The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Working makes it hard to work for a just marriage

Workplace policies, school schedules and social programs constructed on the assumption that male-breadwinner families would always be the norm have changed some-but not enough, not as fast as families have changed.

Now, in fact, when both husbands and wives work outside the home, there's the presumption that the obligation of each is first to the workplace.

In this society, working to establish a just marriage is an issue larger than any one couple can manage.

The market model of society presupposes that everyone who works is free to respond to the demands of the market. For that reason, the crisis of the family today is actually built into the organization of modern, industrial, market-driven societies.

It's not surprising, therefore, that the family is a constant juggling act of disparate and multiple ambitions-requiring maximum mobility on the one hand with the obligations of being married and raising children on the other. A society that rewards people for selfishness shouldn't be surprised that it faces a crisis in families. If both women and men are equally devoted to the marketplace and its demands, children will obviously suffer. But so will the marriage, even if there are no children.

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