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Section II: The Case for Promoting Marriage

Advanced Psychology Seminar

 

Discussion Questions
Think of an example of a happy couple. What are the components that most strongly contribute to the couple’s happiness?

Is it better to be married than alone? Why?

Why do you think marriage is fragile today?

Assuming that marriages of today are endangered (as evidenced in lower marriage rates and raising divorce rates), what is the solution?

Critique the proposed individualistic view of current marriage. Discuss positives and negatives based on your experience and opinions.

What role might an emerging focus on equal rights play in how marriage is viewed?

Discuss the dilemma facing African American women in terms of marriage. Do you believe things are changing for this group?

Which of Cherlin’s three options in the future of marriage do you believe is the most likely? Why?


Is Marriage Right for Us All and Always?
Research should compare married, single, and divorced on well-being. Also:

    Advantages remain when psych and social factors are controlled

    Marriage benefits are not limited to those in good marriages

    Good marriages are more beneficial than other lifestyles

    Marriage benefits prevail regardless of SES, ethnicity, and rural vs. urban

    Effect sizes of measured advantages are substantive


The State of Matrimony in the U. S.
Between 1970 and 1996, the proportion of 25 to 29 year olds who had never married more than tripled for women.

Cohabitation is increases; half of women in their 30s by mid-1900s

By 35-39, vast majority of White women but only 65% of African American (AA) women marry

27% births to White women occur outside marriage but 69% do for AA women


Americans Still Value Marriage
Americans remain convinced that married people are happier than those who never marry.

Americans have become more open to choices that lead them to postpone marriage; thus, marriage has become an ideal.

Unmarried AA and Hispanics (H) showed more interest in getting married than unmarried Whites, as did those with lower SES

Family building goals may become less of a sequence of events and more of a group of objectives.


Problems in Finding a Viable Mate
Some must choose within a dilemma: They can marry someone who has few virtues to offer and many liabilities, or not marry at all.

Reasons for refraining:
    Hoping to find men who would help provide economic support.
    Refrained from marrying because marriage announces one’s class standing.
    Remaining single or cohabiting gave them more control over decision making
    Concerns about trustworthiness of men.

Concludes that hesitation to marry for lower income does not signal devaluation of marriage; in fact, many do so out of deep respect for the institution.


Premarital Signs of Future Distress and Divorce
    Rocky, turbulent courtship
    Personality: lack of conscientiousness, independent-mindedness, and anxiety
    Men: all three
    Women: anxiety
Sweet, undramatic courtship – “good-hearted;” courtship smooth and marriage endures

Passionate courtship – early sex and relational commitment
    As newlyweds, more affectionate than most
    After 2 years, still affectionate but more apt to be headed toward divorce


Emotional Climate of Marriage and Divorce
    Happy, stable marriages are built as much on a foundation of love and affection as on the absence of strife.
    Warm: high in affection, low in antagonism
    Tempestuous: high in affection, high in antagonism
    Bland: low in affection, low in antagonism
    Hostile: low in affection, high in antagonism

Both happy and not happy marriages had distinctive emotional climates at the outset of their marriages which did not change

“Mixed blessing” marriages survive because a favorable balance exists between a marriage’s positive and negative elements

“Momentary mates” were young, and marriage afforded them a chance to escape unhappy homes.

Thus: people’s personality makeup and social attitudes are deeply etched into their being by the time they reach adulthood, and though not immutable, they are relatively stable. It makes sense that given the stability of adult personality, it predicted how partners behaved and felt about their marriages 14 years later.

The Case For Promoting Healthy Choices
Some argue that marriages have become fragile because partners today are less willing than they once were to be generous, endure hardship, and show loyalty, particularly when the marriage is not going well.

Others argue that an increased focus on self, inherent in the growing individualism in western societies, enables emergence of more egalitarian relationships.

Oklahoma Marriage Initiative

"I am enjoying these exercises, and I agree our society has too much divorce, but it doesn’t seem right to me that a woman should stick with a man when she’s miserable, or settle for one who doesn’t make her happy."


Discussion Questions
Think of an example of a happy couple. What are the components that most strongly contribute to the couple’s happiness?

Is it better to be married than alone? Why?

Why do you think marriage is fragile today?

Assuming that marriages of today are endangered (as evidenced in lower marriage rates and raising divorce rates), what is the solution?

Critique the proposed individualistic view of current marriage. Discuss positives and negatives based on your experience and opinions.

What role might an emerging focus on equal rights play in how marriage is viewed?

Discuss the dilemma facing African American women in terms of marriage. Do you believe things are changing for this group?

Which of Cherlin’s three options in the future of marriage do you believe is the most likely? Why?