During the 1960s, rising real wages for low-income and high-income workers, due in part to rapid economic growth and the spread of unionization, worked in tandem with expanding government support systems to improve Americans' well-being.
Feminism insists on women's right to make choices - about whether to marry, whether to have children, whether to combine work and family or to focus on one over the other. It also urges men and women to share the joys and burdens of family life and calls on society to place a higher priority on supporting caregiving work.
Unilateral divorce has decreased the bargaining power of the person who wants the marriage to last and has not engaged in behavior that meets the legal definition of fault. On the other hand, it has increased the bargaining power of the person who is willing to leave.
In my work as a historian and in my relationships as a friend, teacher, wife, and mother, I have come to think that the most useful way to understand the past and make it work for you is to look at the trade-offs and contradictions that, however deeply buried, can be uncovered in every memory, good or bad.
Many alternatives to traditional marriage have emerged. People feel free to shop around, experimenting with several living arrangements in succession. And when people do marry, they have different expectations and goals.
As time passes, the actual complexity of our history - even of our own personal experience - gets buried under the weight of the ideal image.