Marriage, Morals,and Family Life in American History
Marriage,Morals, and Family Life in American History
Inthe eighteenth century, marriages between men and women occurred atearly ages in America than in Europe Most young couples never waitedto have property in order to get married as their counterparts inEurope did during that time (Degler, De Santis & Farmer, 2011).Furthermore, the American society neglected the marriage agreementsthat formed the basis of the family unit in Europe. The attitudetowards divorce differed greatly with most Americans filing fordivorce than the Europeans. There were certain laws that governeddivorce matters with most of them varying from state to stateregarding the reasons for divorce. The marriage life in theeighteenth century matters a lot in the modern American society sincethere are certain laws similar to the ones used during that time thatare still used in resolving divorce issues even today. For example,courts today can dissolve marriages due to cases of adultery,cruelty, and abandonment and some of these issues formed the groundsfor divorce back in the 1700s.
Itis important to consider if divorce was not allowed during that timeand what this would mean for the modern American society. The absenceof divorce would have led to increased cases of domestic violence,sexual assault towards women and male dominance. However, due todemocratic nature of American families such that every person has aright to control the family issues, there have been less cases ofdomestic violence even today. If there were no laws governingdivorce matters, some couples today would be separating without anylegal formalities, an issue that significantly affects children. Itseems that the flexibility of the American marriages in the pastcenturies has made it easier for the modern families to solve issuesby using laws that are already recognized.
The relevance of the early American society today can also bedescribed from a morals perspective where parental control was knownto be less strict in America than in Europe (Degler, De Santis &Farmer, 2011). Little children aged between 10 to 20 years had theprivilege of self-management in New York, but this was different inBritain. If children had not been given this freedom, may be themodern society would be a better place with children giving morerespect to their parents. However, the democracy and equality infamilies that was established in the 1700s has yielded good resultswith women and children having a role to play in family matters.Serious family roles were left to men even if their actionsdisadvantaged women and children. In other words, male dominancewould have prevailed if women were not treated equal with men back inthe 1700s and 1800s.
The attitude towards sexuality in the eighteenth century is anotherissue that defines the modern American society. People were morefrank about sex than the Europeans in the early days, and this setprecedent for the modern behavior of kissing and hugging in public.Prostitution is more prevalent in American cities than in Europebecause the Americans are more open about sex than other civilsocieties around the world even in the past.
Anotherissue that defined the American families back in time is the lack ofunity and patriarchal structure of a family that was evident inEurope. Sons and daughters outdid their parents when they startedworking in the farms and factories (Degler, De Santis & Farmer,2011). The materialistic approach to life made it possible for moreyoung people to live better lives than their parents. The modernmaterialistic society in the US is a true reflection of the oldAmerican life that was defined based on how much wealth one couldacquire and how he/she pursued happiness. It is common today to findchildren, who are wealthier than their parents, an issue that alsodetermines the nature of their marriage lives. For example, manyyoung people today engage in premarital relations before gettingmarried solely because they have been granted a lot of freedom toacquire wealth and pursue happiness. In sum, the marriage and familylife of the early days has a lot of significance in today’sAmerican life since it formed the basis of how divorce matters shouldbe resolved, how children should behave and how couples shouldperform their respective roles in a family set up.
Degler, C. N., De Santis, V. P. & Farmer, B. (2011).Introduction to American history. Redding, CA: BVT Publishing.