Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College and is the director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families. She is the author of seven books, including "A Strange Stirring": The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s (2011); the award-winning Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage (2005), which was cited the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage; and The Way We Never Were (1992, revised and expanded 2016). She is also the editor of American Families: A Multicultural Reader (2008). She is interested in the trade-offs and paradoxes of historical changes in family life, gender relations, and intimate partnerships. Coontz has appeared on numerous television news and talk programs, including "The Colbert Report," "Oprah," "The Today Show," and msnbc's "The Cycle," and frequently offers media training workshops for academics. She also regularly writes op-eds for the New York Times and cnn.
Today Americans spend less than half of their years between 18 and 55 as part of a married couple, down from 80 percent in the 1960s. And 41 percent of people 55 and older are unmarried. Marriage is not dead, but it is no longer the main place we make all our decisions and life transitions, or incur obligations to others. This lecture describes the role and dynamics of unmarried relationships and show how these social changes are changing all the "rules" of marriage itself.