Why Love is the Greatest Threat to Marriage

W

In recent days there has been much discussion about the meaning of marriage and threats to it. It is with some interest then that I am reading Marriage. A History. From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz.

Coontz shows that for most of human history marriage had very little to do with love and intimacy. It served goals such as securing links between families, the transfer of wealth; increasing social standing; regulating social relationships among adults; and the production legitimate heirs. While a husband and wife may have hoped for love and intimacy, this was very much secondary to the purposes for which they married.

During the 20th century the social ends served by marriage were dissipating. Children could be born out of wedlock and be well regarded; women no longer needed a male protector and could enter the workforce to support themselves; adults could remain single and be fully accepted in society; sexual freedom broke the nexus between marriage and sexual intercourse, and effective contraception meant sexual intercourse could be pursued without the likelihood of pregnancy and the commitments of parenting.

Marriage today is no longer necessary to having children, securing social status, transferring wealth, or gaining entry to adult society. This has radically redefined its meaning. People enter marriages in order to celebrate and secure a relationship of love and intimacy. Coontz calls this a revolution. It has made marriages much more personally rewarding than at any point in history yet at the same time has stripped away the social benefits of marriage and thus left them more fragile than ever, dependent entirely upon the capacity of married couples to maintain love and intimacy over the course of their lives. As paradoxical as it sounds, love is not only the greatest possibility, but also the greatest threat to marriage.

0 Shares

17
Leave a Reply

avatar
17 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
Peter Robert GreenChristian WrightAnne HydeGershon NimbalkerDave Richards Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Pip Miner
Guest

Pip Miner liked this on Facebook.

Stephan Winter
Guest

Stephan Winter liked this on Facebook.

Kim Burwood
Guest

Kim Burwood liked this on Facebook.

Lara Harle
Guest

Lara Harle liked this on Facebook.

Philip Zylstra
Guest
Philip Zylstra

That is a lot to process. Thanks again Scott.

Ben Mckinnon
Guest

Ben Mckinnon liked this on Facebook.

Philip Zylstra
Guest

Philip Zylstra liked this on Facebook.

Robert Cunningham
Guest

Robert Cunningham liked this on Facebook.

Luke Norman
Guest

Luke Norman liked this on Facebook.

Karen Lee
Guest

Karen Lee liked this on Facebook.

Meralyn Zimmer
Guest

Meralyn Zimmer liked this on Facebook.

Dave Richards
Guest

Dave Richards liked this on Facebook.

Anne Hyde
Guest
Anne Hyde

I love it when you get all “sociological” on us. Well said! When I look at the past history of my family (as a genealogist) and see how women bounced from marriage to marriage due to assault, desertion, death and divorce to avoid destitution; I can’t help thinking that the reality of 2015 is somewhat better – though not perfect of course.

Gershon Nimbalker
Guest

Gershon Nimbalker liked this on Facebook.

Anne Hyde
Guest

Anne Hyde liked this on Facebook.

Christian Wright
Guest

Christian Wright liked this on Facebook.

Peter Robert Green
Guest

Peter Robert Green liked this on Facebook.

By Scott
Share
Tweet
0 Shares