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The History of Marriage and Family is Changing

The History of Marriage and Family is Changing

Things have changed a great deal from the Puritanical beliefs integrated long ago that said people must have a license in order to live together. Now, blended families are commonplace and "marriages" between people of the same sex are a reality. The history of marriage and family is actually filled with a variety of thought quite foreign to say, the average American. Marriage was often an agreement of practicality, arranged to provide a linkage between family fortunes. The film Titanic exemplifies this type of thinking even as late as the turn of the century. Thus, it is only in relatively recent history that marriage has been looked at in terms of romance.

Although throughout the twentieth century the subject of marriage is linked with white wedding dresses and three tiered whipped cream cakes, it has also broached the question of whether or not the committed couple should live together before the big wedding day. While it is less controversial today than, say, fifty years ago, some still call it "living in sin." The primary objections stem from a religious point of view and those who do choose to cohabit before the ink is dry on the marriage license are subject to criticism.

Maclean's reports that such living arrangements used to be considered lower class but new statistics reveal that these so-called common law marriages are much more widespread (Maclean’s 14). The number of couples living together in Canada, without benefit of marriage, almost tripled between 1981 and 1995 (14). Some suggest that the increase is attributable to the fact that the arrangement has much less of a stigma attached now (14). The reason that the stigma is lessened is due to the fact that the current people in their twenties have parents who have also cohabited before marriage. This is the first time that this phenomenon has occurred as the boomers began the loosening of sexual mores in the society during the turbulent sixties. While it is true that living together is more acceptable, it is far from widely acceptable in the still rigid American culture.

It is interesting to note that during the period from 1960 to 1980, the divorce rate doubled (Nadeau 312). Studies show that divorce was most common in the second year of marriage (312). Because it was also a time that people began to live together more frequently, researcher...

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...hed home, whether or not she has a career. Sometimes it is the career that keeps a spouse from making the move, but sometimes it is a reluctance to pull up roots every three years at a company’s whim. Some couples have chosen to stay married but not cohabit. One may wonder how this affects a marriage. While living together before marriage does not seem to affect the couple or family if the marriage does happen within a reasonable period of time, living apart could conceivably pull a couple apart.

Living apart can be a strain, resulting in infidelity or a change in what was once a common direction. The couple can become estranged. It is obvious that living apart can tear a marriage apart. By living apart, families miss out on help received from kin and friends of the partner (Hao 269). Marriage also institutionalizes the obligations of both parents to raise children (269). Thus, although a legal document legitimizes the relationship, it is probably more dangerous for a relationship not to live together than to cohabit without the marriage license. There is no evidence that cohabitation is detrimental to a relationship. In fact, it is probably beneficial to the relationship..

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