect is unthinkable to some, earlier forms of legal marriage are equally unimaginable now. As equalities expanded, patterns of marital consent...
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