Relationship between the Institution of Marriage and the Institution of Family

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Marriage is a human behavior that individuals enter into and has been in existence since mankind has been on Earth. Marriage is a “legally recognized monogamous social contract between two people, a man and a woman, that is traditionally based on a sexual relationship to produce children and implying permanence of the union.” Over the years that definition has changed a bit in society’s eyes. Now we have opposite-sex marriage, same-sex marriage, common law marriage, and in some areas polygamy marriage or more than one spouse.

Sociologists are interested in studying the relationship between the institution of marriage and the institution of family. They are interested in this relationship between the two institutions because historically, marriage is what creates family. The dynamic of marriage has changed as well as the people in the marriage. Today some people wait to have children until their careers are established but while they are waiting for that to happen they can still be married. People living together for a duration of time, that consider themselves married, and intend to be married are considered to be in a common law marriage. A myth about common law marriage is if a couple living together have been cohabitating for seven years or more then they are in a common law marriage and have the same rights as a true married couple. This is a myth, they do not have any of those rights unless they end up getting married. Many states do not recognize this type of marriage.

On June 26th, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court dropped all bans on same-sex marriages and legalized it in all fifty states. “Before 1993, seven states had laws that defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman and in 2015 all that changed.” (ncsl.org) Justice Anthony Kennedy stated in 2015 in the case of “Obergefell V. Hodges ” that “marriage is a fundamental right that ALL couples are entitled to under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. ” Now same-sex couples share the same legal rights as heterosexual couples with health insurance, medical leave, adoption, etc

In the earlier years of marriage, the man worked and supported the family and the woman cared for the children in the home. Now many women want careers and want to wait to have children or want to work and have the man stay home and care for the children. The consequences for some are a break down in the family structure as it was once known by not having the mother in the role of caregiver and nurturer. Divorce is another consequence of the family structure breaking down, single parents struggle to raise their children on a one person income or welfare if they can\’t afford to it by themselves.


  1. Loyd Uglow, P. (2017). The History of Marriage. [online] SAGU. Available at: https://www.sagu.edu/thoughthub/the-history-of-marriage [Accessed 15 Feb. 2020].
  2. Ncsl.org. (2020). Same-Sex Marriage Laws. [online] Available at: https://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/same-sex-marriage-laws.aspx [Accessed 15 Feb. 2020].
  3. Social institutions | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy. (2020). [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KR1bad76qg [Accessed 15 Feb. 2020].

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Relationship between the Institution of Marriage and the Institution of Family. (2020, Sep 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/relationship-between-the-institution-of-marriage-and-the-institution-of-family/

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