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Paper Topic:

Marriage, a History

Marriage , a History

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Marriage , a History

Coontz (2005 ) focused on historical changes in marriages from prehistoric to present times , mainly in terms of how institutional and social needs affected restrictions on the liberties of wives . Although she described historical periods as characterizing marital patterns , she carefully noted that both

within and between periods , history has been cyclical . For example , birth and divorce rates have fluctuated based on the changing needs of economies during different times , and conceptions of women as either sexually pure ' or wanton ' have varied over the ages . She takes issue with three myths ' she believes people hold that the history of women contributing to the support of their families has a fairly short history , and that both love as a reason for marrying and couples aspiring to the marital form of husband as sole breadwinner ' have long histories

Contrary to what Coontz believes many people think , from the beginning of human evolution , through the days of ancient Greece , until the 1950s the majority of women were a part of what we now call the work force In prehistoric history , she , of course , noted that men were hunters and women were gatherers ' since gathering could be done while caring for the young . However , it was gathering , not hunting , that provided most of the food needed for survival , and hunters and gatherers shared within groups or bands (p . 38 , rather than as couples . Marriages between sons and daughters from different bands served to maintain friendly between-band relationships

The author dated the time that marriage became an institution where wives lacked power in ancient agricultural societies (p . 46 although widows ' would be a more accurate term than wives Coontz was referring to the choices a woman had after the death of her husband , e .g , killing herself or marrying a relative of her dead husband . These practices were a result of the development of economic inequalities , where wealthier families became more interested in whom their kin married (p . 46 . Both economic theories and the fact that it is women who are able to reproduce make this interpretation convincing . In addition , although not noted by Coontz , the fact that on average men are physically larger and stronger might explain why women were not able to resist in becoming dominated

Probably because women were the ones who gave birth , there has been a tradition of holding them accountable for failing to provide male heirs ' for their husbands . Coontz recounted the well-known fate of Anne Boleyn in the sixteenth century (p . 133 , who refused to become the mistress of Henry VIII , when his current wife Catherine failed to produce a son . Her refusal led Henry to break ties with the pope who refused to grant him a divorce , so he could marry Anne...

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