Filter theory deals with homogamy and the way we narrow our marriage market. According to this theory, when looking for potential life partners, we tend to base our eligibility for people to specific criteria which reduce the pool of potential partners to a small number of candidate. Because of this, we limit our choices and select parents who are similar to ourselves One of the major filtering aspects is homogamy—which is defined as dating or marrying someone who has similar social characteristics, such as age and ethnicity.
Some important factors of this concepts are propinquity, physical appearance, and race/ethnicity.
When we speak about propinquity, which refers to demographic location/closeness, we limit who we meet interact, date, and possibly marry, often creating serious relationships with people who we interact in our everyday life. It’s stated that 39 percent of U.S workers have dated a coworker (Benokraitis 220). After taking into consideration geographical closeness, physical appearance becomes more important. Physically attractive people benefit from a “halo effect” which create an expectation to possess many desirable characteristics such as kindness, sexual responsiveness, and good character.
They are also seen as people who are much more happier and successful when in reality there is no correlation; life satisfaction for attractive and less attractive people are the same.
When we speak about ethnicity and race, people around the world tend to marry those within their own racial and ethnic group. In 2010, 91 percent of Americans married someone from their own race and ethnicity, but throughout the years a number of people, specifically men, say they would be willing to marry someone of another race.
But of course, although 82 percent of white men claim that, only 51 percent dated interracially in 2011 (Benokraitis 221). A huge factor that comes with dating someone outside your racial and ethnic groups is your culture. Many immigrant parents prefer their children to date around their own race and ethnicity, but as children assimilate to the American culture, that mindset changes and children’s behavior and their dating preferences become more open to other races and ethnicities.
The social change theory is all about the give and takes of a relationship. This theory states that people continue or/and begin a relationship if what they receive is higher than what they give; often define as the cost and the rewards. Rewards are described as characteristics like intelligence and sense of humor, behaviors like sex and companionship, or resources like money and power. Costs are described as unpleasant behaviors like violence and insults, or losses like lower social class. One resource that people exchange in dating is money. Men are often expected to pay for dinners and gifts. Another could be sexual intercourse. Around 62 percent of American men and 44 percent of American women have done something special for someone because they hoped it would lead to sex (Benokraitis 226).
As for the equity theory, which is part of the social change theory, proposes that a romantic relationship is stable when both partners are equal and benefit mutually. This theory subscribes to the idea that the greater the fairness and equality in a relationship, the happier and the less stress the people in the relationship are. Balance is a main key in this theory which is believed to develop more healthier relationships. People who receive too much may feel guilty, and people who often give but don’t receive feel angry. The way people perceive their theory defend a lot on the stage of a relationship. For example, people in a long-term relationship are more likely to tolerate inequity because they believe in a more optimistic future, compare to people in a short-term relationship who are willing to leave when they see some type of inconvenience or imbalance. People who find themselves in inequitable relationships will try to eliminate their distress by applying equity, finding balance in the cost and the rewards.
Marriage affects people’s physical and mental health in a variety of ways, but a lot of it is affected by the security and confidence within the relationship. When we speak about physical health, according to a recent Gallup survey, married couples are reported to be the highest well-being (68.8 index score (IS)) compared to those who are single (65 IS), widowed (63.5 IS), cohabiting (63.3 IS), or divorced (55.9 IS) (Benokraitis 282). A lot of it has to do with the resources marriage can provide. Aside for emotional support and wives encouraging good behavior, aspects like economic problems aren’t as stressful because of the support from partners. Single people are defined as second in the list of healthy people. Single women, for example, are more likely to maintain a healthy weight because they are more conscious about their physical appearance. In general, a big factor to their hit well being has to do with their financial stability.
Widowed people come next in the well-being table. Compared to other people, widowed people are healthier and it may be due to age. Although as you grow older your health suffers, aspects like family and health resources are more accessible increasing well-being. As for cohabitants, they have the second lowest well-being scores but they claim to be much happier because of the flexibility of their relationship and the lack of “structure expectations and obligations”. When we talk about separated Americans, they have the lowest score in well-being mainly because of their transition from being married to single. Although there are many different types of separations, when we speak about any of them there’s no denying that the transition can feel like a step back creating an emotional and physical toll on a person. In comparison to separated people, divorced people are higher in well-being because they have already adjusted to their lower economic benefits, lack of companionship, and dealing with being a single parents.
When we talk about mental health, overall, married women are less healthier than married men. They are more likely to live longer than men, but experience mental illnesses like depression. A lot of it has to do with the fact that married men tend to turn to their wives for emotional support, companionship and nurturing, while wives turn to friends and relatives. Topics like stress created by work could be much easier for husbands to talk about with their wives, while wives would feel the need to turn to someone outside the marriage to be considerate and not add any more stress to their partners. Another factor as to why married men are healthier compared to women, mentally, is because wives tend to encourage behaviors that benefit their partners in the long run, such as regular medical check-ups, or other changing lifestyle habits such as drinking, smoking, or drug use.
Women, in general, tend to be more attentive, emotionally wise, in marriages. They are usually the ones who take the burden when relationships are in trouble; take on multiple responsibilities, inside and outside the household; and refuse to acknowledge their own health for the sake of their families well being. For example, an employed woman who works a 9 to 5 job, while having children, and maintain the responsibilities of a housemother, must not have time to step back and focus on the emotional burden they have because of the liability she’s expected to provide. Some researchers state that men benefit more from a marriage because women tend to not obligate/expect power or authority in a relationship compared to men (Benokraitis 283). Above all, the quality of a marriage is a huge factor in the health within partners. Couples who experience trouble in their marriage are more vulnerable to illnesses compared to happier couples. A common example is stress and the tole it can create on a marriage. This conflict can lead to even riskier health problems like high blood pressure, which can even lead to heart diseases. Aside from that, emotional stress can create even more psychological problems creating even more unhappiness and health problems to a marriage.
When speaking about the effects divorce has on adults, the factors consist of not only physical and emotional well being, but economical as well. Starting with physical well being, married people are most likely to have higher levels of physical well being. Aspects like poor health like diabetes, chronicle pain, etc. can lead to divorce. For divorcees, its reported that those who are older than 50 suffer lower levels of physical well being; especially those who have been divorced for several years, suffering around 20 percent more when it comes to chronic health problems (Benokraitis 439). When it comes to emotional well being, married people tend to succeed with higher in this aspect due to their access to emotional support, and having less financial stress. Statistically speaking, 81 percent of more married people compared to 73 percent of divorced people report good emotional health (Benokraitis 439). A lot of this consist of the loss factors that come with divorce. When people divorce they lose aspects like financial stability and emotional support. With such struggles, divorce people, specifically women, are at higher risk of living in poverty.
When speaking about the relation and effects of divorce and economical well being in adults, factors like alimony and child support play a huge role. It is often clear that divorce can create economical setbacks. Alimony is often paid by males because they earn more than their ex-spouses, and traditionally speaking, women are usually the ones who stop their professional life to create a stable household living and to raise children. When compared with alimony, child support is much more common in divorced families. According to a study in 2009, of 14 million parents of 22 children in custody, around half of them had some type of child support agreement (Benokraitis 442).
Partners who often receive the full child support payment include people who have a higher education degree, work at a full-time job, or are 40 and above. On the other hand, parents who receive the least are often young non-married black mothers, with no high school diploma, and who often depend on public services and assistance (Benokraitis 442). When people have more resources, like a college degree and a full-time job, it is often easier to be financially stable and are more likely to marry someone who can provide just as much as them. As for someone who is young and doesn’t have a high school degree, it is often more difficult to receive support from their ex-partners because they must be having a difficult time stabilizing themselves.
As for the effects divorce has on children, it is often more their emotional well being that is affected compared to their physical well being. It is shown that children of divorced parents come across difficulties that include mental illnesses and behavior problems. One of the factors as to why these children suffer from those difficulties is the way parents deal with their relationship problems leading to divorce. Children who are exposed to these problems often suffer from internal problems— sadness, loneliness—and external problems—impulsive behavior, quick-tempered (Benokraitis 444). This often results because of the way parents deal with their divorce. The attitude adults may have towards their divorce can take a bigger tole on the children than the divorce itself. For example, growing up seeing a constant fight all the time between parents can create negative connotations towards future relationships or even develop the anger and frustration parents reflect when they fight or argue.
The quality of parenting is also a huge factor in the way children are affected post-divorce. If children see a positive relationship between parents, it is often more beneficial for the children’s well being, especially in the long run. The way we measure social class is by socioeconomic status (SES). The most common social classes are known as the low-SES, the middle-SES, and the high-SES. When we speak about the relation between parenting and social classes, it differs throughout each SES. Starting with the low-SES families—often at the bottom of the economic scale— these families consist of single household parents, or parents who have little to no education, and work minimum wage jobs. A common factor in these low-SES families is adultification. This factor plays a role in older children who hold huge responsibilities like taking care of younger siblings, doing house chores, among other adult duties which can lead to mental damage and stress as they grow up.
As for middle-SES families, parents usually have a good education and work good jobs. They often include parents with higher educational degrees and good work occupations. Because of this, these families often have more resources in their lives, that benefit not only the parents but the children emotional and social state. One of those benefits being parents spending more time with their children. Middle-SES mothers talk to their children much more than low-SES mothers, which lead to children being more comfortable in expanding their vocabulary and being more self-expressive (Benokraitis 346).
In high-SES families, the parent’s occupations are mainly professional and obtain higher college degrees like a Ph.D. These parents often take occupations in prestige work such as law or medicine. These parents also have much more resources than low-SES families and middle-SES families. These resources often include better school, better services, less economical stress, and better physical well being. In high-SES families, from birth to age 17, it has been stated that families spend more than twice as much in comparison to low-SES families on a child (Benokraitis 347). This, of course, benefits children in the long run, creating better opportunities for their future.