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Marriage in the New Millennium Essay (Article)

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2020

Introduction

An examination of the articles reveals the changing perceptions of present day society regarding marriage, romantic relationships, and divorce. The articles showcase how the nature of what can be described as “proper relationships” has begun to change wherein sex outside of marriage, cohabitation, “hooking up” and an assortment of other similar acts has become a commonplace notion within present day society. It is in the opinion of this paper that such attitudes are actually connected to the prevalence of divorce in the present day era due to how children perceive the frailty of relationships, the inherent problems that come with them and how a more “laissez-faire” approach when it comes to romantic relationships is more appropriate as compared to the various issues they observed leading up to and resulting from divorce.

Divorce

Amato states that the present rate of divorce differs significantly as compared to the years prior to the 1970s. This is primarily due to changing socio-economic factors related to perceptions regarding the independence of women from men, the development of equality of workplace environments as well as the changing attitudes people have towards the “sanctity” of marriage. This manifests itself in the belief that just because you marry someone does not mean that you have to stay with them forever.

This differs significantly from the attitudes seen prior to the 1970s wherein marriage within the U.S. was viewed with a far greater level of importance. Amato explains that these increased instances of divorce can have an adverse impact on children resulting in behavioral anxiety, depression and in some cases anti-social behavior (Amato 655). The end result is that children who have divorced parents tend to have far more negative views and outcomes regarding marriage as compared to people from marriages that do not have similar problems (Amato, 656).

For instance, if a child with divorced parents experienced being driven from one home to another, having to be with a parent for only a few days out of the week while being shuttled around like some sort of object, they would begin to believe that getting married is simply not worth it in the end. There is also the fact that children of divorce do not experience the same level of emotional support and development that are present in children who are in stable marriages.

Partnerships

Based on the arguments made by Amato, this helps to support the various assertions stated by Sassler who outlines changes in the way people from present day society approach relationships. Sassler goes into detail wherein she explains people from the present have been delaying the date in which they get married, engage in non-committed sexual activities (i.e. having sex without being in a relationship with someone) and have less of a focus on race for sexual partners or those they marry (Sassler 562).

While the latter description shows a positive development in present day society when it comes to inter-racial understanding, the former descriptions outline a trend that showcases that people have become less interested in marriage and more interested in “hooking up” as stated by Sassler. It is the opinion of this paper that this connects to the work of Amato by showing the impact of divorce rates on children and how they perceive romantic relationships when they grow up. Simply put, the experience of divorce impacts them in such a way that they view committed relationships in a negative light.

This is especially true when factoring in Amato’s predictors for divorce which showcase aspects relating to domestic abuse, fighting, screaming, constant arguments and other factors which are clear indicators that a married couple is about to have a divorce. These negative acts can have a lasting impact on the perception of children who view them resulting in a form of disillusionment regarding marriage in general. One way of seeing this at work is in the case of parental absenteeism.

Divorced parents at times focus on their careers instead of their children resulting in a distinct lack of parental interaction. This can lead to the children of divorced parents emulating such a lifestyle resulting in them forgoing long term relationships in favor of focusing on their careers. The reason behind this behavior can ascribed to the concept of emulation wherein children tend to emulate observed behavioral traits. In this case, they are emulating their divorced parent’s focus on their careers instead of having a loving and caring family.

Investigating the Physical and Psychological Impact of Marriage and Divorce

It is based on these factors that Fincham and Beach explore present day marriages and how a healthy or unhealthy marriage can have a distinct impact on an individual’s physical or mental health (Fincham and Beach 636). Fincham and Beach support the assertions made by Amato regarding the adverse impact divorce can have on children but also delve more into how bad marriages can also affect them as well. Other insights that were explored delved into the various processes that have been put into place to address the identified “predictors for divorce” that were outlined by Amato.

Overall, when examining the work of Fincham and Beach, it just seems to combine the views of Amato and Sassler regarding how the concept of marriage at the present has changed significantly from the way it was in the past and how “fickle”, for lack of a better term, people have become resulting in the increase in divorce rates. Simply put, it can be stated that people simply do not want to “work on a marriage” so to speak and simply find it more convenient to just divorce and get it over with. Young children view such a behavior and in turn emulate it when they grow older yet apply it when it comes to the relationships they enter into. The end result is a greater likelihood of short term flings and hook ups instead of longer lasting relationships between two individuals.

Conclusion

Based on what has been presented so far, it is the opinion of this paper that the attitudes related to non-committed relationships or delayed marriages are actually connected to the prevalence of divorce in the present day era. This is due to how children that come from divorced families perceive the frailty of relationships, the inherent problems that come with them and how a more “laissez-faire” approach when it comes to romantic relationships is more appropriate as compared to the various issues they observed leading up to and resulting from divorce. Overall, it can be stated that the articles that were reviewed showed a great deal of information regarding the origin of the present day problems involving marriages and divorce.

Works Cited

Amato, Paul R. “Research On Divorce: Continuing Trends And New Developments.” Journal Of Marriage & Family 72.3 (2010): 650-666. Print.

Fincham, Frank D., and Steven R. H. Beach. “Marriage In The New Millennium: A Decade In Review.” Journal Of Marriage & Family 72.3 (2010): 630-649. Print.

Sassler, Sharon. “Partnering Across The Life Course: Sex, Relationships, And Mate Selection.” Journal Of Marriage & Family 72.3 (2010): 557-575. Print.

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