While the situation is not as bad as often reported in the media, there are still concerns surrounding modern relationships and the evolving structure of family units. In particular, these concerns focus on the vast numbers of failing marriages and subsequent swathes of broken families, which impacts heavily on affiliated children and creates a distorted view of family for the younger generation. What further complicates the issue is that a different perspective is often held by different genders, making many problems potentially divisive and extremely difficult to resolve.
Ironically, one of the main issues in modern relationships is also something that has been of huge benefit to society as a whole. This is equality, which has evolved gradually over the last century to deliver equal rights and living standards to female members of society, and subsequently served to change the accepted dynamics within a relationship. While no fair minded individual could deny the positive impact of equality on society, it has posed issues to couples of a particular generation with regards to their roles and expectations.
Even as late as the 1960’s, women were seen predominantly as home makers and mothers, while the man of the household would work and earn a wage. This type of single income family, supported in some instances by government support or benefits, subsisted largely without exception and offered clearly defined roles to individuals. Also, it often meant that males were more educated and independently ambitious to succeed, whereas women’s were often left co-dependent on their partners and without an identity outside of their home.
This began to change, and through the 1970’s and 1980’s women began to benefit from increasing equality to become more independent and able to succeed as individual entities. This also changed their attitudes towards relationships, with a growing emphasis on both individuals working to provide income and sharing the responsibility’s of parenthood and household chores. As this evolution has continued, we can see the results through the diverse types of family unit in existence today, with roles no longer gender specific or based upon a common social value.
The problems are found within relationships where the male still retain old fashioned values and perceptions, which will no doubt have been installed during his own upbringing and by the example shown by his parents. In this instance, a two income family or a distribution of household duties can be something that he begins to resent over time, as it is entirely opposed to his specific understanding of the world. This may well be wrong and extremely narrow minded, but it is still prevalent and causing issues in contemporary union.
Two things can happen as a consequence of this. Firstly, a man can feel emasculated as he is no longer the sole or primary earner within a household, as this challenge to their perceived status stands directly opposed to what they have been taught to believe. Secondary to this, a male can become resentful of a relationship that does not entirely match their specific ideals, especially if it is one that they deem to reflect their own weakness or vulnerability. These issues may only occur in instances where an individual has been nurtured with old fashioned ideals, but this accounts for a significant demographic of people married or in a relationship today.
This particular problem may be generational, but it could well pose far greater issues for future generations. For example, although the issues of equality within a relationship may well be specific to a particular age demographic, these have a significant consequence on the children involved in any disagreements or instances of separation. This creates a negative perception of marriage and commitment as they enter adulthood, and may well prompt a cycle of entirely different but equally challenging problems.
This is a common misconception concerning generational relationship problems, as it is assumed that they will cease to be significant as social circumstances change. However, this does not account for the impact that they have on individuals who are affected, as they develop a particular understanding and expectation about committed relationships, which can often be negative in their nature. Subsequently, modern relationship problems must also be considered as part of disruptive cycle, and the potential cause of issues for future generations.