In this fourth edition ofMarriages and Families: Diversity and Change,there is a conscious effort to present a continuity of major issues, concerns, and themes on contemporary marriages, families, and intimate relationships. Our initial resolve when writing the first edition of this textbook has not changed, and it informs this fourth edition as well. The subtitle of this book,Diversity and Change,continues to be the major thematic framework that runs through all 15 chapters and is informed by the scholarship of a wide variety of scholars, most notably scholars of color and feminist scholars in sociology and from across a number of other academic disciplines. The emphasis on diversity helps students to understand that there are many different forms of intimate relationships beyond the traditional heterosexual, two-parent, white, middle-class family and the legally sanctioned heterosexual marriage. As we show throughout this textbook, marriages and families more generally include single-parent families, headed by women or men; lesbian or gay families with or without children and with or without a live-in partner; adoptive and foster families; biracial and multiracial families; cohabiting couples involving heterosexual or homosexual partners; and blended families that emerge following divorce, remarriage, or simply when people bring to a new relationship children from a previous intimate relationship. In this context, we treat marriages and families as social constructs whose meanings have changed over time and from place to place. Consistent with this position, we continue to give high priority to framing our discussions of marriages and families in historical context. Most, if not all, aspects of our lives, are shaped by larger historical circumstances. To be born during a particular historical period is to experience intimacy, marriage, family life, childbearing and child rearing, family decision making, household labor, and marital and family satisfaction (to name a few) in particular ways that are germane to the time, place, and social structure within which we find ourselves. For example, the economic growth and prosperity of the 1950s, a period during which the nuclear family was idealized, encouraged or made possible this particular family structure. During this period both women and men married at early ages, had children within a relatively short interval from the wedding, and generally stayed married until the death of one spouse. For many families, a husband's income was sufficient to support the family. Thus, wives and mothers typically remained at home fulfilling domestic and child-care roles. Although economic conditions have changed, now often requiring multiple wage earners, this 1950s "idealized" image continues to dominate popular discourse on marriages and families. In the 1990s, however, most children were growing up either in single-parent families or in families where both parents worked outside the home. Framing our discussion of marriages and families in historical context not only provides students with knowledge about marriages and families in earlier periods of U.S. history but also enables them to understand and interpret the changes that are occurring around them in marriages and families today. Our objectives in this fourth edition are simple yet significant: to help students recognize and understand the dynamic nature of marriages, families, and intimate relationships; to enable students to recognize, confront, and dispel prominent myths about marriages, families, and intimate relationships; to help students see the interactive relationships of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation; to encourage an informed openness in student attitudes that will empower them to make informed choices and decisions in their own marriage, family, and intimate relationships; to enable students to see how marriages, families, and intimate reSchwartz, Mary Ann is the author of 'Marriages and Families Diversity and Change', published 2002 under ISBN 9780130979568 and ISBN 0130979562.