The purpose of this chapter 1 is to outline how values concerning family and marriage have changed in Sweden over the past century. Generally, any attempt to write a history of values has to contend with the challenge that there seldom has been a uniform value system in any one area. Values concerning family and marriage are no exception. Such values have varied between social classes, political groups, and between regions. Even laws, that from one point of view express generally accepted societal norms, can be obsolete, or become the subject of controversy and so no longer express such general values. It is my opinion that value changes in particular societies can be illuminated only in relation to specific social groups or phenomena. The changing values concerning family and marriage that will be delineated here are in one way or another associated with family counselling or its forerunners. Thus, my focus is on ideas connected with activities directed to preserving or at least ameliorating marriages or family relations.
I concentrate on family counselling in Sweden and its ideological and cultural contexts. My presentation is historical in the sense that I describe specific time periods in the history of counselling in order to show important shifts in conceptions of marriage and in techniques used to influence married people. The presentation will take the form of snapshots rather than being a detailed historical analysis. My chief purpose is to take family counselling as a point of departure for a discourse on changing family values. As will be seen, there have been, and still are, certain inherent tensions in these values, primarily between individualism and community. These tensions have been expressed by changes in the laws, but also in values concerning what is right and wrong in procedures for intervening in marriage matters, and in the goals of such intervention. Another obvious tension concerns shifts from hierarchical to more horizontal relations between state authorities and citizens, as well as between men and women.
The chapter is divided into four parts. The first starts at the beginning of this century with a discussion of changing ideas about how disharmony and quarrels between husband and wife should be handled. Then follows a section about the kinds of vision of family life and society that inspired groups of Swedish intellectuals to engage in creating counselling centres. In the third section, the new emphasis on the social-emotional relationships in families that emerged in the
1 This chapter is a highly shortened version of a book I have written about family counselling in Sweden. See Anna Karin Kollind: Äktenskap, konflikter och rådgivning. Från medling till samtalsterapi, Stockholm: Carlssons Bokförlag 2002.