The Emergence Of The Not So Nuclear Family: A Study Of Modern American Matrimony And Family Structure

3097 words - 13 pages

American matrimony has experienced radical shifts within the last decade due to social and economic transformations. Rather than argue that marriage is dying, this study addresses marriage as a metamorphic dynamic promoted by various factors unique to this modern age. These shifts affecting marriage dynamics end up affecting the children as well, thus altering the family dynamic. The notion of marriage is a cultural ideal that is promoted here in the United States, but this notion has become a political and social battlefield. In this study, I argue that different patterns of childrearing are the key to understanding class differences in marriage and parenthood, not an unintended ...view middle of the document...

A new version is emerging—this version is egalitarian, committed, and focused on children. There was a time when college-educated women were the least likely to be married. Today, they are the most important drivers of the new marriage model. Unlike their European counterparts, increasingly ambivalent about marriage, college graduates in the United States are reinventing marriage as a child-rearing machine for a post-feminist society and a knowledge economy (Murray, 2013). It’s working, too: their marriages offer more satisfaction, last longer, and produce more successful children. The glue for these marriages is not sex, religion, or money, but a joint commitment to high-investment parenting (HIP) marriages. Right now, these marriages are concentrated at the top of the social ladder, but they offer the most promising hope for saving the institution of marriage in America.
Matrimony is thriving among the wealthy, but dissipating among the poor – creating a marriage gap. Today, educated women are more likely to marry in their early 40s than high-school dropouts (Amato, Passel, Wang, & Livingston, 2011). In 2007, American marriage trends reached a crucial benchmark – this was the first year that rates of marriage by age 30 were higher for college graduates than non-graduates. Young professionals, both men and women are now more likely to delay marriage as they focus on their careers or furthering their education, yet these individuals are the main purveyors of the new model of marriage we see today. Marriage today is difficult to analyze because it has multiple structures. The legalization of same sex marriages, divorce and remarriage, cohabitation, step families and even delayed childbearing renders the typical monolithic institution almost obsolete. Even among these mixed marital shapes,
MONEY Male breadwinner, dependent wife Independent incomes Shared earnings
GENDER Him: Work
Her: Home with kids Both work, regardless of gender Shared responsibilities for parenting, home and earning
PARENTING Mom keeps kids entertained and fed Kids? Eh, no thanks Heavy investment, help with homework, PTL meetings
DINNER Roast and potatoes Thai Whole Foods
SATURDAY Him: Golf with the guys
Her: Coffee and laundry DAY: movie at the theater NIGHT: wine with friends Coffee in insulated cup on the way to soccer/dance/piano/baseball
WATCHING Him: Super Bowl
Her: Super Bowl commercials Netflix Binge Modern Family, American Idol or any week late DVD
MOST LIKELY TO SAY “Honey, I’m home!” “You complete me” “Put it on the calendar”
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY “You complete me” “Lets just stick it out” “Any idea what the kids are up to?”
-4572001097915FIGURE I
three models can be identified: traditional marriage, romantic marriages and high investment parenting “HIP” marriages, each motivated by different key elements. Figure 1...


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