Marriage has traditionally been seen as a public, as well as a private commitment, namely a declaration that people would stay together and bring up children together. Increasingly marriage is seen as a private transaction, an emotional arrangement with no public ramifications, and which may not be formalized at all. When it ceases to be satisfactory, it dissolves. Society, through the state, is then obliged to care for any wider consequences as a result of the children facing emotional and financial impoverishment.
Social attitudes to people intending to marry, and many of the popular forms of marriage counselling, encourage couples to consider the intricacies of human relationships and the marriage bond in a narrow, personal perspective, when present-day needs require individuals to have a conscious responsibility to society as a whole. Couples joined by marriage vows may be overwhelmed by the wider demands made on them and have no rational or adequate methods for assuming this responsibility.