Marriage & Family Myths Critique Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

According to the authors, this dynamic that many contemporary views consider to be a universal fact of life actually evolved only after the social changes introduced by the Industrial Revolution. In fact, any so-called "modern" shift to a more egalitarian sharing of family responsibilities represents more of a return to the more natural state of families than any "radical" or "new" approach.

Branden (1999) agrees, again tying in excessive adherence to typical male and female roles as a potential source of unnecessary strain, especially where marital partners may be better suited to a different arrangement or sharing of responsibilities. Likewise, Roberts (2007) also acknowledges the damage caused to marriage by dissatisfaction, especially among wives, as to the roles prescribed to them by society.

Myth # 4 - the Unstable African-American Family:

In their criticism of the notion that the African-American community reflects a lower level of marital and family stability than other cultures in the U.S., Schwartz and Scott (2000), seem to contradict themselves as well as to rely on a non-sequitur and the emotional power of the concept of racism. Specifically, while acknowledging that African-Americans, as a group, reflect less family stability than many other groups, the authors suggest that this conclusion ignores the complexities of the underlying causes, in conjunction with the suggestion that the perception amounts to racism. However, the causes are irrelevant to the correctness or incorrectness of the perception and the authors do not deny that, for whatever reasons, African-American communities seem to suffer somewhat more from the phenomenon at issue than other cultures.

Myth # 5 - the Idealized Nuclear Family of the 1950s:

Schwartz and Scott (2000) return to the idea of the nuclear family myth addressed in their first topic, but with particular emphasis on the specific image portrayed throughout American media and social culture about the 1950s era where marriage and family life was depicted as a very uniform arrangement with little room for variety or alternate arrangements. The authors question the notion that the 1950s era represented a happier time in which marital instability, unhappiness, and especially, divorce was much less frequent. In reality, according to the authors, the rise in divorce statistics since the 1950s reflects only the latter portion of a trend that began much earlier. Furthermore, the lower average age at first marriage and higher birth rates of that era were more attributable to other social factors and demographics than suggested by social critics who describe that era as a healthier or happier period.

Branden (1999) agrees that the husband-wife dynamic depicted by the media's portrayal of the 1950s era American family is not necessarily consistent with any conclusions that people were happier or that marriages and families were any happier or more stable. Instead, Branden attributes lower divorce rates more to the greater degree of social stigma associated with failed marriages at that time, as well as to the comparative difficulties facing women in the workplace that all but precluded many unhappy wives from considering leaving their marriages. Roberts (2007) concurs, suggesting that infidelity rates are not so much higher now, but that the social stigmas associated with extramarital affairs are less prohibitive today than during the more "traditional" era.


Branden, N. (1999) the Psychology of Romantic Love. New York: Bantam.

Roberts, S. (2007) the Shelf Life…

Sources Used in Document:


Branden, N. (1999) the Psychology of Romantic Love. New York: Bantam.

Roberts, S. (2007) the Shelf Life of Bliss. The New York Times, July 1, 2007.

Schwartz, M.A., Scott, B.M. (2000) "Debunking Myths about Marriage and Families" in Marriages and Families: Diversity and Change.

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