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Marriages in Societal and Individual Perspective. Chapter 8. Chapter Outline. Marriage in American Society Who Can Marry? The Controversy over Same-Sex Marriage The Marriage Market: Who and How We Choose Why Marry? Predicting Marital Success Engagement, Cohabitation, and Weddings

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Marriages in Societal and Individual Perspective

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chapter outline
Chapter Outline
  • Marriage in American Society
  • Who Can Marry?
  • The Controversy over Same-Sex Marriage
  • The Marriage Market: Who and How We Choose
  • Why Marry?
  • Predicting Marital Success
  • Engagement, Cohabitation, and Weddings
  • In the Beginning: Early Marriage
  • Middle-Aged Marriages
  • Aging and Later-Life Marriages
  • Enduring Marriages
marriage in american society
Marriage in American Society
  • Marriage has long been the foundation on which American families are constructed.
  • Approximately 55% of adults,18 and older, in the United States are currently married.
    • Another 19% are formerly married, being either widowed (6.4%), separated (2.3%), or divorced (10.4%).
marriage in american society1
Marriage in American Society
  • With a 2007 divorce rate of 17.5 per 1,000 marriages, the United States has one of the highest divorce rates among Western societies
  • Singlehood, cohabitation, and births to unmarried mothers (either single or cohabiting) all have increased over the last three decades of the twentieth century
has there been a retreat from marriage
Has There Been a Retreat from Marriage?
  • Some scholars contend that a retreat from marriage has occurred in the United States in recent decades.
  • The retreat from marriage as evident in such recent and ongoing trends as:
    • older age in first marriage for both women and men
    • more people never marrying
    • significant increases in cohabitation and nonmarital births
    • Continued high divorce rates
the economic and demographic aspects discouraging marriage
The Economic and DemographicAspects Discouraging Marriage
  • Whatever retreat from marriage has occurred is not equal among all social groups.
  • Instead, racial, economic, and educational differences can be identified
does not marrying suggest rejection of marriage
Does Not Marrying SuggestRejection of Marriage?
  • Even if low socioeconomic status reduces the likelihood of marriage, it may not signal an attitudinal rejection of marriage.
  • Low-income unmarried couples with children experience three barriers to marriage:
    • financial concerns
    • concerns about the quality and durability of their relationships
    • fear of divorce:
race and marriage
Despite what the race data on marriage appear to suggest, African Americans remain “strong believers in the value of marriage”Race and Marriage
religion and marriage
Religion and Marriage
  • Along with race and social class, religious affiliation is among the factors that may influence whether and when people choose to marry.
  • Religious differences have been identified in:
    • mate choice
    • childbearing and child rearing
    • the division of housework
    • domestic violence
    • marital quality
    • divorce
somewhere between decline and resiliency
Somewhere between Decline and Resiliency
  • Deinstitutionalization of marriage
    • the “weakening of the social norms that define people’s behavior in a social institution such as marriage”
  • Marital decline perspective
    • the belief that marriage is endangered
  • Marital resilience perspective
    • the belief that marriage is changing though still highly valued
who can marry
Who Can Marry?
  • Nowhere in the United States is marriage allowed between:
    • parents and children
    • grandparents and grandchildren
    • brothers and sisters
    • uncles and nieces
    • aunts and nephews.
  • Along with Canada and Mexico, 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow first cousins to marry
who can marry1
Who Can Marry?
  • Age Restrictions
    • Throughout the United States, 49 of 50 states require both would-be spouses to be at least 18 years old to marry without parental consent (19 in Nebraska).
  • Number of Spouses
    • No state allows an individual to marry legally if he or she is already married.
the controversy over same sex marriage
Although most states continue to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples, as of September 2009, six states allow same-sex couples to legally marry.The Controversy over Same-Sex Marriage
same sex marriage
Same-Sex Marriage
  • Internationally, the movement toward gay marriage began in the 1990s, when a number of countries enacted legislation extending marital rights or marriage like protections to gay couples.
  • As of mid-2009 the right to marry extends to same-sex couples in:
    • the Netherlands
    • Belgium
    • Canada,
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Norway
    • South Africa
the marriage market who and how we choose
The Marriage Market: Who and How We Choose
  • Endogamy
    • People usually marry others from within their same large group—such as the nationality, ethnic group, or socioeconomic status with which they identify—because they share common assumptions, experiences, and understandings.
  • Exogamy
    • Requires us to marry outside certain groups—specifically, outside our own family (however defined) and outside our sex.
  • Endogamy and exogamy interact to limit the field of eligibles.
  • The field is further limited by society’s encouragement of homogamy
    • the tendency to choose a mate whose personal or group characteristics are similar to ours.
  • Most marriages are between members of the same race.
race and ethnicity
Only about one in four racial intermarriages are between an African American and Caucasian.

Typically, when they occur, these are marriages of black husbands to white wives.

Race and Ethnicity
the marriage squeeze and mating gradient
The Marriage Squeeze and Mating Gradient
  • Marriage squeeze
    • The gender imbalance reflected in the ratio of available unmarried women and men
    • Members of one gender tend to be “squeezed” out of the marriage market
  • Mating gradient
    • The tendency for women to marry men of higher status.
    • Men tend to marry women slightly below them in age, education, and so on
marital and family history
Marital and Family History
  • Never-married people are more likely to marry other never-married people than they are to “intermarry” by marrying divorced people.
  • This marital history homogamy occurs mostly as a result of deliberate choices.
why marry
Why Marry?
  • Benefits of Marriage
    • Economic well-being (e.g., higher income, greater productivity, and mobility at work)
    • Physical and mental health
    • Personal happiness
  • Is It Marriage?
    • Selection versus Protection
predicting marital success
Predicting Marital Success
  • Ted Huston and Heidi Melz (2004, 952) describe three “prototypical courtship experiences,” each of which has different likely consequences for couples who marry.
    • Rocky and turbulent courtships
    • Sweet and undramatic courtships
    • Passionate courtships
predicting marital success1
Predicting Marital Success
  • Background Factors
    • Age
    • Level of education
  • Personality Factors
    • Opposites do not usually attract
    • Personality seems fixed and unchanging
  • Relationship Factors
    • Problem-solving skills are important but perhaps not as important as the emotional climate within which such skills are implemented
engagement cohabitation and weddings
Engagement, Cohabitation, and Weddings
  • Engagement
    • The culmination of the premarital dating process.
    • More significance as a ritual than as a binding commitment to be married.
  • Cohabitation
    • For some people cohabitation is an alternative way of entering marriage.
  • Weddings
    • Weddings are ancient rituals that symbolize a couple’s commitment to each other.
the stations of marriage
The Stations of Marriage
  • Emotional marriage
  • Psychic marriage
  • Community marriage
  • Legal marriage
  • Economic marriage
  • Coparental marriage
in the beginning early marriage
In the Beginning: Early Marriage
  • Traditional legal marriage contained the following four assumptions about husband or wife responsibilities:
    • the husband is the head of the household,
    • the husband is responsible for supporting the family
    • the wife is responsible for domestic work
    • the wife is responsible for childrearing
in the beginning early marriage1
In the Beginning: Early Marriage
  • Marital Tasks
    • Establish marital and family roles
    • Provide emotional support for the partner
    • Adjust personal habits
  • Spouses also need to do the following:
    • Negotiate gender roles
    • Make sexual adjustments
    • Establish family and employment priorities and negotiate a division of labor
    • Develop communication skills and learn how to effectively share intimate feelings and ideas with each other
marital commitments
Marital Commitments
  • Johnson, Caughlin, and Huston (1999) identify three major types of commitment, each of which operates within marriage:
    • Personal commitment
    • Moral commitment
    • Structural commitment
how parenthood affects marriage
Much research attention has been devoted to examining the effects of children on marriage.

The presence of children in the household appears to lower marital satisfaction and increase marital conflict

How Parenthood Affects Marriage
middle aged marriages
Middle-Aged Marriages
  • Middle-aged marriages, in which couples are in their forties and fifties, are frequently families with adolescents and/or young adults leaving home.
  • Families as Launching Centers
    • Some couples may be happy or even grateful to see their children leave home
    • Some experience difficulties with this exodus
    • Some continue to accommodate their adult children under the parental roof.
aging and later life marriages
There are some 37 million Americans over age 65, representing an estimated 13% of the U.S. population.Aging and Later-Life Marriages
The loss of one’s spouse confronts women and men with a variety of deep and painful losses.

Although both women and men lose their chief source of emotional support, women typically have wider and deeper friendship networks to turn to for support.

enduring marriages
Enduring Marriages
  • Conflict-habituated marriages
  • Passive-congenial marriages
  • Devitalized marriages
  • Vital marriages
  • Total marriages