Love in Marriage is a Relatively New Idea

marriage

Love in Marriage is a Relatively New Idea

We think of love as the reason for marriage as a foregone conclusion. Historically speaking, that isn’t the case. Love in ancient Greece was thought of as a mental illness, as was it in Medieval Europe. In France in the Middle Ages it was thought to be cured with intercourse with the beloved or some other. Marriage on the other hand was to combine wealth and for political power. It was also to make children to work family farms. Parents would be shocked in those days if their children wanted to marry for love.

Physical attraction has always been a part of marriage. The world over and throughout history polygamy has been the most popular form of marriage. It even appears in the Bible with King Solomon and David who had many, many wives. In a certain culture in Tibet, the Na people have the women go to the next village to conceive. Then they raise the children with their brothers. The children don’t have any parents like we think of them. They are raised by the whole village. Like that African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Too much love within marriage was thought to poison throughout ancient and medieval times in the West. However with the American and French Revolutions we saw a change in mindset. People were concerned with their personal freedoms and the pursuit of their own happiness, as Jefferson so eloquently put it. Working for a salary instead of on the farm helped break marriage away from the economic sphere and to the sphere of the heart. Only in the middle of the nineteenth century did Americans begin marrying for love. They convinced themselves that it was the only reason to marry and that it had always been so.

The largest group to marry was the returning G.I.s and their Rosie the Riveter’s just after World War II. The men worked and the women stayed home to care for it and the children. Salaries rose for men. But a lot of women found it confining. Enter the women’s liberation movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. Women flooded the workforce. Soon we saw no fault divorces, the biggest years were between 1978 and 1980. 67% of divorces are filed by women. Today we are seeing vast changes. Some wonder if it is the end of marriage as we know it. But no one is tying the knot in America today, or at least not saying they are, without being in love. To learn more on this topic read, Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz.

Why do Baby Boomers Divorce the Most?

boomers

Why do Baby Boomers Divorce the Most?

Though it’s always quoted as hovering around 50%, the divorce rate in America is now closer to 40% than 50%. This is true for almost every demographic except the baby boomer, those born between 1945 and 1964. For them the rate has grown to 50% in two decades. So why do baby boomers divorce the most? Some experts have posited that since baby boomers came up in an age of great prosperity and challenged every aspect of conventional society from gender inequality to civil rights, they are now challenging what it means to be middle-aged and redefining marriage and relationships too. Others say that they are looking for a relationship that is unattainable, perfection. Still others believe that they want the most out of life, including attraction and sexual satisfaction in their partners. As baby boomers age their peculiarities will be of much study to psychologists, demographers, sociologists and many others. The question will be how marriage and relationships change in this important demographic as they continue to age and what unique qualities will there be when they are seniors.

Baby boomers were the first generation to reject traditional gender roles outright. With the advent of the birth control pill came the sexual revolution as well as great strides in feminism. Of course this was also the generation that challenged the traditional notion of marriage and enacted a record number of divorces through the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. It may be their propensity toward divorce that causes their children, the Gen X, Gen Y and Millennial generations to wait longer to get married and start a family. It may also be the reason that the younger generations are cohabitating more. Of course financial considerations also come into play, and perhaps are more of a cause.  But the baby boomers paved the way to make it possible. The mistakes of the baby boomers and their propensity toward divorce may have also made marriages much more stable, decreasing the divorce rate among later generations. This is because people are much more serious when entering into a marriage. They take it very seriously, do not want to be divorced and so they wait and make sure the person is the right one before going ahead and getting married. If you are looking for a relationship as a divorcee from the baby boomer generation, read the book, Boomers Guide to Dating (Again) by Laurie A. Helgoe, Ph.D.

Do Men Avoid Dating Successful Women?

SUCCESS-WOMAN

Do Men Avoid Dating Successful Women?

For the first time in American history, women are surpassing men in bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Single, professional women are one of the fastest growing demographics in the country. Though they still do not make what a man does for the same job in many places, in some urban areas professional women’s salaries are outpacing men. What’s more, over half of all households will see a female breadwinner by 2025. That is amazing progress in a very short period of time, though the feminist movement has its roots a long way back in American history. Some women however say their success in the scholarly and economic realms is having negative consequences on their dating life. There are professional women who say the men they date are intimidated. They either pull away or blow them off due to a discomfort with the woman’s success. Perhaps these men find it emasculating, it is thought. Lots of these women’s girlfriends today console them by saying so, at least. There is even a school of thought that says a woman should dumb herself down in a man’s presence in order to make him feel comfortable and allow the relationship room to grow. But is it true? Do men avoid dating successful women?

Sure there is a segment in the male domain that pine for the 1950s. They believe in traditional values and are put off by women who are independent. But is this the majority of men? Certainly not. Nor is it right to generalize, which in addition to being inaccurate is in a way sexist since it paints all men as antiquated, chauvinists. There are lots of men who appreciate the success, knowledge, skills and other aspects of an accomplished woman. They also want a partner to share interesting times and conversations with, someone with many facets and dimensions, just as women do.  In fact, there are a lot of men who brag about the accomplishments of their wives and girlfriends. There is too a growing segment of stay-at-home dads and lots who enjoy it. So what’s really going on here? Their selection process could be an issue. What kind of men is this person seeking? What qualities do they all hold in common? Are they chauvinists, traditional or perhaps they fear commitment? The woman herself may also be subconsciously sabotaging her chances at love due to some deep-seeded trauma. Another aspect, it might be the woman’s personality itself. Pushiness, vanity, decisiveness, being opinionated and other aggressive behaviors propel some forward in their career. But on the dating scene these qualities are a huge turnoff.

In terms of selection process, lots of women say they want a man who is just as accomplished or more. But then are they selecting someone who is also decisive, aggressive and opinionated? When two people share such personalities the relationship quickly becomes an arena of locking horns rather than a relaxing atmosphere where love and romance can flourish. Only selecting this type, a person who fits a checklist of certain career accomplishments also shows underlying issues. This person worries of what others think or has a need to project their value. One’s relationship can be seen as a reflection of one’s self. But why don’t they explore other sides of their personality? We don’t have to date someone we view as a colleague. Looking for someone to love is not the same as a job interview. So someone who is opinionated may enjoy hanging out with someone who is open-minded, shy, artistic and free spirited. This may nourish other aspects that are suppressed in their normal, workaday environment. A professional woman may be interested in someone who is accomplished but in a totally different field or way. Lastly, sometimes this attitude that no men are good is an armor to protect from the fear that they themselves are at fault, or doing something wrong. Each person brings problems into a relationship, big and small. No one is perfect. We are all human. But it is in examining our mistakes and our own flaws that we can grow and develop and become better. There’s an old Buddhist saying; when the disciple is ready the master will appear. When the heart is ready, love will be there. For more savvy ways to navigate your love life read, Love Smart: Find the One You Want–Fix the One You Got by Dr. Phil McGraw.

Men are caught in Gender Roles says study

gender roles

Men are caught in Gender Roles says study

Today society allows or even encourages women to take on traditionally male roles such as working outside the home. There are lots of households where for the first time the woman makes more than the man. However, according to a new study, men are caught in gender roles and it may be to society’s detriment. There has been tremendous change for the charge of feminism. We have seen dramatic transformations in American attitudes toward homosexuals. However, our concept on heterosexual masculinity hasn’t changed. Though we are seeing more stay at home dads, they make up only 1% of marriages. Men continue to be rare in traditional female industries such as childcare, nursing or secretarial work. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 51% of Americans believed that children were raised better if their mother remained in the home. Yet, a scant 8% said this about fathers. Even wanting time off was considered less masculine according to a study out of the University of Florida.

In our overtly masculine culture, even though gender roles have changed for women, any boy who exhibits feminine behavior is still ostracized. Sociology professor Barbara Risman of the University of Chicago said of this phenomenon, “If girls call themselves tomboys, it’s with a sense of pride. But boys make fun of other boys if they step just a little outside the rigid masculine stereotype.” Global Toy Experts did a survey and found that over 50% of women wouldn’t give their son a doll, but only 32% said the same thing about giving a toy truck or car to a girl.

Boys don’t veer off from masculine toys. Those that do, try on dresses, wear pink or like Disney Princesses are maligned by their peers and thought of as weird or strange by adults. Some students are even threatened and ridiculed. A story recently in the L.A. Times talked about a Los Angeles couple who was slurred on the internet because their son preferred traditionally female toys to male ones, even though he self-identifies with being a boy. Though between the years of 1971 to 2011 women have flooded into male industries such as law, finance, business, and the hard sciences, only 2% of men have gone into education, the arts and so on. How will this play out as our society progresses? Will we see a loss of femininity in our culture? Or will men become more feminine? In the decades to come even more sweeping changes are bound to shift our society. For more on this topic, read Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine.

Gender Roles have made a Dramatic Shift

stay-at-home-dad

Gender Roles have made a Dramatic Shift

47% of the workforce will be women by 2050. In 1950 that number was 30%. Though we take our ideas of gender roles, men the breadwinners and women the housekeepers, from outdated 1950’s style thinking, the truth is that throughout history men and women have worked together in different ways to provide for the family and manage the household. The number of women may even surpass the number of men in the short term. Gender roles have made a dramatic shift due to the Great Recession.

Traditional male employment industries such as construction and manufacturing took a nose dive. Meanwhile, the only industries that seemed to have survived and thrive are those traditionally the spheres of women such as healthcare, the service industry and education. So does that mean that men are flooding the household realm while the women work outside of the home? Though there has been an uptick in househusbands, research has shown that there is no flood of men into the home. A 2009 New York Times article points out that women who are laid off spend their extra time doting on the children. Time spent with the children remained low no matter if the man was gainfully employed or not.

While the focus used to be more on the job search and the nuts and bolts of finding employment, the emotional sphere seems to be making its way to the forefront as well. Psychologists are noting that men are becoming more able to communicate their emotions than in years past, expressing fears and anxieties about joblessness and other issues. Since the early days of humankind men have gone out and brought home the bacon, either by hunting, or by bringing home a salary. While modern feminism broke women away from traditional roles, men have been slow to adapt. Their egos are wrapped up in their jobs and providing. Though many feel at home being in the home, others chafe at the idea, feel it isn’t manly or are lost. Many social scientists and psychologists note that this breaking out of traditional gender roles is good in the sense that it brings egalitarianism into a marriage or cohabitating relationship. Still, women and men aren’t treated equal. Women still make less than men. Men and women are now free to define themselves. They are struggling with the gender roles of the past, but they are free to define their own future. For more on this topic read, The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family by Kathleen Gerson.