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Marriage is hard work, and every one of them is unique and unrepeatable. The outcomes of marriages can never be predicted or explained, but it is still very fascinating to examine the experiences of different families, trying to conclude what events have brought the couple to the point where it stands. For this assignment, I have chosen two women who are a mother and a daughter. I find it interesting since I have an opportunity to both analyze two marriages of different durations and examine how the mother’s experience can influence her daughter’s view of relationships. Additionally, the responses of my interviewees largely confirm the concepts, which we have studied in the class. In the interests of the respondents, their names have been changed.
The First Interview: Louise
The first interview I conducted was with Louise (53 years old). Louise is one of my neighbors, and she has been married for thirty-three years. She met her husband during her university years – they met through friends. After two years of dating, the couple got married (for love). For several years after that, they were living with the groom’s parents, contributing to the development of patrilocal residence (Coles 56). The family has three children, all daughters: the eldest girl is 29 years old, the middle one is 25, and the youngest is 15. Two older daughters already have their own nuclear families and live separately from the parents.
Louise is a good-looking woman with a kind smile and a young face. It is evident that she loves her family very much; she has even felt a little nostalgic while talking to me about it. When Louise got pregnant for the first time, she gave up her job (she used to be a teacher) and dedicated her life to upbringing children and household chores. Presently, she still does not work – her husband is a lawyer, and he provides for the family.
When I asked Louise what the best thing about her marriage was, she answered that it was marriage itself. She meant that it was hard to live together for so many years and stay a family after all. She has also added that the children should be referred to as the best things about the marriage since “they are our reward for everything we have done right as a couple” (Harris).
As for the challenges, Louise laughed at first and said that there were so many of them that it was even hard to remember. However, among the most significant ones, she defined the birth of her second daughter. When she was born, the family was going through difficult times. Louise’s husband was at work most of the time, and even despite that fact, the family incomes were barely enough to make ends meet. Additionally, the elder daughter was only four years old at that time and could not help a lot. Therefore, the woman was on her own. “I remember, my hair fell out, and I felt exhausted from the very moment I opened my eyes in the morning,” Louise said (Harris).
As the second challenge the family overcame, Louise defined their “bad times as a couple” (Harris). She refused to provide any specific details but said that three major reasons helped her and her husband to get over it. Those were their children, mutual understanding appeared due to many years spent together (“we could literally read each other’s minds and continue each other’s sentences”), and the fact that both of them were very religious and could not allow a divorce to happen (Harris).
As for the gender roles in the family, Louise admits that she has wanted to dedicate her life to her husband and children from the very beginning. Therefore, I would state that her family belongs to the patriarchal type since the father has more power and authority (Kendall 451). Although Louise assures that she has always been ready for it, she also says that now she needs some time for herself. However, there were no conflicts based on this matter. Moreover, the conflicts in the family were very rare, and even when those happened, the couple always tried to resolve them by joint efforts.
The Second Interview: Emily and Brandon
The second interview I conducted was with Emily (25 years old) and Brandon (25 years old). Here I managed to interview both a husband and a wife. The couple first met during their university years, when both of them were first-year students, eight years ago. Two years ago, they got married, and the marriage was for love. Just after their wedding, the couple moved to their own place. So, they had never lived with the groom’s parents or with the bride’s family. Although it is “historically one of the least common residence patterns,” the neolocal residence is the best way to start a new and independent nuclear family (Coles 56). Presently, Emily and Brandon have no children and do not plan to have any during the next few years. I can conclude that they focus on their careers now. Both of them work: he is a software developer, and she is a journalist.
Emily is easygoing, cute, and energetic. Although she indeed is a busy woman, she has been very cooperative with the interview. She enjoyed talking about her marriage, its challenges, and strengths. It even seemed to me that while discussing it, she discovered something important for herself. As for her husband, Brandon, he was less open to dialogue (probably as the majority of other men usually are), but it still seemed to me that he gave honest answers, which is why I concluded that he was satisfied with his marriage.
First of all, I asked Emily and Brandon about the best things in their relations. Both of them gave really appealing answers. Emily says that the best thing is “how I feel when we are together” and that “both of us are happy” (E. Clark). Brandon states that it is the fact that he has found a woman he wants to spend his life with, and that is “a rare thing” (B. Clark).
Nevertheless, both of them admit some challenges in their marriage. Gradually, it turned out that they had different expectations of marriage as such. As a prime example, Emily expected that their life would be more social and active. In reality, they do not participate in a larger community a lot. Most commonly, Brandon wants them to spend their free time at home. He is more of an introvert: “When I come home exhausted, I would rather have dinner and watch a movie with Emmy than go out with people I barely know” (B. Clark). However, Brandon does not mind when Emily goes out by herself.
Additionally, Emily says that they have many unspoken rules. For example, Brandon understands that both of them are busy working, but when there are unwashed dishes in the kitchen, he gets irritated about it. As Emily says, “he seems to think that there should not be any dirty dishes by default” (E. Clark).
Emily assures that the conflicts are rare. However, she also admits that their couple is not so good at resolving them. When they quarrel, no one wants to concede and admit the possibility of being wrong, “and that is why our fights are usually bad, but when we finally calm down, everything just falls into places” (E. Clark). Emily says that both of them will have to work on mutual understanding in the future.
The family is progressive, and I would conclude that it is egalitarian since both spouses “share power and authority equally” (Kendall 451). Still, Emily is more responsible for the housework, and Brandon’s job seems to have a bit higher priority.
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Comparison of the Interviews
Two interviews I have conducted have a lot in common. Probably the most important of similarities is that both couples have married for love. However, these two women are in different life cycle stages: they are a mother and a daughter and have a significant difference in age.
The greatest difference that I have noticed while interviewing these women is that Emily talks about the strengths and weaknesses of her marriage in the present tense while Louise mainly uses the past one. The prime example is our talk about challenges. Louise describes things that have already happened, the challenges that her family has already overcome. Emily, on the contrary, talks about the challenges that they face presently. All of this reminds me of those many years that separate two couples.
Many of the remaining differences are the results of this one. For example, due to a long life together, Louise and her husband do not have many unspoken rules presently. As Parrott and Parrott state, unspoken rules “become more vocal when our spouse “breaks” them” (22). Indeed, gradually every couple discovers those. Louise and her husband have already uncovered many of them, while Emily’s family is at the very beginning of that journey.
Louise’s couple has already established family/employment priorities. Louise dedicated her life to her family, sacrificing her job, and all the household chores and parenting issues fell on her. It has never been a problem for their couple to conclude that the husband’s job has a higher priority. Emily and Brandon try to be equal in this matter. However, when a child comes, everything can change, and that is when numerous conflicts between them can appear.
Additionally, Brandon and Emily are not very religious, which means that they are deprived of an advantage that Louise and her husband have. As Louise said, it was a religion that helped her and her husband to get over their “bad times as a couple” (Harris). Therefore, her daughter’s family has only one background factor (out of three) that seems to help marriages. That is homogamy, which “exists when marriage partners are in some sense similar to each other” (Michie 728). Nevertheless, Louise’s couple had it as well, and it was not always enough.
The Things that I Have Learned from this Assignment
From this assignment, I have learned two important things. The first one is that the kind of family you have been raised in has a significant influence on the kind of family you strive to build in your own future. As proof, during the interview, Emily said, “I looked at my parents and could never allow for the possibility that my marriage would not be for love” (E. Clark).
The second thing I have learned is the same that we have concluded during our lessons – love is not enough. Louise and her husband truly love each other, but they still have faced a lot of serious challenges. During one of them, religion had to interfere to save their couple.
Summary and Conclusion
To conclude, I have interviewed two women in different life cycle stages. Their marriages have many similarities, for example, both of them are for love, and both are based on homogamy. Still, a lot of differences can be noticed. As a prime example, Louise mainly used the past tense to answer my questions, while Emily and Brandon talked about the present issues. That regularly reminded me of the difference in age and duration of the marriage. Additionally, Emily’s view of relationships is in many ways similar to her mother’s, which proves the influence of the upbringing in this regard. Finally, Emily and Brandon seem to love each other, but Louise’s experience shows that love is not always enough to deal with the problems and challenges couples face. Out of three background factors that help marriages, Emily’s couple has only one, and that is homogamy. Nevertheless, her mother’s family had not all three of them as well and managed to live thirty-three years together. That makes me believe that if Emily and Brandon fight for their future, they will have good chances to follow the example of Louise and her husband.
Clark, Brandon. Personal interview. 2015.
Clark, Emily. Personal interview. 2015.
Coles, Roberta L. Race and Family: A Structural Approach, Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, 2006. Print.
Harris, Louise. Personal intervie. 2015.
Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times. 10th ed. 2014. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning. Print.
Michie, Jonathan. Reader’s Guide to the Social Sciences. Vol. 1. New York, New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.
Parrott, Les, and Leslie Parrott. Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before–and After– You Marry, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2006. Print.