Marriage, the Family, and Personal Fulfillment

By David A. Schulz; Stanley F. Rodgers | Go to book overview

marriage never ends, particularly if there are children. It may be legally broken, but the ties inevitably go on for a while, sometimes for a lifetime.

The problem of regaining autonomy is related to the extent to which autonomy was given up in the partnership. Men and women who continued to retain a great deal of individual autonomy in their partnership will have less difficulty upon divorce. (It is also less likely that they will divorce in the first place, however.) Regaining autonomy means

. . . learning to live without somebody to lean on--but also without someone to support. There is nobody on whom to blame one's difficulties (except oneself), nobody to short-stop one's growth and nobody to grow with.

Each must regain--if he [or she] ever had it--the dependence on self and faith in one's own capacity to cope with the environment, with people, with thoughts and emotions.25

There is evidence that "divorce breeds divorce" in the sense that restrictions on obtaining divorces influence the rate of divorce, although the data on this issue is far from clear. Nevertheless, the trend toward increased divorce rates need not be a cause for alarm. Qualitatively, there is reason to believe that divorce, whatever its frequency, is preferable to conflicted, destructive partnerships. As Max Reinstein observes:

If we regard family stability as a social good, a situation of high incidence of marriage breakdown constitutes a social evil. Its reduction deserves to be an aim of social policy. But what about divorce? It does not occur by itself but only as a sequel to marriage breakdown. Insofar as divorce opens the door to legitimate remarriage and thus to the creation of new homes free of any taint of illegitimacy, It is a social good rather than an evil. But if the easy availability of divorce is conducive toward a high incidence of marriage breakdown, good social policy requires that the incidence of divorce ought also to be reduced.26


SUMMARY

Because we know so little about how nonmarital partnerships terminate, in this chapter we have chosen to focus exclusively on how marriages end. Following Goode, we can describe five types of family disorganization: the uncompleted family, the empty shell, the family disorganized by external catastrophes, the family disorganized by internal catastrophes, and those terminated by willed departures such as divorce.

Although death terminates more marriages than any other cause, divorce receives the most publicity. Currently, one divorce takes place each year for every three marriages that are contracted in that year. While 81 percent of all married persons have been married only once,

____________________
25
Lasswell and Lasswell, Love, Marriage, Family, p. 488.
26
Reinstein, Marriage, Stability, Divorce and the Law.

-324-

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Marriage, the Family, and Personal Fulfillment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xv
  • 1 - Introduction 12
  • Part One - On Becoming Partners 15
  • 2 - On Partnerships 16
  • Introduction 17
  • 3 - Confirmation and Communication 35
  • 4 - Conflict in Intimate Partnerships 55
  • Introduction 79
  • 5 - Developing Partnerships 81
  • Part Two - Human Sexuality 111
  • 6 - The Biology of Sex and Reproduction 112
  • Introduction 113
  • 7 - On Birth Control 145
  • Introduction 170
  • 8 - The Art of Lovemaking 173
  • 9 - Sex Roles and Social Interaction 195
  • Part Three - Marriage 213
  • 10 - Marriage in Historical and Cultural Perspective 214
  • Introduction 215
  • 11 - Husbands and Wives 239
  • 12 - Parents and Children 269
  • Introduction 285
  • Summary 304
  • 14 - Disorganization and Divorce 307
  • Introduction 324
  • Part Four - Alternatives 327
  • 15 - Developing Styles for Singles 329
  • 16 - Communes and Multiple Marriages 349
  • Part Five - The Future of Marriage 371
  • 17 - Fantasies, Forecasts, and Trends 372
  • Introduction 373
  • Selected Bibliography 393
  • Index 403
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