Trends In Marriage And Family Life Essay

941 WordsDec 3, 20094 Pages
Running head: TRENDS IN MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE Trends in Marriage and Family Life Soc 210 210-800 RBaskerville Catawba Valley Community College Trends in Marriage and Family Life In the past century, many changes have taken place with the U. S. family system. When we look back, prior to the 20th century, the institution of marriage and family was bound by religious belief, tradition and law. The husband was the head of the household. He and the wife became “one” person, the husband. A wife couldn’t sue in her own name and her husband could dispose of her property as he wished. Not until 1920 could women even vote and it was assumed that her views were the views of her husband. He was the provider; the woman did not work outside of the household. (Cherlin, 2005, p. 33-55) Marriage was rooted in Christian monogamy and was essential for civilization and our founding fathers grounded the structure of the democracy on this marital model. Marriage laws have shaped the meaning of citizenship, determined rights and responsibilities of spouses, who are allowed to marry whom and which unions are legitimate in the public eye. Through the enforcement of a particular form of lifelong monogamy, the government has reinforced gender and racial hierarchies, restricted and controlled immigration, structured economic relations; tax policies, military service, property ownership, welfare, sexuality and reproduction, the latter being controlled by public policies, yet marriage laws and marital status are imbedded in them. (Cott, 2000) For two centuries, women were subordinate economically and politically because of the structure of marriage and family at that time, which also fostered female dependency. These marital laws of the time prohibited slaves and later on, interracial couples as well as immigrants from gaining citizenship because their

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