8 Pages


In the late twentieth century divorce and family breakdown have become commonplace issues, routinely handled by public administrative bodies. We take for granted not only a high divorce rate, but also a highly public means of regulating conflict in marriage. A large bureaucracy of family lawyers, police and social workers, counsellors and therapists is charged with intervention and management of marital breakdown, and occasionally with reconciliation. But while the attendant procedures are firmly located in the public domain, they mostly take place behind closed doors and excite little interest or comment. Only the outrage of intransigent moralists, chilling stories of violent abuse and failing royal marriages provide good copy for today’s newspapers. The routine dramas of sexual antagonism in marriage, though still the stuff of modern novels, are no longer regarded as vehicles for moral lessons or social titillation.