marriage, emotion, modern marriage, personal development


American sociologist Andrew Cherlin argues that the institutional boundaries of marriage have shrunk; marriage no longer effectively governs intimate associations before marriage, or structures "proper" pathways to the desired goal of healthy, stable marriage. Personal development and individual emotions are at the core of modern marriage, rather than societal expectations and religious and civil norms. Accordingly, marriages are held together now by internal, psychological forces rather than external, societal forces, and these bonds are substantially weaker. As a result, divorce is common, with about half ending within twenty years; second marriages have even higher rates of disruption. While the divorce rate has decreased since the 1980s, much of this is due to the fact that a great deal of family dissolution these days occurs outside the legal arrangement of marriage. Additionally, divorce rates among the less educated in society have actually been increasing.

Original Publication Citation

Hawkins, A. J. (2012). A proposal for a feasible, first-step, legislative agenda for divorce reform. BYU Journal of Public Law, 26, 215-228.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


BYU Journal of Public Law




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor