"...[F]or thousands of years, people have been proclaiming a crisis in marriage and pointing backwards to better days. The ancient Greeks complained bitterly about the declining morals of wives. The Romans bemoaned their high divorce rates, which they contrasted with an earlier rate of family stability. The European settlers in America began lamenting the decline of the family and the disobedience of women and children almost as soon as they stepped off the boats.
Worrying about the decay of marriage isn't just a Western habit. In the 1990s, sociologist Amy Kaler, conducting interviews in a region of Southern Africa where divorce had long been common, was surprised to hear people say that marital strife and instability were new to their generation. So Kaler went back and looked at oral histories collected fifty years earlier. She found that the grandparents and great-grandparents of the people she was interviewing in the 1990s had also described their own marital relations as much worse than the marriages of their parents' and grandparents' day. 'The invention of a past filled with good marriages,' Kaler concluded, is one way people express discontent about other aspects of contemporary life."
From Stephanie Coontz's "Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage"