20 May 2022


Family Marriage in Media

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 2397

Pages: 8

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The Concept of Marriage

Marriage is the formally or legally accepted union of a woman and man, or in certain dominions a union of humans of the same sex, with the intention of having a family and living together. This usually occurs when individuals have attained a certain age in adulthood where they are able to make personal, sensible and mature decisions without consent from their parents. The relationship begins weeks, months or years before the individuals decide to marry, where the two are involved in courtship which is aimed at knowing and learning about each other as a way of establishing compatibility in their personalities. Thereafter, the relationship or union is made permanent by law where the couple is expected to stay loyal and faithful to each other, making vows to love one another until death parts them. Most marriages are made formal in a wedding ceremony, during the couple will exchange their vows before God, led by a priest and swear their loyalty and faithfulness before a congregation, after which they start living together, engage in their first sexual intercourse as the Christian values demand, then plan ahead to have a family. “The wedding also integrates a couple with their community ‐ it prevents couple withdrawal” (Lecture 8).

Traditionally, marriage has always been between a man and a woman who come together for the purpose of having biological children and raising a family together, but recently same-sex marriages have become common and legal in some countries, including the US which claims that the sexuality may have developed several years back during the World War I and II, where men in the military were forced to spend days and nights together in the military camps, leading to this same-sex sexual attraction (Lecture 7). Normal man to woman relationships and marriages are the ideal picture of what is expected in the society, where adults bear children and raise families of different sizes as they wish with the father, mother and children family structure. The members of the family are expected to have a union, culture and a way of life that is unique in terms of the interrelationships between parents, parents-children and children-children as they grow. Moreover, the relationships span out to the society and how families relate with their friends, neighbors and to the general community they live in. Despite the rules of conduct and the values held by individual family units, several factors however affect these relationships including changes in personalities, the economic well-being or external influence from the society, thus the relationship between family members may change over time, from a healthy family ties to a very dysfunctional one. On the flipside, a dysfunctional family does not mean an irreversible relationship, but could undergo counseling to regain stability.

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Ideally concerning same-sex relationships and marriage, many religions especially Christianity, perceives it as wrong for a man to have sexual relationship with another man, or women in the same case, thus gay and lesbian relationships have been fought against for years, making those engaged in such relationships conceal their affair and identify. The society still has the stigma surrounding same sex relationships, but slowly, with some countries accepting it as a social human right, gays and lesbians around the world are creeping out of their hiding and openly revealing their identity (Gates, 2008). The later type of marriage is characterized by homosexuals who start living together and may opt to raise a family by adoption or as foster parents, where they take in child or children to raise them as their own with all the basic needs that a normal child requires. In absence of marriage between same-sex couples, or with no adoption, they may have no legal standpoint relative to the children under their care. This means that they have to be legally married or have followed all the legal procedures in adopting a child or children to have all the rights on raising them (Gates & Smith, 2001).

Description of the Chosen Media

“Desperate Housewives” is an American television series about four women, Lynette, Bree, Susan and Gabby, living in a suburban neighborhood of a small town of Fairview, examining challenges in their lifestyles, relationships, marriages relative to their friendship. The story revolves around the lives of these women, their secrets, gossiping, their marriages to different husbands, their children, and their on and off relationships due to their personal differences and their attachments to men in the neighborhood. The main relationships that lasted was between Lynette and Tom Scavo’s, where they raised a family, though amid drama, but managed to raise more than three children who were biologically theirs. Another long-term relationship was that of Carlos and Gabriel Solis’s, a Latino couple with no children that faces challenges with Carlos being convicted and serving a jail-term, and also Gabriel’s spendthrift and expensive lifestyle. The couples have to adopt a child, Juanita, at some point in their relationship when Gabriel does not want children of her own (Dines & Humez, 2011).

Susan on the other hand has daughter, Julie, from a previous relationship with Karl, has a somewhat long-term affair, though on and off, with Mike Delfino, a plumber who has a drug problem and has lived in the town for a while. Bree is a clean and perfectionist Jewish woman who loves cooking and seems to be dominant and controlling in her relationships. She has two children, firstborn son Andrew and daughter Danielle, with her late husband Rex, and introduced Orson as her next husband into the family. Andrew has a huge and long-term fight with her mother over his sexuality because he chose to be gay and engages in a gay relationship. An African-American family of a single mother and two teenage children, both boys, moves in into the small town, seemingly having secrets hidden behind closed windows of their home and an unmistakably violent nature.

Marriage as Depicted in Desperate Housewives

The play illustrates several marriages among the friends that live on the same lane in the town and living within reach of each other, sharing gossips, parties, weddings and funerals. Marriage calls for certain sacrifices that a couple must make, and calls for a balance between family time and work, or between a couple and their children. “Men and women both want to balance work and family in their own lives; and balance autonomy and commitment in their relationships” (Gerson, 2007 p.A9). Traditionally in all societies, the woman does better handling home affairs while the husband is considered the bread-winner who holds a job and spends most of his time away from the family. Tom and Lynette Scavo have been blessed with a healthy family of six, but it proves difficult for them to raise all those kids while the couple went to work, thus one of them had to sacrifice and stay at home for the children. The first setting was expected, as Tom went to work as Lynette stayed at home with the children, and did all the house chores expected of her as she had all the time. Later own in the play, Tom lost his job and after a while of both of them being without a job, Lynette felt the need to work to fend for the family needs. Tom had to feel the pinch of staying at home and taking care of the children, which followed complaints due to boredom and too much woman-oriented house chores. When the couple had to go to work at the same time, they had to hire a nanny from time to time, and luckily an old woman living in the same neighborhood often volunteered to stand in for them. Generally, their marriage is not threatened for a while, until the family lost their jobs and decided to open a family business, and then needed the service of a young man Rick. Lynette and Rick spend most times together at the restaurant when Tom had an accident and had to stay home nursing his injuries. Rick mistakes her closeness and her love for his cooking skills, for sexual feelings and this upsets Tom when he discovers it, pushing the marriage to the edge almost resulting in divorce. Contrary to Lecture 2 on Hunters and Gatherers societies, where divorce also occurs but before children come into the picture, divorce in the current society happens any time and all the time, whether children are involved or not. However, in both societies, sex is meant for procreation and for recreation (Lecture 2, p. 4).

Carlos and Gabriel’s relationship is one of a kind, the former being wealthy and lavishes his wife with all the expensive gifts she demanded. Gabriel is portrayed as a gold-digging woman, a former model who lives by fashion, and grabs every expensive jewelry, clothing, handbags and all sorts of high-end fashion. She loves her husband, but more importantly her body shape which she is not ready to risk ‘restructuring’ by being pregnant and having children. This healthy relationship is however tested when Carlos is away serving a prison sentence and a young man who happens to be their gardener catches Gabriel’s attention, resulting in a sexual affair. Gabriel’s alignment towards an expensive life and wealthy people attracts her to a prominent Mayor Victor, and during her and Carlos’s separation, she marries the Mayor but the relationship does not last past the wedding when she discovers that Victor’s intentions of getting married. This leads her back to Carlos but finds him in a relationship with another woman, but eventually they realize how strong their relationship was, move in back together and before long the idea of introducing a child in the family is imminent. They adopt a girl, Juanita, who strengthens the family bond, and then later Gabriel gives up her desire for a model-like body and has a child of her own. The family then gets the normal societal structure of a father, mother and children.

As for Susan Mayer’s marriage life, she has literally raised her daughter Julie by herself after Karl quit the relationship, though still in the picture for his child. Susan has to deal with the issues surrounding raising a teenage child and teach her on sexuality with the aim of protecting her from engaging in meaningless relationships with boys. She however seems to manage to bring up he daughter to be respectful and self-discipline as concerns peer pressure and the urge to have sexual relationships with boys. Her closeness to Julie due to their family of only two, mother and child, enables Susan to educate her daughter on the importance of discipline and being principled, thus prolonging the period she takes to finally explore her sexuality. Lecture 6 on Adolescent Sexuality and Homogamy, explains that open and clear communication about sex and sexuality has proved to be an effective strategy for delaying the age of the first sexual activity (Lecture 6, p. 1). Susan marries her long-term boyfriend Mike twice, and they have a working relationship despite having no children of their own, and amid regular financial problems with Mike’s steady but low-paying plumbing job. Their second wedding ceremony is characterized by very simple event witnessed only by the couple, the priest and Julie due to their financial situation.

Bree’s marriage is not complicated, having had two children by her late husband Rex, then gets into a relationship with Orson Horge. They have sexual issues as Bree is more conservative and reserved in terms of sexual activity and Orson seems deprived of his conjugal rights as a husband. Contrary to Lesson 3 on Agrarian relationships where the pleasure of sex came from having babies to fulfill a duty, the current society perceives sex as part of marriage and an activity that is legally acceptable for married couples. The couple also has different ideologies when it comes to making family decisions, and Orson also shows a laid back attitude when it comes to the relationship between Bree and her estranged son’s lifestyle and sexuality (Comstock & Scharrer, 2010, p. 95). He feels like he does not have the rights to control the family unit especially with teenage children coming of age really fast. Andrew is stubborn by nature, a personality that he tries to justify by insinuating that Bree is a bad mother and wife, thus should not have the appropriate standpoint of judging his character and pretending to be in. The teenager constantly drives a wage between his mother and Orson, destabilizing their relationship as Bree has to balance her opinions and avoid taking sides (Akass & McCabe, 2006, p. 200).


A very important message is depicted in this study about marriage and adult relationships relative to marriage. Marriage is a serious commitment with various challenges such as financial, personality changes, differences in ideologies and opinions, and other hurdles that need sacrifice, understanding and support by both parties in the relationship. The need to work in order to earn a living should be very well weighed and considered as different kinds of careers influence marriages differently, and couples must make wise decisions concerning their careers and relationship to avoid straining and living an imbalanced kind of life. Children come with a whole new kind of responsibility and often affect initial balance between career and marriage, therefore couples should work together to make decisions and sacrifices that would maintain the balance between a healthy relationship and successful careers.

It is important that most of the lessons from the study materials relate to and are similar to the message from the television series Desperate Housewives about marriage as it shows that the details illustrates real-life situations. It is exactly what presently happens in the social arena, so that those yet to get into serious relationships that may lead to marriages would know what to expect in future. Different social classes, represented by Carlos and Gabriel Solis’s affluent lifestyle, Lynette ad Bree’s middle class with medium income and low-class life painted by Mike and Susan’s unemployment record in the play, helps to understand how the economic well-being affects relationships. For instance, Gabriel fits in Carlos’s life because she loves living expensively and he generously provides for that. For the Scavo’s, their living standard with an on-off employment represents a marriage that has to make sacrifices and share chores in order to raise a large family. It also illustrates the difficulties of bringing up a family with many children, especially one with stubborn and destructive twins, and the challenges they bring concerning difference in the punitive nature of parents. Parents also learn that they need to shape the behavior of their children at an early age to avoid uncouth personality and to yield a healthy sexuality as they grow up. As concerns race, the African-America family clearly showed the violent nature of African-Americans and how they quickly resort to violence when they have frictions with other people.

In comparison to the life illustrated in Desperate Housewives, there is another American television series called Have and Have-Nots, where different families have varying types of relationships and different social classes. In terms of races, most of the relationships are same-race, with African-Americans having relationships with each other as with the white families. However, there is a white gay teenager who loves and wants to have sexual relationship with an African-American teenager. The setting is more modern than in Desperate Housewives, with a seemingly more open gay sexuality depicted in the play. The violent nature of African-Americans in both is illustrated, with Candice, Benny and Warlock on revenge missions threatening, injuring and even killing their enemies. It would be interesting to compare marriages between different races, how they handle their differences and how they would bring up cross-race children.


Akass, K. & McCabe, J. (2006). Reading ‘ Desperate Housewives:’ Beyond the White Picket Fence. I. B. Tauris . Retrieved from http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/The%20arts/Film%20TV%20%20radio/Television/Reading%20Desperate%20Housewives%20Beyond%20the%20White%20Picket%20Fence.aspx?menuitem=%7BBA844C8F-B8DF-4A36-ABAE-36571F47526C%7D

Comstock, G. & Scharrer, E. (2010). Media and the American Child . Cambridge: Academic Press.

Dines, Gail & Humez, J. M. (2011). Gender, Race, and Class in Media: Diversity among Same-Sex Couples and Their Children. A Critical Reader . Sage Gates.

Gerson, K. (2007). What Do Women and Men Want? Many of the same things-but our system contributes to gender conflicts over work, parenting, and marriage. The American Prospect , 18(3): ProQuest A8

Lecture 2. (2016). Hunting and Gathering Societies . Retrieved from https://bboldwestbury.sln.suny.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/displayLearningUnit?course_id=_23711_1&content_id=_190783_1

Lecture 7. (2016).  A History of the Gay Movement and Same Sex Marriage in the US. Retrieved from https://bboldwestbury.sln.suny.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/displayLearningUnit?course_id=_23711_1&content_id=_190809_1

Lecture 8. (2016). The Wedding, Marriage, and Intimacy . Retrieved from https://bboldwestbury.sln.suny.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/displayLearningUnit?course_id=_23711_1&content_id=_190811_1

Macomber, J. E., Badgett, M. V. L., Gates. G. & Chambers, K.. (2007). Adoption and Foster Care by Lesbian and Gay Parents in the United States. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute & The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law.

Smith & Gates, G.J. (2011). Gay and Lesbian Families in the United States: Same-sex unmarried partner households. Washington DC: Human Rights Campaign Report. Print.

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