• Luna Ross

Why Aren't Marriages Lasting Like Our Grandparents?

I see this question online a lot. People ask why marriages are so quick to end and what happened to the love. But was it all love that made these marriages last? Let’s just get down to it. Sociology! What is sociology you might ask? Sociology is “the study of development, structure, and functioning of human society. The study of social problems” (reference: Dictionary.com).

Back in the day, women were considered their family’s property. They were expected to stay home until they married; many cultures still believe in this now. Many parents would offer a dowry (property or money) to marry their daughters off. This would go to their husbands. Women were expected to take care of the home, cook and clean and bare children to raise while the men went out and worked. Women back then had few rights. Worst if you were black. If they did work, they were paid much less and usually in assistant roles or roles that were women-centric (sewing, crafting, etc.) Women weren’t allowed to vote until 1920, and most of them voted for whom their husbands wanted them to.

In pops the women’s rights movement. I hear many black people say this was the downfall of the black family. With the women’s rights movement, women fought for equality. Women were ready to shatter the glass ceiling and tell their husbands/partners that they would not take it anymore because they have choices. Which is exactly what they did! Nowadays, many women are working outside the home in management, science, medical, business owners, etc. And many women make enough money to take care of themselves if need be.


What people like to romanticize is the number of years people back then were married for. Yes, I think we can all agree that marriage takes work and it can work if people are on the same page and believe in marriage. However, what people love to gloss over is, many of these marriages were filled with abuse; emotionally and physically, cheating, and convenience. Many of the men in these marriages had second families; some women knew about and some didn’t. When I was older, I found out that my grandfather had two (four in total) other daughters in the Bahamas (where he’s from) whom I’ve never met to this day.

I would venture to guess that many of these women would have loved to leave these marriages but, they didn’t have the means and options like women do now. Not to mention the stigma they’d have to face of being a divorcee.

It’s so easy to say that these marriages lasted because they loved each other or knew what family meant because of the longevity but, that’s not the full story. It’s all about having those options. I believe people need to be careful of what they romanticize because you never know what the full story is.