African-American, European-American, and Biracial Couples’ Meanings for and Experiences in Marriage
One need look no further than the differing statistics in the marital status of African Americans and European Americans to determine that ethnicity matters in the marital experience. According to U.S. census figures (1993), 29% of Black men and women under the age of 35 are divorced or separated, whereas 15% of White men and women under the age of 35 are so designated. Moreover, 63% of African-American men and women under 35 have never married, whereas 41% of European-American men and women in the same age group have never married. Clearly, there are quantitative sociological differences in the marital experience between the two ethnic groups. But are there qualitative differences in the meanings for and experiences of marriage for these couples? This chapter addresses that question through an exploration of communication as a process of symbolic exchange between marital partners.