In the past 40 years there has been a dramatic change in the amounts of marriage and cohabitation, for example 60% of first time marriages end in divorce, which means the amount of second marriages have increased because everyone always wants someone to hold onto in life and you can never be too old to find that someone.
Firstly, when a male and female are married, there is important factors to consider. Traditionally it was important for the male to be the ‘Breadwinner’ in the family and bring in the income, and for the female to be a housewife and tend to the children’s needs as well as the household, cooking every meal and cleaning the house. It was important for the family to have a function in society.
But now tradition has been pushed aside and now women have careers, Sue Sharpe discovered this change in women’s views on life when she first visited a school in 1976 to see that the girls at the school only had visioned of being a housewife in the future, she then returned to the same school in 1994 to observe that all the girls had dreamed of having careers, this shows that women now having more of a role in society could prove a struggle for men not being the leader anymore.
Also in a marriage men and women moreover look for not just love, but friendship. If friendship is not found or one partner doesn’t open up to their lover, then a marriage can start to crumble. Plus divorce is also frowned upon by functionalists. Furthermore in the past 40 years there has been an increase in cohabitation (living together but not being married). There can be many reasons for this, from economical and not being able to afford a wedding seen as the average church wedding costs ? 15,000 or not being ready.
One of the most popular reasons is that couples want to in a sense ‘try out’ living with somebody before they spend massive amounts of money and vow to spend the rest of their lives with someone who they might not even like, this gives them a chance to back out of proceedings and find their soul mate. Moreover another reason that cohabitation is increasing is because of stability. Cohabitation is very rare cases lasts longer than ten years, therefore first marriages are more stable and cohabitation is generally safer for younger couples as they don’t have to rush into the rest of their lives.
Feminist’s note that women’s expectations of marriage have radically changed, compared with previous generations. In the 1990s, most divorce petitions were put forward by women. This may support Thornes and Collard’s (1979) view that women expect far more from marriage than men and, in particular, that they value friendship and emotional gratification more than then do. If husbands fail to love up to these expectations, women may feel the need to look elsewhere.
This would also support the fact that, on average, the number of divorce proceedings started by women is about 70%. In the past 40 years also, the standard of living has increased greatly, which means people are living longer, this includes; Scientific and medical advances, the welfare state, safer and healthier working conditions, higher accommodation standards, improved education and health awareness, better food and food technology e. g. microwaves and toasters, better hygiene and sanitation and improved medical care.
All these factors are huge reasons why people have started living longer, and with people living longer there is more of a chance of marriage in their long lived lifes and more than just one. . On the other hand there has been a decrease in family size, this is because of; More child-centeredness, increasing geographical mobility, improved and ease of access contraception, declining death and infant mortality rate, the welfare state, the changing role of women, compulsory education of children and the change of norms and values.
These are all elements in which influence the decline in average family size. Lastly, there has been an increase in marriage because of growing secularization, the changes on the views of religion meant that people from different countries have integrated from their foreign countries and settled in Britain, where they have found love, and for them it is more traditional for them to marry before living together. The basic development of cohabitation is that it is on the increase and has been for the last decade.
The proportion of non-married people cohabiting has risen sharply in the last 20 years from 11% of men and 13% of women in 1986 to 24% and 25% respectively. In 2007, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested that cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK. In fact, around 2. 2 million families are cohabiting couples with or without children. This family type has grown by 65% since 1997, and really, the numbers are likely to be higher than this because the ONS data did not include same-sex couples living together.
In addition, the ONS data suggested that a third of teenagers in 2007 were destined to cohabit rather than marry compared with one in ten of their grandparents. As we gathered that the general trend is on the increase, it’s good to know the reasons why. One of the first reasons, which I mentioned earlier on, is that people like to cohabit to “test the water. ” During this period, they will assess whether they (the couple) are compatible with each other and whether they will be able to live with each other before making any sort of commitments.
After all, cohabitation on average lasts for 5 years, which then 60% of cohabitees will then marry. Another reason for the said trend is that there are a significant number of people who live together whilst waiting for a divorce. For example, in 2005, 23% of cohabiting men were separated from a previous partner whilst 36% were divorced. So although a person may be married, they may have separated and moved into another house to live with a person they have met. They will then be counted as a cohabitee.
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