Every society consists of [people] in the process of developing from children into parents. To assure continuity of tradition, society must early prepare for parenthood in its children; and it must take care of the unavoidable remnants of infantility in its adults.
When a meaningful partnership such as marriage is entered into, the lives of many people are changed. Parents become in- laws and some old friends either lose their place of importance in the life of one of the partners or take on new importance to both. Relatives approach the couple in a new way. All these changes are bound to affect how the partners relate to one another.
Because marriage is a socially approved partnership with a long tradition behind it, it provides both the young couple and those who come in contact with them with a set of guidelines that help to shape appropriate behavior, thus easing the couple's transition into a new set of relationships. Couples without such guidelines must improvise with care if they are going to retain valued external relationships and still develop their partnership. For example, when a daughter invites her parents to meet the young man with whom she has been living for a number of months, how should the parents behave? How should the young man respond?