In this surprising landmark book, family historian Stephanie Coontz explodes every cherished assumption about marriage, starting with the notion of the traditional marriage. Forget Ozzie and Harriet. Coontz reveals that through most of history, marriage was not a relationship based on mutual love between a breadwinner husband and an at-home wife but an institution devoted to acquiring in-laws and improving the family labor force. How did marriage evolve from the loveless, arranged unions that have endured from the dawn of civilization into the sexualized, volatile relationships of today? Coontz argues that the Victorians, with their radical emphasis on marital intimacy and celebration of the individual, simultaneously made marriage more satisfying and paved the way for alternative lifestyles to thrive: divorce, gay marriage, living together, single parenting. The diminished role of heterosexual marriage in our society is not an aberration, insists Coontz, but the consequence of centuries of irrevocable social change. "Marriage, A History is an engaging narrative of astonishing scope and depth that will stand as a milestone of social history and provoke debate for years to come.Coontz, Stephanie is the author of 'Marriage, a History How Love Conquered Marriage', published 2006 under ISBN 9780143036678 and ISBN 014303667X.