Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage

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Penguin, Feb 28, 2006 - History - 448 pages
3 Reviews
Just when the clamor over "traditional" marriage couldn’t get any louder, along comes this groundbreaking book to ask, "What tradition?" In Marriage, a History, historian and marriage expert Stephanie Coontz takes readers from the marital intrigues of ancient Babylon to the torments of Victorian lovers to demonstrate how recent the idea of marrying for love is—and how absurd it would have seemed to most of our ancestors. It was when marriage moved into the emotional sphere in the nineteenth century, she argues, that it suffered as an institution just as it began to thrive as a personal relationship. This enlightening and hugely entertaining book brings intelligence, perspective, and wit to today’s marital debate.

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Enjoyed reading this fascinating and wonderfully researched book. If you want to delve into the basics of today's breaking marriages, you must refer to history; and this book is so great in that. We have gone so far from the point where women were subservient to men to the concept of romantic love discussed in this book as a substitute for marriage. Hats off to the writer who dissects it so well. 

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This is a wonderful & interesting read from the first chapter to the last. Coontz will completely destroy any preconceived notions about what you think marriage has been and instead give you just the facts. Allowing the reader to really examine their own bias and beliefs. Not only was it interesting from a historical context on marriage and family, but also very validating for those of us who don't always feel like we understand the institution of marriage in the 21st century. Everyone should read this book before they marry.  


The Real Traditional Marriage
Nothing Is More Impure Than to Love Ones Wife as if She Were a Mistress9
It Made Me Really Sick Just as I Have Formerly Been When in Love with My Wife
Happily Ever After
The Importance of InLaws
The Transformation of Marriage in Ancient Societies
The Marriage of Antony and Cleopatra
Marriage Among the Common Folk of Ancient Society
The Dawn of Marriages Golden Age
The Gathering Storm
The Disestablishment of Marriage
Chapter 1 The Radical Idea of Marrying for Love
Chapter 2 The Many Meanings of Marriage
Chapter 3 The Invention of Marriage

The Athenian Experiment
Politics and Marriage in the Roman State
The Emergence of Christianity
Charlemagnes Matrimonial and Religious Alliances
The Marriage Scandal of the Millennium
The Peculiar History of Incest Laws
The Importance of a Highborn Wife
Marriage Love and Individual Choice
Portraits of Medieval Marriage
The Protestant Reformation
Are We There Yet?
The Revolutionary Implications of the Love Match
Inventing the Male Breadwinner Marriage
The EighteenthCentury Sexual Crisis
Challenges to Victorian Marriage
You Are Now the Husband of a Career Woman
Chapter 4 Soap Operas of the Ancient World
Chapter 5 Something Borrowed
Chapter 6 Playing the Bishop Capturing the Queen
Chapter 7 How the Other 95 Percent Wed
Chapter 8 Something Old Something New
Chapter 9 From Yoke Mates to Soul Mates
Chapter 10 Two Birds Within One Nest
Chapter 11 A Heaving Volcano
Chapter 12 The Time When Mountains Move Has Come
Chapter 13 Making Do Then Making Babies
Chapter 14 The Era of Ozzie and Harriet
Chapter 15 Winds of Change
Chapter 16 The Perfect Storm
Chapter 17 Uncharted Territory
Better or Worse?

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About the author (2006)

Stephanie Coontz is the Director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families and teaches history and family studies at The Evergeen State College in Olympia, Washington. She divides her time between Makaha, Hawaii, and Washington. The author of the award-winning The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, she writes about marriage and family issues in many national journals including The Washington Post, Harper’s, Chicago Tribune, and Vogue. Her work has been translated into Japanese, German, French, and Spanish.

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