Chapter

“I’m a Much Better Citizen Than If I Were Single”

Miriam G. Reumann

in American Sexual Character

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780520238350
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930049 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238350.003.0005
“I’m a Much Better Citizen Than If I Were Single”

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Postwar Americans concurrently supported marriage as the cornerstone of personal fulfillment and believed it to be in crisis. They endorsed the institution in unprecedented numbers, as the vast majority of the population chose wedlock over single life, and marriage became increasingly central to national ideology. Kinsey's studies reported that less than half of Americans' sexual activity took place between spouses, and observers imparted the prevalence and devastating effects of premarital sex, infidelity, divorce, and other ills. The marital relationship meant many things to postwar observers. At a moment of intense pronatalism, it was the necessary setting for the birth and rearing of legitimate children. Generally understood as an intensely private realm based on an emotional bond between unique individuals, marriage promised personal happiness and fulfillment. In addition, it was the central, and to some the only, proper setting for sexual expression.

Keywords: ideology; pronatalism; infidelity; divorce; premarital sex

Chapter.  14821 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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