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248 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 13 illus., notes, bibl., index

ISBN  978-0-8078-7221-5
Published: February 2012

Making Marriage Work

A History of Marriage and Divorce in the Twentieth-Century United States

By Kristin Celello

By the end of World War I, the skyrocketing divorce rate in the United States had generated a deep-seated anxiety about marriage. This fear drove middle-class couples to seek advice, both professional and popular, in order to strengthen their relationships. In Making Marriage Work, historian Kristin Celello offers an insightful and wide-ranging account of marriage and divorce in America in the twentieth century, focusing on the development of the idea of marriage as "work." Throughout, Celello illuminates the interaction of marriage and divorce over the century and reveals how the idea that marriage requires work became part of Americans' collective consciousness.

About the Author

Kristin Celello is assistant professor of history at Queens College, City University of New York.


"A lively history. . . . Accessible and enjoyable too."
--The Feminist Review

"A lucid description of the rise and sociological impact of the concept that spouses must work hard to make their marriage work."
--Catholic News Service

"The book's strength is in demonstrating the tenacity of the idea that marriages can be saved through hard work and the persistence of gender imbalance, which continues to place the burden of the effort on women."

"An intellectual and cultural history of modern marriage and divorce leavened with rich insights into married love and labor. Celello revises and refines the history of twentieth-century marriage to a story of experts successfully persuading couples that marriage requires work."
--The Journal of American History

"Fascinating. . . . Would be an excellent addition to a course on the sociology of marriage, family or gender roles."
--Journal of Social History

“It certainly claims a place among works about the social history of American marriage.”

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