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University of Guelph
Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 1020
Robyn Pitman

CH.5 MARRIAGE WHY DO WE MARRY? 1. The couple may receive some exogenous payoff by marrying  by following socially normative customs, they are rewarded by society. Marriage may serve as a rite of passage into adulthood and social approval of the couple 2. Marriage may act as a commitment device  harder to end a marriage than a cohabiting union, getting married promotes relationship-specific investments such as purchasing a home or having children together 3. Marriage may be used as a signalling device to state very publicly the extent of one’s love for the partner  marriage may seem as a stronger signal of love than cohabitation • Historically people didn’t marry for love but for political or economic reasons • Marriage was important for creating family alliances • Love was expected to occur after marriage • Other reasons (today): religious purposes, emotional security, companionship, start a family, intense physical attraction to a person, or a person provide economic security, pressured by family or religious leaders, unplanned pregnancy, or biological clock is ticking, escape parental home, rebel against parental control, rebound from previous relationship or to be rescued from unsatisfying life Marriage Rates • The rate of married couples with children has been decreasing while the rate of cohabiting couples has been increasing • Marriage rate can be measured in 2 ways: 1. The crude marriage rate estimates the number of marriages for every 1000 people in a given year  Problem: the denominator includes unmarriageable people such as children 2. The general marriage rate estimates the number of people in a population eligible for marriage and restricts the denominator to unmarried women age 15 and older • Total marriage rate is the percentage of individuals who can expect to marry before age 50  Decreased Age at Marriage • The age at which people marry is increasing • Same-sex couples tend to marry somewhat later • We generally marry someone who is close to us in age (age homogamy), with husbands being slightly older than wives CH.5 MARRIAGE • As we get older the age gap between spouses increases • Marriage squeeze  mid-life and older women commonly are squeezed out of opportunities to marry because men marry younger women • Exchange theory would suggest that the man is trading wealth and status for the younger woman’s beauty • The number of eligible men in a woman’s age group decrease as the woman ages, since she must compete with younger women • Women outlive men therefore there are even fewer eligible men in the elderly age group DEFINING MARRIAGE • Traditionally marriage was defined as the voluntary union for life of one man to one women to the exclusion of all others  Lifelong commitment to another person  Heterosexual  monogamous • in 2005 the civil marriage act legalized same-sex marriage across Canada • in Canada only monogamy is legal • Monogamy is the marriage of one person to another at one time  Serial monogamy a person can have more than one marriage partner in their lifetime but must have these partners one at a time • Polygamy marriage to several individuals at the same time  Practice is supported by the values of both genders and is often linked to religious beliefs • Polygyny one man has several wives  Common form of polygamy • Polyandry one woman has multiple husbands  Rare but practiced in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia  Occurs in extreme poverty because it keeps the population from growing large • Traditionally marriage was a sacred phenomenon maintained by a higher power and socially maintained by religious institutions • Religious teachings provided the guidelines for conduct CH.5 MARRIAGE • Marriage was a social obligation (to create and nurture new members of the society) and maintained by the community • Guidelines for conduct were maintained by conformity to social norms • Modern ideas of marriage revolve around the notion that marriage is for individual growth and well-being with the goal to increase happiness • Prenuptial agreement – facilitate clear communication before marriage and help avoid unnecessary conflict if marriage dissolves • Living apart together (LAT) marriages the individuals in the marriage live in separate homes, usually in separate cities, often in separate countries, and at times in separate houses in the same neighbourhood  Sometimes short-term sometimes long-term  Main reason for LAT marriages is career advancement of one or both spouses • Sometimes one partner becomes a trailing spouse who relocates several times to follow the other partner, having to restart their own career in each new location THE TRANSITION TO MARRIAGE • Newly married couples must learn to integrate with each other and with their extended families • Requires the couple to negotiate their roles as a married couple • People have expectations about their own role and their partner’s role in the marriage but often these are assumed • Marital tasks: 1. Determine how the couple will present themselves to the larger society  also have to negotiate the meaning of their own identities as spouses (take on last name) 2. Negotiate marital boundaries  between friends, family, children, alone time 3. Determining how the household will be managed  joint bank accounts and funds, investments, bills, household labour, 4. Emotional climate  resolve conflicts, sexual script, emotional support MARRIAGE AND HEALTH • Marriage has been linked to a number of health benefits such as decreased mortality, increased cardiovascular health, increased immune system functioning, and increased psychological health • 3 common perspectives that link marriage and health: selection, protection, and marital quality hypothesis Selection CH.5 MARRIAGE • Selection hypothesis it is not marriage per se that is responsible for the link between marriage and health, but rather than healthier people tend to marry each other and unhealthy people have a harder time finding and keeping a mate • Getting married is associated with availability of suitable partners and desirability of their own traits • People with poor past health or those who show evidence of poor future health have lower rates of marriage • Assertive mating principle  people pair up with individuals much like themselves and search for the best possible match they can get in exchange for the resources they have to offer • Exchange theory  people with desired attributes will be selected as the best option in a set of available options (the unhealthy people are squeezed out of marriage) Protection • Protection hypothesis states that marriage provides social and economic supports linked with improved health • Emotional health and physical health are linked • Marriage reduces risk-taking behaviour because you are now responsible for another person • Marriage may help in the early detection of an illness so treatment can be sought in time • Social support hypothesis an explanation for the link between marriage and health. Marriage allows opportunities for social engagement and companionship that improve our well-being  Having a social network improves health • Marriage can affect our behaviour  changes our moods and influence our health habits • Married couples often begin diet and exercise programs together or insist other spouse to quit bad habits (drinking, smoking) • Marriage provide financial security  more financially secure than non-married • Less expensive for 2 people to live together than just 1 • A couple pays one rent, mortgage payment, heating bill, cable bill, utility bill • Knowing you have backup is a psychological benefit (in case you lose your job) • Mortality and morbidity are reduced for those with financial resources (pay for treatment) • Marriage is more protective of men’s health over women’s health CH.5 MARRIAGE • Women are more likely to seek social support from their friends while men seek emotional support from their wives • Men are more likely to engage in risky behaviours prior to marriage than women are Marital Quality • Quality of marriage affects link between marriage and health • Stress buffering hypothesis negative effects of stress are reduced by the presence of social support • The protection hypothesis only works if the marriage is good because a quality relationship will help eliminate stress • Bad marriages reduce health • Social strain hypothesis not only do unfulfilling marriages fail to protect the individuals involved but they can also impede the well-being of the marriage parents • Positive quality (harmony, satisfaction) is related to high levels of well-being, physiological responses to stress, reduce risky behaviours in men • Negative conflict (conflict) poor physical and psychological health, increases depression, bad health b
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