Questions to guide your reading and our discussion of
Marriage, a history: How love conquered marriage
1. What role has culture played with respect to love and marriage?
2. How have cultural expectations influenced attitudes about love between marital partners?
3. According to the various cultural ideologies about marriage discussed in this chapter, is love essential in marriage? Why?
4. The author suggests that over the last two hundred years in Western Europe and North America shifting values and changing expectations about marriage has resulted in “consequences that have since come to threaten the stability of the entire institution” (Coontz, 2005, p.23). What issues may have contributed toward this conclusion?
1. The author presents several definitions of marriage throughout the chapter and acknowledges that flaws exist in each of these descriptions. Is it possible to construct a universal definition of marriage?
2. In-laws have traditionally played important roles within families. Coontz (2005) remarks that the increasing separation between marital partners and the extended family has “played a critical role in creating the ‘crisis’ of modern marriage” (p. 33). What function or roles have in-laws contributed toward marriage and family?
1. How was marriage and family structure different between Athens and Rome?
1. What does the phrase "the role of wives as 'peace weavers'" (p. 91) mean?
1. Why does this chapter describe peasant marriages as a practical necessity?
2. Why were so many people involved in the decisions regarding marriage partners?
1. Briefly, what was the difference between how Catholics and Protestants viewed marriage?
2. Explain the circumstances behind the statement, "A harmonious, well-functioning marriage was a business necessity as well as a personal pleasure." (p. 128).