Economizing Marriage

Published 19 May 2017

Economics as one of the basis in marriage: fact or fantasy? Perhaps no single facet of human behavior in the past had related economics and marriage. It is deceiving to assume that, marriage life or family life rather is only about relationships as defined by a particular culture. Freud reportedly believed love and work to be the major sources of meaning in life. The “myth of separate worlds”, an unrealistic idea that work and family are separate entities, has existed since industrialization. But, certainly, economics and marriage is inextricably combined as one. How?

By definition given by Encyclopedia Britannica, marriage is the coming together of man and woman, both legally and socially. Upon marriage, a man and a woman are joined together as one and so married couples adjust to one another on the basis of their roles. In the earlier part of the twentieth century, family roles of women and men were considered to be oppositional. A father assumes to be the economic provider, while mothers are “expressive leaders” of the house—serving to nurture her husband and children physically, mentally, and emotionally. The provider role of the husband has been traditionally expressed through economics and success in earning more income for the family increased a husband’s status in the community. Regardless of the pressures on men to be good providers, many perceive this role to have greater benefits than costs. Even though the image of the husband as breadwinner has been firmly confirmed in our culture for al least 150 years, wives has always contributed to the family income directly through goods and services they have produced for exchange value. Many homemakers still contribute in this way. Other wives, however, work outside the home to provide more income.

But as society undergoes transition, these traditional roles of a father and mother changed and began to diminish as women entered the labor force in the large numbers during the World War II. Contemporary marriage has gradually shifted from a partnership based on economics and childbearing to one based on companionship. As described by John Mueller, president and chief economist of LBMC, we can differentiate marketing economics and household economics. And that is, marketing looks for income and competence while household economics attempts for cooperation between family members and self-sacrifice. In essence, we cannot separate economics from marriage because each and every family allocates resources for the family. Both husbands and wives are earning money, directly or indirectly for the family to survive.


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