American Family over Time

Introduction to the Topic

Family life and marriages have transformed over the years. From history, marriages and families have been strong institutions. According to Gilbert (2014), marriage was mainly dictated by the socio-political and economic considerations more than love and personal satisfaction. This created a coercive marriage institution. Children that were born outside the marriage were considered illegitimate and usually turned back on. However, most of these things have changed with time. For instance, harsh penalties and ill-treatment for children born outside the wedlock have been abolished. Today many children are born outside the wedlock and get embraced by the communities. Today people have much freedom in the choice of whether whom and when to marry. Marriage is no longer based on the legal relegation of women as many of them claim to have equal rights with men; therefore, compromising subordination due to current factors such as attendance of economic equality. The other change is that women generally commit more emotional energy in their children unlike before where more concern was given to their husbands. Marriages have also become more brittle and less fulfilling as couples get into marriage with high expectations of much love, mutuality, and intimacy and when these expectations are not met, it risks a divorce. In recent years, many issues have emerged surrounding marriages and family life in general. Americans are increasingly embracing contractual marriages and non-marital cohabitation.

Oláh, Kotowska & Richter (2018) in their article give an account on how changes in the family set up have impacted marriage. Scholars have had different opinions on the reasons for such changes and their effects on marriage. In traditional marriages, marriages were not romanticized, but sociopolitical and economic interests took precedence. For instance, people getting married usually gave much consideration to how much dowry might be involved. Some people married to gain influence from in-laws or to achieve business deals or even make peace treaties. Young men were not given the freedom to choose their partners based on love. Marriages were made to follow a firm marital model which dictated that a man should dominate and a wife subordinate. This model is; however, changing with time. Today husband and wife made cooperation. Many people prefer to live together in a romantic relationship which is viewed by scholars as casual marriages. The article introduces the concept of marriage market which involves the unmarried people within the marriage-age bracket. The most recent emerging trend is the issue of same-sex marriages and families.


The two articles have a lot of similarities and converging points of view on the issues that they address. Both agree that marriage has changed from the way it was in the past. Both present the emerging issue of non-marital cohabitation as an emerging issue which increasing among the Americans. The diversity in racial and ethnic marriages is also discussed in both articles where one can marry a partner of their choice regardless of their ethnic or racial background. Other emerging issues that converge include increased divorce rates and single parenting and the issue of working parents who leave their children under the care of house helps and daycare.

Oláh, Kotowska & Richter (2018) present the concept of marriage market which is not featured in Gilbert’s (2014) article. According to the former, the prospects of marriage are reduced if the number of unmarried people in the marriage market is low. The issue of increasing children being born outside wedlock is only discussed in Gilbert’s (2014) article. Moreover, Oláh, Kotowska & Richter (2018) discusses the changes that have occurred in the roles of men and women in marriage and family.


Gilbert, L. A. (2014). Men in dual-career families: Current realities and future prospects. Psychology Press.

Oláh, L. S., Kotowska, I. E., & Richter, R. (2018). The new roles of men and women and implications for families and societies. A Demographic Perspective on Gender, Family and Health in Europe (pp. 41-64). Springer, Cham.