Study Guide for Coontz, Stephanie Marriage, A History
a. The 1950s patterns of marriage and love were the culmination of an historical trend that started in the 18th century.
b. The love marriage was sentimentalized in the 19th century.
c. It was sexualized in the 20th century.
d. The “new” love-based marriage was unstable, e.g. it gave rise to divorce
Chapter 1 The Radical Idea of Marrying for Love
1. Why have people found “love as the
basis of marriage” such a radical idea?
a. Plato: highest love between equals (men)
b. Interferes with other commitments to extended kin
c. Interferes with commitment to God.
d. Love might be an outcome but not a reason for marriage.
e. Romantic love was outside of marriage
f. Birth (natal family or family or orientation) more important than family by marriage (family of procreation or conjugal family)
g. Interferes with civic duties and responsibilities to the larger society
Chapter 2 The Many Meanings of Marriage
2. What aspects of our ideas about
what should characterizes marriage are challenged by cross-cultural
a. lack of common residence (e.g. men’s houses)
b. lack of commensality
c. presence of spirit or ghost marriage
d. idea that children do not necessarily belong to their parents’ group
e. same sex marriage
f. marriage as between groups who are enemies
g. polygamy: polygyny and polyandry
Chapter 3 The Invention of Marriage
3. What form did the marriages take
in the earliest human societies?
a. a flexible gendered division of labor
b. sharing of resources with the whole group, not just immediate family
c. economic cooperation with the whole band, not just nuclear family
d. marriage as a bond of exchanges between groups e. lack of hierarchy and inequality.
4. What happens when historical
changes bring inequality to human societies/
a. greater and stricter gendered division of labor.
c. concerns over inheritance and “legitimacy”
d. stricter controls over women’s sexuality outside of marriage.
e. patriarchal control over women and younger men.
f. ruling circle develops the power to establish rules for marriage and divorce.
g. class endogamy
Chapter 4 Soap Operas of the Ancient World.
5. In what ways did family and
kinship develop political and economic functions after the development of
states and class divisions?
a. Marriage created bonds between aristocratic extended families.
b. Marriage consolidated property, esp. landholdings by endogamy and/or dowry.
c. Families and kinship performed most of the functions of society: including, getting justice through revenge, setting up one’s economic foundation, determining one’s political power, determining one’s place in the religious hierarchy, determining what one’s job or career were, etc.
Diagram the family and kinship history described on p. 62 and 63 on Mark Anthony and Cleopatra Chapter 5
Chapter 5 Something Borrowed: The Marital Legacy of the Classical World and Early Christianity.
6. What factors led to challenges to
the idea that kinship should structure society?
a. Democracy, the idea that impersonal status should shape political decisions.
b. The idea of universal law
c. A profession army, not aligned to specific families.
d. Christianity and the idea of universal brother and sisterhood.
7. p. 71 Why was loyalty to country foreign to the thinking of the aristocracy?
8. p. 72 Why did the Athenian middle and lower-income groups prefer a tyrant to the status quo?
9. p. 73 Why did Aristotle think that one’s primary loyalty should be to the state and not to kin?
10. What did the introduction of
Christianity bring to the challenge to kin-based societies?
a. Attempted to be the institution that governed and sanctioned marriage and divorce.
b. Valued celibacy over marriage.
c. Condemned divorce and polygyny
Chapter 6 Playing the Bishop, Capturing the Queen: Aristocratic Marriages on Early Medieval Europe and Chapter 7 How the Other 95 Percent Wed
11. What strategies did the kings use
to keep the noble families from becoming rivals?
a. In Byzantium eunuchs appointed to court offices (also in China) who would not have children and families to rival him.
b. Making peace by intermarriage.
c. Christian reforms would limit the nobles’ ability to use divorce and remarriage as strategies for accumulating wealth and power.
d. Monogamous marriage that would establish only “legitimate” children could inherit.
e. Extension of incest prohibitions to 7th degree led to more inclusive noble class over nations.
f. Church took over the legitimating of a marriage in 1215 by establishing rules that said clandestine marriage by consent was prohibited. However, it would still recognize it as valid since it said that marriage was an unbreakable bond between two people who consent.
g. Church prohibited divorce, except for adultery, heresy, or extreme cruelty and also prohibited remarriage after divorce.
12. What were the marriage patterns
among the non-aristocratic 95%?
a. Gender roles meant that marriage was necessary to establish an economically viable household.
b. Households needed the mutual assistance of neighboring households, who then also had a stake in who you married and how you behaved within marriage. Charivaris for henpecked husbands.
c. Marriage, not children, conferred adult status.
d. Married women lost rights in property.
e. Husband was responsible for wife and her actions.
f. Wives were to respect their husband’s authority and not diminish it by using pet names for him in public.
Chapter 8 Something Old, Something New: Western European Marriage at the Dawn of the Modern Age.
13. What characteristic of pre-modern
northern and Western Europe were different than other regions and set the
stage for our modern notions of marriage?
a. A married couple established a separate economic household
b. Polygamy was prohibited.
c. Notion that a person should consent to marriage.
d. Later age at marriage
e. Unmarried young adults had to work to build a dowry or job training worked as servants or apprentices.
f. Higher rates of non-marriage.
g. When they did wed, they placed more emphasis on the couple
h. A harmonious marriage was good for business.
i. More sharing of work and resources among fellow villagers, who were less likely to be kin because of the Church rules prohibiting marriages among kin to the 4th degree.
j. Lower fertility
k. Larger pool of unmarried labor than elsewhere
l. Women’s job experience, living apart from parents, and later age of marriage made them more independent.
m. New emphasis on couple’s right to privacy in their actual relationship (without the hassle of neighbors intervening)
n. Increased penalties for sex outside of marriage.
Chapter 9 From Yoke Mates to Soul Mates, Emergence of the Love Match and the Male Provider Marriage and Chapter 10 “Two Birds Within One Nest”
14. What made the marriage ideal of the
late 18th century in Europe and U.S. change to one that was
unprecedented historically and comparatively, that is, that marriage should
be based upon romantic love?
a. Market economy: economic separation of parents from children with wage labor. And the split between women and men’s access to well-paying jobs. This helped create the male breadwinner household and the ideal of separate spheres.
b. Enlightenment: a more secular, scientific view of marriage as a private contract
c. Revolutionary ideals of democracy and individual rights and notions of egalitarianism.
15. What characterized the Victorian
family values and structure?
a. Male breadwinner, female homemaker
b. Separate spheres
c. Emphasis on personal morality as defined by sexual purity, especially female sexual purity in what Coontz called the “cult of female purity”
d. Sentimentalization of marriage and home.
e. Women were considered more moral than men and the home more moral than the world outside.
f. Women were not considered to be sexual, if they were “normal”
g. Legal coverture of the wife by the husband (Chapter 11, p. 186)
h. Narrowing of circle of affection to the conjugal family (as noted in changes in holiday celebration from a community to a family focus)
i. Class differences in practice because low-income families needed the wife to be employed.
j. More emphasis on conjugal family privacy, e.g. in honeymoon
k. Women, since they were thought to be more moral, could refuse their husbands’ demands for sex.
l. veneration of same-sex friendships
m. sanctity of mother and motherhood
n. Some women took the idea of their greater morality into the public sphere in social purity movements against slavery, against alcohol and drug use, against prostitution, and against child labor.
o. Labor union organizers used the male breadwinner model to argue for a “family wage.”
15. Discuss p. 159 and 162 on the relationship between class and ideals of female purity.
Chapter 11: “A Heaving Volcano” Beneath the Surface of Victorian Marriage
16. What issues arose from the
middle-class ideal of a good Victorian Marriage?
a. Fear of sexual impropriety (e.g. white and dark meat instead of breast and thigh)
b. Love and intimacy thwarted by the idea of separate spheres and separate personalities.
c. Sexual pleasure lessened, esp. for women, but also for men
d. Undermined the gender hierarchy of older forms of marriage
e. Higher divorce rate (but still very low)
f. Women needed to marry for survival, which ran counter to the ideal of marriage for love.
g. Male dominance still preserved in the law of coverture contradicted notions of love marriage.
h. Men strained under full responsibility for providing for “his” family.
i. As girl’s education advanced they wanted more involvement in the public sphere.
j. More demand for birth control, but a conservative backlash against it in the Comstock Law of 1873, which banned contraception and abortion and made it a crime to advertise.
k. A growing women’s rights movement
Chapter 12 “The Time When Mountains Move Has Come”: From Sentimental to Sexual Marriage
17. What changes occurred in the 1920s
to marriage and family?
a. the flapper (loved dancing, short hair, and short skirts and abandoned the corset)
b. more sexual relationship between husband and wife
c. more dating and informal heterosexual socializing.
d. sex was a focus of scientific and popular research and analysis (Sigmund Freud, Havelock Ellis)
e. the car as a route to coupling.
f. alcohol and drug experimentation
g. more pre-marital sex and affairs during marriage
h. movies were a source of popular ideals about dating and sex
i. rejection of close same-sex relationships
j. socializing in couples
k. backlash against feminism
l. women were to date and experiment with intimacy and to control men’s advances
m. eugenics movement and prohibition against interracial marriage (by 1913, 42 states had passed anti-miscegenation laws)
n. rise of marriage counseling
Chapter 13 Making Do, Then Making Babies: Marriage in the Great Depression
18. What effects did the Depression and
WWII have on love and marriage?
a. ended the Jazz age and its emphasis on experimentations with dating, love, and intimacy
b. abortion available to marriage women, who couldn’t support so many children
c more married women got jobs
d. married women’s housework increased in order to make do with less
e. reaction against women’s employment, esp. if her husband had a job.
f. government programs to support families
* Social Security Act of 1935: two-tier system of entitlements for some families and “welfare” for other
* social security payments were greater for married couple than for singles.
* GI Bill
Chapter 14 The Era of Ozzie and Harriet: The Long Decade of “Traditional Marriage”
19. What characterized the era of the
1950s and 60s and why does Coontz call the culmination of two centuries of
a. Never before had so many people found their own mates.
b. Emphasis on marriage and married couple socializing.
c. One “normal”: male breadwinner, female homemaker family
d. Single people were not “normal”
e. Women turned to marriage and homemaking as the only source of their own happiness
f. Introduction of family entertainment with the TV, and its programs focused on families
g. The Baby Boom: Increase in number of children (from the pre-war period).
h. More people in own homes separate from extended family in the suburbs.
i. Mass consumption, but with the homemaker and nuclear family as the focus of advertising
j. More women in college, but to get their MRS degree
k. Economic boom period but rapid expansion of jobs
l. Laws still restricted married women’s rights with husband as head of household
m. Beginnings of sexualization of mass culture.
Chapter 15: Winds of Change Marriage in the 1960s and 1970s and Chapter 16: The Perfect Storm: The Transformation of Marriage at the End of the Twentieth Century
20. What changes occurred in the late 1960s to the turn of the century in love, marriage, and gender?
a. Marriage less central to young women’s lives
b. Emphasis on youth culture and mass consumption focused on younger people
c. More pre-marital sex
d. More cohabitation
e. More divorce, which began to level off and decline in 1981. Introduction of no-fault divorce.
f. Less conformity
g. Later age of marriage and fewer children
h. More education for women and more careers
i. Women less dependent upon men.
j. Feminist challenges to the laws
k. Availability of contraception and abortion
l. 1967 end to anti-miscegination laws as Supreme Court overturns Loving v. Virginia
m. 1968 End to legal distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children in Supreme Court ruling Levy v. Louisiana
n. Men were retiring earlier
o. Challenges to the gender roles
p. More single-person households
q. Dual earner families (as opposed to male breadwinner, female homemaker family)
r. p. 271 more couples expect complete fidelity during marriage.
s. More single-person households
21. What has stayed the same?
a. Emphasis upon love in marriage
c. High standard for a good marriage
d. Marriage still confers legal and financial advantages.
e. Women still do more childcare and housework
22. How do families manage to balance the demands of work and family? p. 261 Discuss lack of supports for working families
23. What is the future of family?
a. Will cohabitation and marriage be considered the same?
b. Will gay marriage be enacted?
c. What impacts will the new reproductive technologies have?
d. Will the greater % of women in college have an effect on marriage
24. Discuss p. 286 on what people are looking for in a marriage partner and p. 300 on Orenstein’s study of women’s hopes and dreams for marriage.
25. Among lower-income population, fewer people marry; why does class make a difference in marriage patterns?
26. Marriage has become more joyful, more loving, and more satisfying; but also
more brittle and more optional.
What factors kept marriages from
reaching this point until the late 20th century?
a. The idea that marriage should be controlled by extended family, kin, neighbors, government, law and religious institutions; otherwise it would be subversive
b. The idea that men and women are very different from one another and that this difference is biological
c. Unreliable contraception and harsh penalties for illegitimacy
d. Women’s economic and legal dependence upon men.