Park University The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage Discussion





After reading the articles assigned for the week in your Ferguson text, fully answer the questions asked on each article. Each unit, you are required to post to ALL discussion prompts but only one peer post per unit is required.  You must post first before you will see other classmate’s postings.

Topic 1: “The deinstitutionalization of American marriage”

The author speaks of the deinstitutionalization of marriage which means the weakening of social norms on the way people feel about it. He also argues that marriage has declined due to it no longer being considered as a universal setting for childbearing, gay and lesbian relationships and the high number of people of cohabitating. Since marriage in deinstitutionalizing, cohabitation is institutionalizing. Furthermore, marriage is now a choice, not a necessity.  Since single parenting and cohabitation are so acceptable in our society now, why do people still want to get married?  Which direction do you see marriage heading in the future (more marriage, less marriage, a continuation of the deinstitutionalization of marriage)?

Topic 2: “Marriage: the good, the bad and the greedy”

What are the pros and cons of marriage?  What do you buy into more? Explain. How does marriage weaken ties to the community and to kin? Explain why marriage is greedy.  Do agree or disagree with this and why? Explain what marriage promotion does.

Topic 3: “Families formed outside of marriage”

What are the pros and cons of cohabitating? Should police allow for more domestic partnership benefits? If so, why marry?  What are your thoughts on cohabitation?  Would you ever? Have you and if so, what have been your experiences on it?

Topic 4: “Women without children: A contradiction in terms?”

Discuss some of the reasons why some people do not want children. What might influence your decision to have them or if you have kids, what influenced your decision?

Topic 5:  Apply any of the readings this week to your own life.


Michelle Adams

Manage Discussion Entry

1. I think people still want to get married because it is the ultimate expression of love. The author mentions something called enforceable trust when she says that “marriage still requires a public commitment to a long-term, possibly lifelong relationship” (Ferguson, p. 154). She goes on to say that “this commitment is usually expressed in front of relatives, friends, and religious congregants” (Ferguson, p. 155). With cohabitation, the author says that this “requires only a private commitment” (Ferguson, p. 155). With public commitments, it says to the other person that you are all in for the relationship for the long term. It also forms a trust about investing in the relationship. Another thing the author mentions is that marriage can be a way to mark prestige in your status by buying a house together, saving money, and having kids together.

I see marriage still being a choice in the near future, but in the long term, I think it might eventually focus on being an egalitarian relationship and may become deinstitutionalized, especially with the number of divorces that exist. But I think this would be a very long way into the future, especially with it being a controversial issue because of religious beliefs.

2. Some of the benefits of marriage can be having someone to share your life with, having extra support, having someone to help with child-rearing, having an emotional bond and intimacy with someone with fewer risks involved. It can also mean having different legal benefits. The author mentions that some of the benefits of marriage are that it “protects against everything from cavities to murder and suicide” (Ferguson, p. 161). The author also says that “marriage keeps adult men out of crime and their kids out of delinquency” (Ferguson, p. 161). Marriage also has many emotional and mental as well as physical benefits. For cons of marriage, at least for a bad one it can as the author says “increase suicide, stress, cancer and blood pressure” (Ferguson, p. 161). In bad marriages, there might also be abuse that happens and be very costly to divorce. Another negative drawback that the author mentioned was that married couples call and spend less time with their families and friends (Ferguson, 2019).

For myself I tend to buy into the marriage aspect more, there are definitely more benefits for me personally because I have support, a companion to share my life experiences with, a great father to my children and many great memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It has also been very beneficial for me legally to be married with having health benefits and coverage, having a combined income, tax breaks, etc.

Marriage can weaken ties to the community and to kin because you are now more invested in your own immediate family rather than to your external family. For me, I have still been very close with both my immediate and external family members, but I have to admit that I have been absent a lot because I am a military spouse. The author makes an interesting statement when they say that “the strength of the collectivity depends on a weakened marital and family life” (Ferguson, p. 165). This probably does ring true for more collective cultures. Marriage in this way can be greedy with more emphasis being placed on the family you make with your partner rather than on the family you grew up with. When marrying someone you tend to branch out and create your own families that you invest in. I do agree that it can look greedy to the persons on the outside or for those that do not agree with marriage, but to the people married it is not seen this way but as an investment in their own families’ future. Marriage promotion promotes healthy marriages, but at the same time also promotes unhealthy marriages in the process because both exist. It also decreases community engagement because people are more focused on their families.

3. Some pros of cohabitating are that when cohabitating it induces a more egalitarian union and the author also says that “cohabitating couples have greater flexibility in the degree to which they follow the gender-based division of labor and family responsibilities” (Ferguson, p. 203). Some cons of cohabitation are that it can lead to higher divorce rates which are confirmed with the author by saying that both women and men may be less committed to their relationships when they cohabit than when they marry” (Ferguson, p. 203). Parental relationships are also strained when cohabitating (Ferguson, 2019). Some pros of marriage are that there are fewer divorce rates and formalized rights and responsibilities with the union that is legally recognized. It also fosters better parental relationships. Some disadvantages are that housework and responsibilities aren’t as equally distributed and it is more costly to get out of the relationship.

I think that there should be more benefits for domestic partnerships if over a certain amount of years. There are lots of LGBTQ relationships that deserve to have the same benefits that married persons do and can’t because marriage for gays isn’t legalized in all states, and also for couples that have been cohabitating for many years and can’t claim any benefits. Marriage is just not for the benefits, so the marriage can still happen even if there aren’t any different benefits than not being married. It acts as a symbol of love and commitment and is also a religious belief for many people as well. I don’t see any harm in cohabitating or marriage and think that it should be the individual’s choice. I have done both and the person I cohabitated with ended up marrying after five years and we have been married ever since.

4. Some reasons women may not want children is that it would impact their lifestyle too much, it costs a lot of money to have children, they might not have had the best childhood and don’t feel like they are prepared for having children, they might want to wait until they are older to establish themselves and their careers and they might also want to pursue an education. Women might also not feel like the world nowadays is a good place to bring up kids, or maybe they feel like they would pass down some bad genetics. They could also be concerned about overpopulating the earth or feel that it would cause too much stress on them.

My first child was unplanned but I ultimately chose to have her because I felt that at some point in my life, I would eventually want to have a child. It just happened sooner than expected but was a great blessing regardless of her being unplanned. My second child was planned and the reasons that influenced my decision were that I enjoyed being a mother, I wanted to have a playmate for my first child and I also wanted multiple children to build my family and to create memories with. Another thing that influenced me is that I didn’t want my children too far apart in age, and I wanted to have them sooner than later so I can raise them together and then concentrate on my educational and career goals once they were older.

5. In my experience with cohabitation, I decided to live with my partner to make sure we were ready for marriage. Once I married someone, I didn’t want a divorce to be an option, I only wanted to get married once. Cohabitating for us went smoothly and showed us that ultimately, we wanted to be committed to each other for the long haul. We ended up marrying after 5 years of cohabitating and have now been married for over 19 years. I think this should be a personal choice and one that should be based on what is best for each individual person or relationship. I have had positive experiences with both.


Ferguson, S. J. (2019). Shifting the center: understanding contemporary families. Sage.

Edited by Michelle Adams on Mar 30 at 12:41amReply


Explanation & Answer length: 1 Page

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