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The Evolution Of Marriage Essay

2464 words - 10 pages

A New Era in Marriage
Patrick Liou
PSYC 359
Professor Barone

A New Era in Marriage
Robert Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love states that intimacy, passion, and commitment combine to produce different types of love, ranging from non-love to consummate love. In the 21st century, most Americans consider romantic love as key criteria in finding a marital spouse, but throughout history, the choice of a spouse usually had little if any to do with romantic love. In the 1960s, when the dynamics of a marriage followed the breadwinner-homemaker model, couples who married looked for a companionate partnership that would provide a stable living financially since financial stability was often ...view middle of the document...

Love in the 1960s is characterized as the companionate marriage, where friendship and commitment takes precedence over romance and passion when selecting a mate. To put things in perspective in Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love, companionate love would be high in the intimacy and commitment aspect, where “closeness, communication and sharing are coupled with substantial investment in the relationship as the partners work to maintain deep, long-term friendship” (Miller & Perlman, 2009 pg. 250), but lacking in the aspect of passion. This type of love has an emphasis on affection, friendship, and sexual gratification, but is still gendered by division of labor. There are strong gender roles and expectations as the man of the house provides for the family financially as the breadwinner while the woman took on the motherly nurturing role, staying at home to look after the house and raise their children.
Today, the expectations of what constitutes a partner as marriage material has grown significantly. People believe they deserve to find passion and romance in their relationships and strive to find a partner that fits all three aspects of Sternberg’s theory, a style of love otherwise known as consummate love. These marriages can be described as individualized marriages, as there is an emphasis on self-development, flexible roles, and communication while traditional gender roles are more likely to be dismissed. If the benefits of the relationship fall below expectations, the option of divorcing a partner is socially acceptable and viable as there are less financial consequences. This can be attributed to the blurring of social gender roles in the 21st century. It is far more common today for both partners of a marriage to have professional careers than it was in the 1960s. A study done recently by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2000) found that the majority of married couples in the United States both work.
The deterioration of gender roles of women fifty years ago and present day demonstrate the change in attitudes that allow women to explore their own professional careers. In the 1960s, the traditional life stages of women included getting married in their late teens to early twenties, and bearing and raising children until mid-life, leaving no time for them to pursue their own professional careers. A study conducted by Thelma Vriend (1977) outlines the changes that have led to more American women joining the workforce. The study states that many women still interrupt their career goals for marriage and childbearing, but “social and economic changes have freed women for mid-life career crises compounded by sex-linked salary and responsibility inequities” (Vriend, 1977). However, Vriend concludes that the “family first, career second” myth still hinders women’s search for a satisfying professional career and gender inequalities still exist as role-overload is much more prevalent for women than men (Vriend, 1977). Still,...

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