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Marriage and The Family

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Marriage and the family
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ABSTRACT
A marriage and a family are two vital concepts in sociology and also essential components of the society. Through marriage, a family is formed while the summation of the different families in a geographical area makes a society and thus families are the building blocks of society. This paper looks into the marriage and family concepts in the modern society, the different ways they come to be and their various variations through which they present themselves in the modern society. This paper has discussed some changes that have occurred in this two institutions during the past decade or so and how this changes impact the community. Some of the adverse factors that affect marriages and families such as divorce remarrying and abuse are also discussed. The use of statistical figures along with a citation of other relevant studies has been incorporated so as provide relevant and reliable knowledge to the reader.
Key words: marriage and family
Marriage and the family
INTRODUCTION
A family may be defined as a group of people or individuals who are related to each other by marriage, blood or adoption and who in turn may form an economic unit and emotional connections with each other. A marriage, on the other hand, may be described as a legally acknowledged agreement between two or more persons who also share a sexual relationship and have an expectation of making their relationship permanent.

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When looking into marriages and families one should, however, be aware that this two concept can’t be adequately covered by rigid definitions such as those offered above. This is because there are different variations through which marriages and families come to be. A good example could be given through the following illustration.
Alex and Mercy are both college students who have been dating for the past five years. Alex was brought up by a single parent, his mom, all his life. Mercy, on the other hand, was raised by two parents, both her mom and dad but only until she was eleven when they divorced. However, she maintained a good relationship with her father despite the fact that he had re-married. Mercy grew up with her mother and her boyfriend until the day she left for college. Mercy’s mother, despite living with her current boyfriend for eight years, didn’t re-marry. Alex and Mercy have discussed marriage before. Mercy wants to have a formal wedding and raise their kids in a traditional family. Alex, on the other hand, has doubts about an official wedding in case things don’t work out between them. In response to their situation, Alex and Mercy have decided to live together without getting married legally. The above illustration shows different variations of families that may come into existence from different situations.
Sociologists harbor a great interest in the relationship between the marriage institution and the family system since back in history; marriages are what led to the development of families (Peterson, 2013). In the society, a family is the basic building block of the community.
MARRIAGE PATTERNS
Cohabitation refers to when a couple lives together without getting married. Single parenting, on the other hand, is a term descriptive of a family that relies on only one parent for livelihood. These two forms of family patterns have recently been more acceptable in the society and hence the have reduced the population’s motivation of getting married.
Different parts of the world equate marriage to different arrangements. North Americans, for instance, define marriage monogamy. Monogamy is a situation where a person can only be married to one person at a particular time. However, all over the many world cultures that still practices polygamy as an acceptable and normal form of marriage. Polygamy refers to a situation where one is married to more than one person at a time. Some of the regions that still practice polygamy include North African countries, East African countries, and East Asia.
Some parts of Asia also practice polyandry. Polyandry refers to a situation where one woman gets married to more than one man. This type of marriage is a rare occurrence and has been witnessed very few cultures of the world; less than 1% of the cultures in the world (Peterson, 2013). In Canada however, polygamy is seen in a negative light and is even considered illegal. When a person decides to enter into marriage with someone while still married to another, it is a criminal act known as bigamy. Bigamy prohibited by Canada’s constitution (Peterson, 2013).
SAME-SEX COUPLES
Legalization of same-sex marriages in different parts of the world has seen a notable growth of same-sex couples in the past ten years. A good example is that of Canada where 0.8% of all couples are same-sex couples that are also distributed evenly especially in big cities. On the other hand, the United States has an uneven distribution of same-sex couples with District of Columbia having the highest rates while Wyoming recorded the lowest rates. The average age of same-sex couples is usually lower than that of opposite-sex couples. Research has also shown that there more male-male couples who recorded 54.4% than female-female couples. Also, there are 9.4% of same-sex couples, 80% of these being female-female couples who are raising kids (Statistics Canada 2012). Finally, despite the concern voiced in the society of the welfare of the children raised by same-sex marriages, there has been no proof that opposite-sex parenting was better than same-sex marriage. On the contrary, children of lesbian couples exhibit slightly fewer incidences of behavioral problems in addition to a demonstration of higher levels of self-esteem.
FUNCTIONALISM OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILIES: GENDER ROLES
The family plays an instrumental role in the society. This notion of the roles of the family in the society contributes in a major way in the stabilization of the society. The members of the family perform functions that lead to the development and prosperity of the society.
Studies conducted by George Murdock in two hundred and fifty communities concluded that there are four primary roles of the family namely; economic, educational, reproductive and sexual roles (William Little, 2015). Despite the variations of family structures in every society, the family undertakes the mentioned tasks. The family regulates sexual activities in the society. Pre-marital and extra-marital sexual activities have their impact on the society. Through the legitimate sexual outlets provided by the society, reproduction takes place, and thus the culture survives.
Training of the children in the community is also done by the family. Children are taught of ways behave and think that fall in line with the society’s culture, attitudes, values, and beliefs. Through parents, children learn proper ethics that in turn mirrors the good morals of the parents.
Gender roles are also taught by the parents. These positions are of great significance since they constitute the family’s economic function. During the gender role’s training, men are taught how to perform instrumental family functions that include jobs that earn the family’s finances. Women, on the other hand, are taught domestic roles that include chores inside the household along with caring and supporting the children. As per the functionalists, this differentiation of tasks based on the gender plays a significant role in the coordination and balance of the family and the society as a whole. When members of the family neglect their respective roles, the family loses balance and re-organization must take place so as to regain back the stability of the family. A good example is when the man of the house isn’t able to support the family financially; the woman may decide to take the role of providing for the family but on the other hand, the man should help the woman with the domestic duties if a balance is to be regained(Peterson, 2013).
DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
Divorce, even though in the modern world is considered acceptable was once a disapproved phenomenon. Before, divorce used to be a tedious process where participating spouses had to prove sure reasons such as cruelty or adultery in the court. In a country like Canada, the divorce act was broadened, and the grounds included going to prison, three or more years of separation, desertion, mental and physical cruelty. The divorce law was later amended to make divorce grounds to be a single reason, marriage breakdown.
It is such changes that made divorce easily pursuable that led to the dramatic increase in the rates of divorce. However, with time divorce rates reduced but not to the initial levels they were before the amendments. This decrease in divorce rates is attributed to two primary factors: an increase in the degree of education of those who are currently marrying and an increase in the marrying age thus the participants are more mature. These two factors enhance stability in marriages.
One of the common reasons that lead to divorce is the financial stress faced in a marriage. A difference in opinions between the couple on how to handle the family’s finances may break the marriage. In addition to this, children and the responsibilities they bring along may add to the stress in the relationship. Studies have shown that couples that have triplets or twins increase their probability of divorcing by 17% as compared to one baby births. Other than the mentioned reasons, the general decrease in satisfaction in marriage over time also increases the probabilities of divorce (Rutgers University Libraries, 2015). It’s common for peoples to acquire different life goals and values as they age and thus slowly drifting away from each other.
Children whose parents divorced face a 40% probability of experiencing divorce themselves. These likelihood increases if the divorced parents re-married thus divorce may be described as a cyclical pattern (Rutgers University Libraries, 2015).
Re-marrying is a different experience from the first time marriage. This is because it lacks many of the first marriage rituals such as discussions about desired family size, parental approval, and premarital intimacy. The reason remarrying couples tend to enjoy a quality relationship could be attributed to the purpose of the marriage that is usually intimacy based along with the fact that the couple is older in age and more mature.
CHILDREN OF DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
The children and also the partners experience stress during a divorce or remarriage. Some people may justify divorce by saying that the children will have a better life living with divorced parents compared to a home where parents are fighting. On the other hand, some may debate that divorced parents sacrifice the welfare of the kids in their selfishness to seek happiness. None of these two views is entirely true or false since there are many other variable that affect the situation. Although it is clear that conflicts in marriages don’t provide a suitable environment for the children, divorce, on the other hand, may frighten or even further confuse the children. The children may feel that their family security is being threatened and thus in their efforts to bring their parents back together sacrifice their wellbeing. Divorce may be beneficial to children living in the high-conflict home but has an adverse impact to those in low-conflict homes (William Little, 2015).
Children in different age brackets are hurt by divorce differently. Studies have shown that divorce is hardest to kids who are in the school-going age since they are old enough to comprehend the separation but not mature enough to understand the reason behind it. A Late teenager may know the reason for the conflict but may still the pressure, fear, loneliness, and guilt to take a side in the event of the divorce. The heaviest impact of the process may fall on pre-school aged kids because of breaking of the routine that they were used to in the marriage.
VIOLENCE AND ABUSE
Violence or abuse in a marriage or family could happen between a parent and a child, a spouse and the other spouse or between other members of the family. Since most of the cases of abuse go unreported, it is, therefore, difficult to establish the frequency of the occurrences in the society. Domestic abuse and violence are a common problem in many parts of the world. Despite the family variation it may occur, domestic violence has a significant impact on the victims and the society as a whole. It is mostly women who are victims of this kind of violence there are also men who are affected. This violence and abuse may include; intimidation, threats, torture, forced sexual acts among many others.
The long-term effects of domestic violence and ill-treatment on its victims are beyond physical or emotional wounds. Cases have been reported where violence and abuse victims, not cable of finding and holding employment opportunities in addition to experiencing depression, a high likelihood of abusing drugs, eating disorders and suicide attempts. Witnesses to domestic violence and ill-treatment have confessed that they felt the urge to help the victim but restrained themselves as they thought of it as a personal matter. It is because of such reasons than even the victims themselves don’t report the cases.
References
Peterson, G. W., & Bush, K. R. (2013). Handbook of marriage and the family. New York: Springer.
Rutgers university libraries.(2015). Sociology: marriage and the family. Retrieved at. http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~natalieb/marriage.htm
William Little, chapter 14.(2015). Marriage and family. Retrieved from. http://opentextbc.ca/introductiontosociology/chapter/chapter14-marriage-and-family/

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