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Family: Then & Now

Updated on February 24, 2012

The idea and structure of family has shifted so much within the last 50 years. This shift is caused by changes in economics, the sex revolution among women, serial monogamy, and geographic mobility. The basic nuclear family of “yesteryear” consists of a dad, mom, son, and daughter. The father works from 8 to 5 and the mom stays at home and holds down the household. The kids obediently play along with all of this. Unfortunately, even though this may be the norm in some families it in no way represents the standard of living from any time period. Because of the media, and stories that have been passed down society tends to look upon the past as a time when people honored structure and morals. When in reality according to an article by Coontz, we are feeding into a “nostalgic trap of the golden age.” Society seems to forget that there were trials and tribulations fought back then too.Why is it that divorce was not common back then? This part of history is not made up. Just because the divorce rate was astronomically lower does not mean that society functioned any better or people were any happier. After the sex revolution for women, women started to push the bill on societal norms and many woman joined the workforce. This changed everything because in many situations the only thing that kept woman staying with their husbands was that if they left the marriage they had no kind of financial support to fall back on. After the revolution, when women became more of an independent term so did the people themselves. The next idea is serial monogamy. Men and women not just women these days will be the first to denounce polygamy and ridicule the practice even though they themselves practice something known as “serial monogamy” which in some cases is as bad as polygamy. Serial monogamy is the practice of staying faithful to your partner until it ends in breaking up or divorce and then moving on to your next match. The very institution of marriage does not seem to carry half as much weight to its meaning as it used to, because many people treat marriages as they would a dating relationship. Estranged family then stems from that. A woman could have 3 children from her first marriage, 2 with her next, and 4 with her current, and all the men that she marries come in with the same situation and then all of a sudden you have 18 children who do not know how in the world they are related to each other or if they are at all! I say all this very tongue and cheek; I do realize that there are many other factors that play into divorce moreover than what I am conveying. There are perfectly acceptable reasons to get out of a marriage if it becomes abusive and situations like that. In this article, I am speaking more to those individuals that "run off to Vegas" and get married mentality. There is then the idea of geographic mobility, which is a relatively new concept. Because of the progressiveness of transportation over the past 50 years, a new dynamic has been thrown in the mix. How do we maintain important relationships when they are long distance? I am no stranger to this concept. My immediate family lives in the San Francisco Bay Area while I am attending school in the South. I now have to try twice as hard to maintain my relationship with my mother than I did back when I was living full time with her. It is easier now to do the things that I want to do with or without her approval. This concept could be a good or bad thing depending on the type of person that you are.There are ideas that are thrown around constantly such as, it has been proposed to outlaw women from possessing jobs as a way to combat the crumbling institution of marriage. Even though this concept would not work due to the sex revolution and constitutional violations, it still stands as a way to revert back to “The Golden Age.” Many other ideas have been posed, making it a law that you must live within the same county as your family or making it a law that you can only be married once. I propose that there be more hoops to jump through to get married in the first place. To avoid making marriage a joke, why not make it a hard thing to accomplish in the first place? Only the willing and committed would go through with obstacles to reach the final product. We could start by outlawing wedding chapels, pre-nuptials, and things of that nature. All of these ideas would not work because people are so engrained into a society that functions with these proponents that would not know how to live without them. I realize the goal of marriage and family is to function as a whole and to work together but in between women in the workforce, multiple marriages, and having family members spread around the map we just have to accept that the very foundation of marriage is crumbling and there are new goals that will come about regarding marriage that we will have to adapt to.


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