SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Monogamy, Assortative Mating, Social Exchange Theory
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Chapter five: Marriage
Why do we Marry?
+ 1. couple may receive some exogenous payoff by marrying. By following socially normative
customs, they're rewarded by society. Marriage serve as a rite of passage into adulthood and
social approval of the couple
+ 2. marriage act as a commitment device – harder to end a marriage than to end a cohabiting
union, getting married promote relationship-specific investment such as purchasing a
home/having children together
+ 3. marriage may be used as a signaling device to state very publicly the extent of one's love for
–marriage is a stronger signal of love than cohabitation
+ majority of couples got married because it served as a commitment device
–historically, people didn't marry for marriage but for political/economic reasons
+ marriage important in terms of creating family alliances
+ love expected to occur after marriage
–now, reasons for marriage vary
+ people marry for religious reasons
+ important of serving a higher power
+ emotional security
+ want to get married before starting a family – important to be married before children are
brought into relationship
–additional reasons for getting married
+ intense physical attraction to a person
+ partner provides economic security
+ pressured into it by family or religious leaders
+ escape parental home, rebel parental control, to rebound from previous relationship, or to be
rescued from an unsatisfying life
–marriage rate can be measured in two ways:
+ crude marriage rate: estimates the number of marriages for ever 1000 people in a given year.
Problem with this measure is that the denominator in this equation includes unmarriageable
people such as children and therefore is not a good indicator of the likelihood of marriage. Using
general marriage rate gets around this problem
+ 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. This eliminates children
from the equation.
–Total first marriage rate: percentage of individuals who can expect to marry before age 50
Age at Marriage:
–the age at which people marry is increasing
–same-sex couples tend to marry somewhat later
–people generally marry someone who is close to them in age (age homogamy), with husbands
being slightly older (by about 2 years) than wives, especially when they are young
+ as they get older, the age gap between spouses increases – can lead to a marriage squeeze where
mid-life and older women commonly are squeezed out of opportunities to marry. This occurs
because men marry younger women.
- exchange theory suggest that men is trading wealth and status for the younger woman's beauty
–traditionally, marriage was defined as the voluntary union for life of one man to one woman to the
exclusion of all others.
+ implies a lifelong commitment to another person and also that the marriage is heterosexual and
+ because of this definition, gay and lesbian couples were not able to marry or divorce until
–in Canada, only monogamy is legal.
+ Monogamy is the marriage of one person to another at one time
+ often practice serial monogamy: a person can have more than one marriage partner in his or her
life time but must have these partners one at a time (get a divorce and then remarry)
–some areas of country practice polygamy: marriage to several individuals at the same time.
+ practice supported by the values of both genders and is often linked to religious beliefs.
+ most common form worldwide is polygyny: one man has several wives
+ polyandry: marital practice in which one woman has multiple husbands
–fairly novel way to be married today is living apart together/ LAT marriages
+ formerly called commuter marriages
+ 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 neighborhood
+ a short-term arrangement, while for others this can be a lifelong living arrangement
+ main reason: career advancement of one or both spouses forcing them to live apart.
The Transition to Marriage:
–transition to marriage is the time when a newly married couple must learn to integrate with each
other and with their extended families
+ transition requires the couple to negotiate their roles as a married couple
–prenuptial agreement: a type of agreement is a legal document that specifies how premarital
assets will be divided if the marriage were to end
–few common marital “tasks” that must be negotiated by newly married couple
+ first task: determine how couple will present themselves to the larger society. The couple must
find their unique place or identity within their extended family network that they then present
outwardly through their social interactions. They also have to negotiate the meaning of their own
new identities as spouses in their relationship.
+ second task: negotiate marital boundaries. How much time should be spent together as a couple
vs family and friends. Is it okay for a woman to go clubbing? Or should they do it together.
- the more investments you make, harder it is to dissolve the marriage – creating barriers to
+ “emotional climate” of the marriage must be negotiated. “Sexual scripts” involved and different
type of socialization exposed to different partners. A couple needs to negotiate how best to
provide emotional support to each other. Conflict resolution. Providing support.
Marriage and Health:
–generally believed that marriage is good for one's health
+ linked to a number of health benefits such as decreased mortality, increased cardiovascular
health, increased immune system functioning, and increased psychological health.
+ three common perspectives that explain the link between marriage and health: selection,
protection, and marital quality hypothesis.
–selection hypothesis: it's not the marriage per se that is responsible for the link between marriage
and health. Rather, healthier people tend to marry each other and unhealthy people have a harder
time finding and keeping a mate.
–Getting married is associated with the availability of suitable partners (who is available) and the
desirability of our own traits (how desirable we are to potential mates)
–people with poor past health or those who show evidence of poor future health have lower rates of
marriage – explained by exchange theory & assortative 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 suggests people with desired attributes will be winners in the mating game
+ they'll be selected as the best option in a set of available options → healthy people tend to
marry each other and unhealthy people are left to marry similarly unhealthy people or do not
marry at all (get squeezed out of marriage)
–marriage doesn't cause better health.
+ marriage does seem to provide health benefits beyond the selection effect.
–protection hypothesis: marriage provides social and economic supports that are linked with
+ ie: marriage improves physical health by improving emotional health – emotional health and
physical health are linked
+ marriage also reduces risk-taking behavior.
+ can help in early detection of an illness so that treatment can be sought in time for it to be
–Social support hypothesis: an explanation for the link between marriage and health
+ marriage allows us opportunities for social engagement and companionship
+ through marriage, we extend our social networks to include those of the spouse – offers many
opportunities to interact with others. Development of these friendship can provide meaning in our
lives. Regular contact with other individuals promotes well-being – we feel loved and valued by
our family and friends.
+ individuals who report having positive relationships throughout their life report fewer
physiological problems later in life – having a social network can improve your health
–marriage can affect behavior.
+ can change moods and influence our health habits.
+ married couples often begin diet and exercise programs together
+ or one spouse will insist that the other has quit his/her drinking or smoking habit
–marriage may also provide financial security
+ marriage individuals are generally more financially secure than the non-married
+ it's less expensive for two people to live together than for two people to live alone
–marriage is more protective of men's health than of women's health – women tend to have more
intimate sources of social support than men do
+ when women need someone to listen to their problems, they often call friends who provide
them with moral support
+ 1. couple may receive some exogenous payoff by marrying. By following socially normative customs, they"re rewarded by society. Marriage serve as a rite of passage into adulthood and social approval of the couple. + 2. marriage act as a commitment device harder to end a marriage than to end a cohabiting union, getting married promote relationship-specific investment such as purchasing a home/having children together. + 3. marriage may be used as a signaling device to state very publicly the extent of one"s love for the partner. Marriage is a stronger signal of love than cohabitation. + majority of couples got married because it served as a commitment device. Historically, people didn"t marry for marriage but for political/economic reasons. + marriage important in terms of creating family alliances. + want to get married before starting a family important to be married before children are brought into relationship. + pressured into it by family or religious leaders.