“Marriage was a lot more stable when women had to give in to everything their husbands wanted. But it was also less satisfying, not just for women but for many men who never quite understood why their wives were so unhappy or withdrawn.
Over the past century, a good marriage has steadily become fairer, more fulfilling, and better at fostering the well-being of adults and children than ever before in history. At the same time, an unsatisfactory marriage has become less bearable and more brittle. These two seemingly contradictory changes stem from the same source – the breakdown of husbands’ legal domination over wives and of women’s economic dependence on men.
Today, marriage takes more time, more love, more work, and more daily negotiation – from both partners, not just the wife – than it did in the past. There is no magic formula, weekend encounter, or set of “rules” that can bypass the hard work it takes to make a marriage succeed. The bad news is that if negotiations break down, there are few constraints forcing unhappy partners to stay together. Yet, if they could speak, a lot of couples who lived in the “old days” would tell you that this is also the good news.”