Marriage: Then and Now
John Scanzoni developed a model of marriage that is considered by many to be the preferred norm for American marriages even today. His model was based on specific roles for each partner divided strictly along sexual lines. This model marriage includes a husband who is the wage earner and thus the sole provider for the family and a wife who stays at home, bears children, and is responsible for the care and nurturing of them. She has charge of the house and is expected to care for it along with the children. She is expected to teach the children such things as responsibility and morality while the husband has only to worry about providing the funds to support the family. The family of Scanzoni’s model is a conjugal type of marriage, in that the couple moves into a separate household from either’s family.
This type of marriage was made possible when America moved out of an agrarian society and into an industrialized one as it did around 1840 (Bernard 9). As married couples sought out a life independent of kinship by moving to centers of community where employment allowed them to make a better life for themselves the good provider emerged as a predominately male role. The opportunity for this to happen was not enough to make it a reality however. Other factors came into play, such as why, other than a small group of singe females, did the wives not take advantage of the abundance of factory work.
The first was immigrants, especially from Western Europe, who were willing laborers that displaced women as the first choice as employees (Epstein/Easton 99). So while the opportunity was there for women it was not a dire necessity that they go to work in the factories. The second event that helped keep women in the home was literature and books urging women to subordinate themselves to their husbands (Epstein/Easton 93). This literature put the home at the center of a woman’s life with child rea...