Examine the Reasons for Changes in the Patterns of Marriage, Divorce and Cohabitation Since the 1970s.

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Since the 1970s society has seen a dramatic increase in divorce rates, growing cohabitation and changes in patterns of marriage. This could be because of changes in the law making divorce cheaper and easier to get, changes in society making cohabitation, marrying at a later age or not marrying at all and divorcing less stigmatised. People are deciding to not marry at all and those who do marry are putting it off until a later age. Studies show that men and women on average are marrying 7 years later than what they used to, making the norm to marry at 30 for women and 32 for men. Reaons for this as some functionalists point out are the reduced functions of the family. In contemporary society, a number of family functions have been passed to other institutions such as education and healthcare. This has perhaps meant that marriage has become a less practical necessity. The changing role of women, is a very important reason for the decline of marriage. Feminists point out that, womens expectations of marriage and life have risen during the last century and are not willing to accept the traditional housewife role. Women have become more successful than men in education and many of them are in paid employment, some of them in managerial positions. This has reduced the economic dependency women have on men, reducing their reasons for marriage therefore changing the patterns of marriage. Women nowadays are more likely to marry because of love and affection. There has been a dramatic increase in the divorce rate in the past 40 years due to changes in the law making it affordable and easier and changes in society making it more acceptable. Changes in the law that caused an increase in the divorce rate are The Divorce Law Act of 1969, came into effect in 1971. This made marriage easier to obtain, you no longer needed a "matrimonial offence" such as adultery to get divorced.

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