Historically, the father was the breadwinner and the primary responsibility of the mother or wife was ensuring that the domestic chores, as well as the domestic welfare of the husband and children were taken care of. With the introduction of new legislations and modern trends the position of that idea of family has been threatened, replacing it with different types of family structures. The gender role was intertwined with the different responsibility of the adult members. The father was seen as the aggressive member, expecting to hold certain jobs, while the woman was thought to be more submissive and docile.
With numerous discoveries in science and technology and the improvement in modern medicine, the occurrence of extended families has become prevalent in many societies. Some writers contend that extended families are more common in agricultural societies than in urban situations (Sussman, Steinmetz and Peterson 99).
There were some legal reforms in the 1960’s that led to greater diversity in family structures. In the United States for example, divorce was based on fault for a greater part of the twentieth century. In 1969, the state of California enacted The California Family Law Act which made it possible for couples to divorce based on irreconcilable differences. This eventually became possible in other states as well. The 1969 Divorce Reform Act of England also allowed for couples to divorce on a no fault basis. Although divorce is handled by religious institutions in many societies the legislative reforms in industrialized countries make it very easy for men and women to end their marriages.
Compared to the beginning of the twentieth century divorce has become very popular. Currently, about fifty percent of all first marriages in the United States end in divorce (Erera 136). The sharp rise in divorce rates coincided with the legal reforms in the 1960s. This led to a transformation of marriages as well as families. These