HOW MARRIAGE BECAME OPTIONAL: COHABITATION, GENDER, AND THE EMERGING FUNCTIONAL NORMS

Author: 

J. Herbie DiFonzo

In 1953, sociologist Ray E. Baber confidently asserted that the “opportunity which marriage affords for constant and complete companionship with the person most loved, with the full sanction of society, is its greatest single attraction.” Another mid-20th century text, Paul H. Landis’ “Making the Most of Marriage”, referred to the “long-accepted idea that marriage is the natural state for adults.” Landis noted that marriage “has a more prominent place in both our aspirations and realizations than ever before in American history.” His sociology text equated marriage with the drive to establish family life. Several headings in his chapter on “Needs Fulfilled by Marriage” reflected the era’s rock-solid perception that true love and family life always commence at the altar: “Marriage Meets the Need for Love and Emotional Security”; “Marriage Meets the Need for Status and Appreciation for Personal Worth”; “Marriage Answers the Need for Companionship”; and “Marriage Meets the Physiosexual Need for Response.” View More