Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family

By Murray A. Straus; Richard J. Gelles et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Marital Conflict and Marital Violence

It's Saturday night, and from most of the houses in Ed and Sally Anderson's subdivision come sounds of television and children being put to bed. But at Ed and Sally's, angry voices can be beard rising louder and louder.

"Ed and Sally?" says a neighbor. "Oh yeah, they argue all the time. It really gets bad sometimes. Why just last week we had them over--started going at each other right at the dinner table, arguing over their kid's bike. Ed ran over it when be drove in the driveway--said Sally should teach the kid to keep his stuff out of the way. Sally said be drove like a maniac and never watched where be was going--said he never picked up his stuff either, and the kid was just copying him. Gee, it turned into a real row--embarrassing for us, you know? It's the last time we ask them here."

Like most Americans, Ed and Sally's neighbors view marital conflict--either verbal or physical--as something to be avoided. "Harmony" is the ideal. Most people agree that some marital conflict is inevitable, but it is looked on with distaste and embarrassment, something that one can and should avoid.

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