December 8, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

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

2 min read

Simpi Srivastava reviews Kristin Celello’s Making Marriage Work (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009) observing how it investigates the transformation of marriage as a social, urban, or religious obligation.

Author- Kristin Celello

Publisher and Date of Publication- Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009

Dr. Kristin Celello in her book Making Marriage Work examines the mainstream culture with the help of sociological research on marriage from each decade of the twentieth century. Historian Kristin Celello has composed a convincing history of how the metaphor ‘marriage-as-work’ rose through the span of the twentieth century.

Dr. Celello is Associate Professor of History at Queens College, City University of New York. She earned her doctorate in History from the University of Virginia in 2004 and was a 2006 post-doctoral fellow at Emory University Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life. Other than being an author of Making Marriage Work, she also has co-edited a volume titled Domestic Tensions, National Anxieties: Global Perspectives on Marriage, Crisis, and Nation, Oxford University Press, 2016. Her current book project is After Divorce: Parents, Children, and the Making of the Modern American Family

In the book, Kristin Celello tracks how academics, popular media and marriage advisers helped develop a national discourse about marriage, putting the weight for ‘making marriage work’ extensively on the shoulders of women.

Scrutinize any magazine stand and one will undoubtedly notice a large number of articles prompting readers on the best way to solidify a marital relationship. Reality TV and talk shows additionally fortify the heteronormative models of a healthy marriage. In Making Marriage Work, historian Kristin Celello whose expertise includes history of marriage, divorce and counseling, offers a profound record of marriage and divorce in the United States in the twentieth century, concentrating on the idea of marriage as ‘work’, and uncovers how the notion that ‘work ethic should be applied to marriage’ turned out to be a major component of American’s collective consciousness.

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