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Chapter 11 reading & lecture note

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Lingqin Feng

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SOC244: TEST 2
Chapter 11: Spousal and Partner Relationships (pages 300 328)
1)As a social category, men are more powerful agents of the construction of reality
than women. This macro-sociological advantage carries into intimate relationships.
2)Throughout the last half of the 20th century, the relationship between spouses has
become far more diverse than it used to be:
- First, the explosion of divorce on the familial scene has meant that martial stability can no
longer be taken for granted. Couples now enter marriage with a less secure feeling of
permanency than was the case in the past, when only death could separate them.
- Second, the massive entry of women on the labor market has resulted in more complex
feminine expectation and often more complex forms of masculine cooperation or resistance
in terms of the household division of labor. Couples now have to negotiate who does what at
various stages of family development and this situation can result in a tense relationship.
- Third, couples expectations of marriage concerning love, sexuality, and companionship
have heightened. More is demanded of marriage in terms of relationship than in the past,
while, at the same time, couples may be less patient when their expectations are not met.
3)The cultural focus of marriage as an institution has shifted to an individualistic axis
emphasizing needs and gratification.
4)The relationship between spouses has also become more diverse for the simple
reason that it now includes more categories of couples. Today, the term spouse or partner
has been extended to all couples involved in living together relationships, whether they are
cohabitants, same- sex couples or remarried couples.
Types of Marriage and How They Change: The Conflict Habituated Relationship
1)The main characteristics of the conflict-habituated relationship are tension and
unresolved conflict, some of which is overt and appears in the form of nagging and
quarrelling. Spouses seem to argue for the sake of it. When on their best behavior, these
couples are polite, particularly in the company of others. But they do not conceal from their
2)What holds their marriage together may be force of habit, the fact that the spouses
have personalities that are combative or have been so chiseled by the relationship that they
might have difficulty adjusting to a mire peaceful situation were they to divorce. In other

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cases, they cannot afford to divorce because of poverty or shred wealth and/or social
The Devitalized Relationship
1)In this relationship, the spouses had been deeply in love early on in their marriage,
had enjoyed their sex lives and have shared much together. Over time, the relationship lost
its original shine and vitality. Now these coupes simply take each other for granted but
conflict is rare, most of the time spent together is a matter of duty, to fulfill parental roles,
to present a united front to the world, and to take care of each others careers. These
couples are often exemplary parents.
2)The relationship continues because of their commonly shared duties as well as the
absence of conflict. There are generally other rewarding aspects in their lives, in which they
invest much. They celebrate anniversaries and appreciate each other as parents or workers.
The Passive-Congenial Relationship
1)The passive-congenial relationship may be quite similar to the devitalized
relationship, with the exception that couples do not have an early exciting past that has
been hollowed out through the years.
They harbor deep affection and especially respect for each other and are not disillusioned,
as are the devitalized couples.
They are quite comfortable with their situation.
They emphasize what they share, such as their total agreement on a variety of political or
religious issues, or the fact that they have similar leisure interests, parenting goals, and
social network.
2)These couples dating lives were generally uneventful, and a strong element of level-
headedness rather than passionate love was at the basis of their decision to marry.
Marriage is a secure platform from which to explore and develop other deep and passionate
interests, whether in parenting, political interests, careers, or even volunteer work.
Compatibility of background is often important. Although, some of these marriages end in
divorce, the risk is not high as for the two previous categories. Fulfills many culturally
acceptable functions for the spouses and their families.
The Reproductive-Familial Relationship

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1)This type can, to some extent, cover those marriages that are not only truly arranged
but have been encouraged for familial, rational, or social reasons rather than for romantic
Reproductive-familial marriages are characterized by a lack of romanticism and
affectionate companionship and a focus on tradition or practicalities.
The spouses tend to lead largely separate lives. The extended family system is generally
important and family visits usually result in men and women sitting and conversing
2)The spouses interact with each other for sexual purposes but with a minimum of
feelings involved. Wives are faithful sexually while men may or may not be.
Spouses may have long conversations when alone or in the presence of their children. These
conversations are cordial, may involve a great deal of mutual respect, may be supportive,
but their focus tends to be on matters related to the family, children, business, jobs, and
forthcoming celebrations. Do not relate to mutual feelings nor do they involve discussions of
the relationship or negotiations concerning the household division of labor.
These marriages can also be conflict-habituated.
The Vital and Total Relationships
1)The essence of vital relationship is sharing and togetherness. Couples value their
relationship, regularly discuss it, and, when alone, often think about it.
When they encounter conflict, they resolve it rapidly and move on. Differences are settled
easily, even though with much discussion, but without verbal insults or humiliating put-
downs, as would take place among the conflict-habituated couples.
The vital marriage is not immune to divorce, although divorce is certainly less frequent
among this category. But when a long-term vital relationship.
2)Couples in total relationship form a minority and are the stuff of novels. They are
in many ways similar to the vital couples- the main difference being that there is more
sharing at the intellectual and psychological levels, and more discussions taking place for
the sake of sharing their interests verbally as physically.
Vital couples retain their individual existences; total couples melt into the same existence,
like identical twins.
3)These couples sexual relationships are very important and are expressed in a
multitude of settings and forms. Total couples define each other as lovers and best friends.
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