Pages:7 (2040 words)
Document Type:Creative Writing
Marriage, Love and the Division of Household Labor
What does marriage mean in the U.S. today? For roughly half the people who marry it does not mean something permanent or “till death do us part”—for half of all marriages today end in divorce and as Pew Research Center points out, family sizes are getting smaller (marriage is no longer about having children) and family types are becoming more diverse: “Two-parent households are on the decline in the United States as divorce, remarriage and cohabitation are on the rise” (Pew Research Center, 2015). This is not much of a striking departure from where the status of marriage was in the 1990s—but if one goes back 50 years or 75 years, it is definitely a departure. The fact is that divorce has become more accepted as common place and marriage is now seen as something one tries—like trying on a new outfit for a while. There is very little sense of permanence or of commitment in the long-term, as in all the way to death.
Unless there is a serious cultural change and marriage and the purpose of marriage are reevaluated I do not see marriage as a social institution having much social significance in the coming years. The meaning of it has been hollowed out, particularly as the primary purpose of marriage—having children and starting families so that there is a future generation for society—has been discouraged by society. New couples are expected to delay having kids as they “live” life and enjoy time together. If they do have kids they are expected to have maybe one or two and definitely no more than three. Large families are uncommon whereas in the past they were the norm. A cultural change has occurred in society where Egoism and selfishness are promoted and Old World values are slighted. All this will do is further erode the concept of marriage as something that requires self-sacrifice—but ultimately I think the reality will come back and people will re-understand the concept better.
To me love is putting others first and meeting their needs. It is not enough to wait for someone to ask for something. If you see that there is a need and you can help to satisfy it, you are already half-guilty of being uncharitable if you ignore it and go on about your business as if you did not see it in the first place. Love is about being charitable towards others. It can be in the way one speaks, one thinks, one acts. For me, love is not a feeling, really. I have fallen in love before. That is one of the most overwhelming experiences one can have and I think it really only happens once. Once it happens you realize that “falling in love” is almost like experiencing a powerful drug—and you really have to keep your wits about you or you can end up doing things that might ordinarily go against your better judgment. A lot of people do things because they are “in love” and they look back on them later and regret them and wish they had done things a little differently. I think with me when I fell in love I realized that I still needed to act in accordance with the principles of a higher love, a love that exists above us, if I truly wanted to love this other person.
It is easy to be in love and think only of yourself. It is a fault that people make and it actually means that you aren’t really in love with anyone but yourself. If you are in love with another person, making that person happy is all that matters to you. The problem of course is that we are all human beings and we are never going to be enough for one another. That’s just the way it is. No person can ever fully satisfy the desires of another person, and…
…of equality to re-wire themselves and tend to domestic chores since the woman also has a career.
Gerson (2010) shows that what happens next is that men stop being interested in marriage. They can fulfill their sexual needs by sleeping around or by having a girl on the side who is open to satisfying those needs without sharing a home together and having children. Here is where the problem comes in.
Men and women who have sexual intercourse are likely at some point to have a child. Women are naturally made for bearing children. Men are naturally made to impregnate women. Nature finds a way, as Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm states in the original Jurassic Park. That is the reality.
So when nature finds a way, as it invariably does, it puts certain demands on people. How will the mother and father respond to the demands of a child? Will one stay at home and nurse and raise it while the other works? Will they pass that responsibility off to a caretaker? But then one is working solely to pay for someone else to raise the child. Does this make sense or satisfy anyone?
When it comes to love, marriage and keeping the home, there are going to be roles that people have to embrace. Does it make sense for men, who generally speaking, common sense tells us, simply lack the emotional balance and skill to nurture and raise children? Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but the exception also proves the rule. Men can be great fathers, but they are mainly going to want to provide for the family—not nurture the child. The mother is generally going to be better suited for that role. Women have great emotional instincts. They themselves know this better than anyone. That is why they have traditionally been tasked with the role of tending to the domestic duties. Feminists argue that it is because of patriarchal injustices—but just because that is what Feminists…
Bianchi, S.M., Sayer, L. C., Milkie, M.A., & Robinson, J. P. (2012). Housework: Who Did, Does or Will Do It, and How Much Does it Matter? Social Forces; a Scientific Medium of Social Study and Interpretation, 91(1), 55-63. http://doi.org/10.1093/sf/sos120
Ehrenreich, B. (2000). Maid to order. Retrieved from https://www.college.columbia.edu/core/sites/core/files/pages/Ehrenreich_Maid_To_Order.pdf
Gerson, K. (2010). The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family. New York: OxfordUniversity Press.
Pew Research Center. (2015). Parenting in America. Retrieved from https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/17/1-the-american-family-today/
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