The late eighteenth century marked a period of changing expectations about marriage: companionship came to coexist as a norm alongside older patriarchal standards, men and women began to see their roles in more disparate ways, expectations about the satisfaction of marriage grew, and gender distinctions between husbands and wives became more complicated. Marital strife was an inevitable outcome of these changing expectations. The difficulties that rose, including abuse, a lack of sexual communication, and domestic violence (frequently brought on by alcholism) differ little from those with which couples struggle today.
Breaking The Bonds is an imaginative and original account that brings to light a strongly communicative world in which neighbors knew of, discussed, and even came to the aid of those locked in unhappy marriages.
About the Author
Merril D. Smith is the editor of Sex and Sexuality in Early America and Breaking the Bonds: Marital Discord in Pennsylvania, 1730-1830. She lives in National Park, New Jersey.