The notion of the “romantic” marriage is really a novel American concept. According to Stephanie Koontz, Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage. in our not so distant past, we Americans primarily married out of convenience, seeking positive traits in a partner such as fairness, kindliness, and good temper.
Of course today individuals come together out of love and not so much for romantic coupling and the divorce rate is still at around 50%. Why is that? Is it because we place far too many expectations on our partner? Sometimes unrealistic? Then there is the changing gender rolls. The economic downturn of our economy has seen more men unemployed as compared to women. Women are fast becoming the primary bread winner. According to the NY Times, this trend is bound to continue:
Four in 10 American households with children under age 18 now include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner for her family, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census and polling data released Wednesday. This share, the highest on record, has quadrupled since 1960.
The shift reflects evolving family dynamics.
For one, it has become more acceptable and expected for married women to join the work force. It is also more common for single women to raise children on their own. Most of the mothers who are chief breadwinners for their families — nearly two-thirds — are single parents.
The recession may have played a role in pushing women into primary earning roles, as men are disproportionately employed in industries like construction and manufacturing that bore the brunt of the layoffs during the downturn. Women, though, have benefited from a smaller share of the job gains during the recovery; the public sector, which employs a large number of women, is still laying off workers.
Today’s couples are also faced with not just gender changing roles and financial hardships, but are also dealing with technological advances which have played havoc on some marriages. It’s that much easier to slip into an anonymous role behind a computer screen and become a voyeur exploring “uncharted seas.” Partners are reconnecting with old flames (i.e. via Facebook) or delving into the seedy side of porn and unwanted personal ads.
Making a “got at it” in today’s world means working that much harder to stay together. The key is remembering that we are part of a team. Keep the lines of communication open and respect your spouse’s feelings. Never go to bed angry. That doesn’t solve anything.
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