Reading Marriage, A History

I Started Stephanie Coontz’s book Marriage, a History, over 6 months ago and I’m still only half-way through it, NOT because it hasn’t proved to be an interesting read, but because time has been so limited lately.  In fact, pretty much every time I pick it up for a few minutes read (usually over breakfast or lunch) I hit upon some gem that I need to turn in to a Goodreads status update, or even a whole blog post.

Here’s an excerpt from the cover flap:

“Marriage today is held up as a blissful haven of love and friendship, sex and stability.  We long for the gold standard, the traditional marriage, but marriage turns out to have a checkered past….  Marriage has changed more in the last thirty years than in the previous five thousand, and few of the old ‘rules’ for marriage still apply.  In the courts, in the op-ed pages, and at the dinner table, battles rage over what marriage means, why people do it, and who can do it.”

Here’s a few of the posts the book has prompted me to write:  Owning the Womb (from the first 30 pgs),  Love and Marriage (from chp 10) and Spunky Little Sex Worker (from chp 11).

And here’s my goodreads status updates.

Eventually I’ll finish the book, but meanwhile, have any of you read this book? What did you think? And do you have any other suggestions for good books/resources on the history of marriage?

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5 Responses

  1. JAST says:

    I finished reading this book a few months ago and LOVED it. I loved reading about how marriage has changed and it was interesting how every time it changes there is a bit of a crisis and people worry about the future of marriage…round and round we go.

  2. Caroline says:

    I’ve read the first few chapters and found it very, very interesting. Then life interfered and I got sidetracked. But I loved the information about how different marriage has been throughout the centuries. Makes me wonder what defenders of ‘traditional marriage’ are talking about. The kinds of marriages they’re referring to haven’t even been around all that long.

  3. Jessawhy says:

    It sounds a little like a book I got from a friend, “The way we never were” about how the American family has always had some good and some bad, there was never a period of perfect marriage.

    Let’s make this a book group discussion at the Exponent!

  4. Derek says:

    I read the book. I could hardly put it down. It was a brilliant examination of marriage and the way marriage has changed. I found it interesting to see her discussion of the backlash against proto-feminism in the mid-Nineteenth century–that traditionalist backlash and the concept of marriage it formed seems, imo, to have made a *very* strong impression on the still forming LDS perception on marriage and gender roles, and still influences LDS policy.

    Jessawhy, _The Way We Never Were_ is also written by Coontz. Was that book good? It’s on my reading list (as is _The Way We Really Are_).

  5. AdamF says:

    This book has been sitting on top the little bookshelf in my bedroom for months now. So many books to read. I’ve enjoyed your updates though!

    Frankly, for those of us who are in marriages or some other similar form of arrangement/relationship, we have plenty to focus on and work on ourselves. I guess I’ve never really felt connected to the “traditional marriage” of “history” and felt a need to defend it. I need to defend my own marriage enough as it is. 🙂

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