Within the last few decades, much controversy has surrounded the institution of marriage. Prior to the 1900’s, arranged marriages were more prevalent in the United States. Marriage was a way to gain material wealth. Endearing thoughts toward the betrothed were not considered important. Today, marriage is viewed as a personal choice. Those who seek to wed now expect happiness. The majority of Americans in today’s culture idealize freedom, romance, equal opportunities, and individuality between men and women. Divorce is extremely common now due to a lack of communication regarding ideals. This miscommunication happens when one spouse believes his or her individual values are more important than their spouse’s values. Values of individuality that are improperly balanced cause marriage relationships to falter. Peter D. Kramer states in “Divorce and Our National Value,” that American values of individuality do not coincide with marriage and is the reason for increased divorce. Kramer explains that, “American culture, although it glorifies marriage as the centerpiece for social stability, promotes individualistic freedoms of self-fulfillment the most” (486). He states that divorce shows the overriding respect for the unique and separate self. Kramer also believes that in the 21st century the search for personal identity is valued higher than mutual compromise within marriage (488). Marriage is undervalued and misunderstood in culture today due to individualistic beliefs that are given more importance than teamwork and mutuality.
Values placed on an individual’s sense of self, play a big part in whether a marriage will survive. A person’s sense of identity and self-worth should not be defined by being someone’s partner. If a person does not feel complete and self-confident before entering a relationship, they will not be completely satisfied from their spouse either. Other people cannot make a person happy; it is a choice to create contentment by the individual. Humans, both female and male, share a gamut of the same emotions, skills, and strengths. For example, some women doubt their femininity if they possess a higher than normal sex drive for females, while men can feel emasculated if they show signs of tenderness and compassion. Personalities have been stereotypically and incorrectly labelled, pigeon-holed into masculine or feminine traits. Another value of the human heart that is often distorted is the over significance placed on erotic attraction. Many times romantic ideals, sensual emotions that are perceived as love, are the first fruits of brand new relationships. When daily living tames down the flames of attraction and excitement, and the newness becomes boring, couples must choose to show love through service and sacrifice, which is difficult if an individual is only concerned with his or her own needs. Dr. John Gottman, a marriage expert and author shared in the short film “After Happily Ever After”, shared statistical research stating, “Perpetual problems exist in marriage. Sixty-nice percent of the problems are recurring problems that cannot be solved, while thirty-one percent of marriage problems can be solved.” The misery chosen in a marriage should be misery that can be tolerated (“After Happily After”). Fantastical views of true love and soul mates does not leave much room for human error and can cause disappointment in someone’s spouse due to unrealistic expectations. In addition to individualism, the miscommunication and disagreement of roles within a household can negatively impact marriages. Complexities within marriage have increased significantly due to the increased acceptance of equal choices for each spouse. Today, couples define their personal relationship between one another by the roles they choose to perform in everyday life. Traditional roles in marriage have changed since women’s liberation, but even now married couples benefit from having...
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Kramer, Peter D. “Divorce and Our National Values.” Reading Literature and Writing Argument. Custom Edition for Oklahoma City Community College. Eds. Missy James and Alan P. Merickel. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2008. 486-488. Print.
Roiphe, Anne. Married: A Fine Predicament. New York: Basic Books, 2002. Print.
Schlessinger, Laura. The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007.
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"Women and Men Unglued: Marriage and Relationships in the 21st Century." Films On Demand. Films Media Group, 2003. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. .
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