Coontz came into this conclusion after evaluating different forms of marriage over a long period. In particular, Coontz studied “separate spheres”, “companionship” and “long decade” marriages of 19th and 20th Centuries the and 1950s respectively.
In the 1950s, marriages were characterized by existence of a single male earner, whom other members depended on for survival. Considering the rise of capitalism in the post-WWII, many people opted to marry when young in order to gain happiness and sexual fulfillment in the companionship.
Because of market expansion, a large number of women provided labor services in the industries, hence gaining some income. Consequently, they encouraged their daughters to further their education in order to gain more benefits from the industrial development.
Women involvement in higher learning and income generating activities made them to stay single for a long time, something that brought about frustrations. This led to the rise of feminist movements that encouraged independence among women. In addition, economic empowerment encouraged women to abandon loveless marriages by applying the divorce laws. Moreover, new technologies made it easier for men to live in single livelihood.
Toughened economic situation in the 1970s, which saw the reduction of wedges encouraged women to participate in income generation. In addition, the legal reforms In the 1960s and 1970s, which saw the narrowing of the gap between legitimacy and illegitimacy made people to change marital perceptions. Therefore, there are more cases of single parents and cohabiting because young people seek to establish their financial stability before accepting marriage responsibility.
Traditional marriages allowed men to exercise power over women in the institution. It is for this reason that women became excluded