Marriage in contemporary America has a very different meaning compared to that in earlier days. The setting is very different now with different types of families emerging. These include same-sex unions, co-habiting, adoption, and the common mother-father relationships.
These settings have resulted in dynamic changes in roles of each member of the family and increased divorce cases. Unlike traditional marriages in which family members worked together for provision and the well-being of the entire family, roles played by individuals have changed. The father is no longer the sole-bread winner. A modern time mother is also not a ‘stay-home’ mother who takes care of the family day-in day-out. Women have taken up the role of providing for their families together with their husbands. This leaves children, old and ailing members of the family either with no care or under the watch of a caretaker (Hawke, 2007, p.1). Other forms of relationships have their positive and negative effects on family members.
Co-habiting, especially between parents with children from different marriages give the children a chance to be brought up by both father and mother figures. In step parenting, the children also get a chance to grow up with both father and mother figures (Stewart, 1999, p.345). However, these children might end up withdrawing from their stepparent, a scenario, which in many times lead to conflicts between the two parties. The positive side is that the teenage children tend to like their stepparents than the blood parent because they are more lenient and willing to bend some laws in their favor that the blood parent would not. In families where adoption is involved, parents tend to provide undivided attention to their adopted children.
This does not occur in most cases of step parenting where the children may be viewed as a burden rather than a blessing. In same-sex unions, the psychological, financial, and physical well-being of partners is enhanced. Children are raised by parents within legally recognized unions that are of big benefit to them. However, anti-homosexuality activists argue that these children are psychologically affected in a negative way by the absence of heterosexual parents. This century has seen a great rise in the number of divorce cases in the American society. There is one divorce in every three marriages every year and this number might increase in future.
It leaves over a million children suffering every year. Divorce has many negative impacts to the children affected. These children become victims of abuse especially drug abuse and increased cases of suicide (Patrick & Robert, 2000, p.2).
Most children blame themselves for their parents’ separation subjecting them to psychological torture. Divorce has increased the number of single parents in the country. Many women get the custody of the children in many divorce cases leaving them with the burden of family upbringing alone. As a result, many problems arise in families because many women have developed psychological problems that curtail them from bringing up their children in a healthy way. Divorce is eroding the fundamental unit of American society and it should not be viewed as a solution of the differences occurring between spouses. Instead, spouses should look for other means to solve their differences; for instance, marriage counseling which has been proven to save thirty percent of marriages annually. The future of marriage as the fundamental unit of American society does not look promising.
The increased cost of life will make parents move away further from their children and spouses in search of money that will never be enough. Socially, there might emerge many other forms of marriages that do not provide a healthy environment for people involved especially the children. People may result to marriages without children which results in selfishness in the society (Gomes, 2004, p.
6). This will have many psychological problems in every member of the society because healthy marriages result in healthy society and vice versa. In conclusion, the contemporary marriage in American society is a source of many societal problems. A lot has changed resulting in many cases of divorce, single parenting, and psychological problems especially to the children. All members of the society should come together to look for a lasting solution in future.
Gomes, D. (2004). Contemporary family therapy in the United States. Journal of Family Therapy, 16 (1), 6-8. Hawke, A.
(2007). Gender roles within American marriage: Are they really changing? California: University of DuPage press. Patrick, F., & Robert, R.
(2000). The effect of divorce on America. The Heritage Foundation, 13(2), 2-16. Stewart, S. (1999). Contemporary American step parenthood: Integrating cohabiting And nonresident stepparents.
Population Research and Policy Review, 20 (4), 345-59.