Do Married Couples Slight Their Family Members as Well as Their Friends? / “Greedy Marriages”
Yeah, you will remember that Jesus says that the spiritual family of God – other people who believe in Jesus – are to take precedence over your own spouse or children.
Does the American evangelical church live this teaching of Jesus’ out? Nope – they worship the nuclear family and put non-relatives at the bottom of the list of priorities.
- Intensive coupling is a cultural phenomenon
Published on April 21, 2011 by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D. in Living Single
… What interests me about this is how individual experiences map onto what could be a bigger cultural phenomenon. The author believes that when two people marry, their social circles should increase, as they welcome one another’s family and friends into their expanded social network. Instead, her son withdrew into an insular twosome with his wife.
Those who espouse the supposedly transformative powers of marriage often make a similar argument: When people marry, their social horizons broaden. The problem is that the data are not always so cooperative. I’ve written before about the national surveys showing that adults who have always been single are more likely to visit, call, or write their siblings and parents, and to socialize with friends or neighbors, than are adults who are currently married. (The previously married are in between.) Always-single adults are also more likely than married adults to provide emotional or practical support to parents, siblings, friends, and neighbors.
In previous posts here and at All Things Single, I’ve focused on the slighting of single friends by people who become seriously coupled. The mad mom’s tale reminds me that it may not be just friends who are nudged to the side. And, my reaction to that essay – hey, it is not (just) personal that your son seems to be shunning you, it’s cultural – reminds me that the same may be true when couples ignore the people they once regarded as good friends. Maybe it is not (just) personal, it’s cultural.
I think the phenomenon (sometimes called “greedy marriage,” because couples want all of the time and attention and affection for themselves) is probably especially difficult for those who straddle different cultural eras. The “intensive coupling” that is commonplace today (though hardly characteristic of all couples) is a relatively recent practice. If you can remember a time when married couples were more expansive, and you expected your kids or friends to be that way, too, then their retreat to we-are-onedom must be particularly painful.
By Chris Berdik
Published: Sunday, September 16, 2007
More precisely, marriage can be greedy, according to Naomi Gerstel of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Natalia Sarkisian of Boston College, who have written a paper called “Marriage: the Good, the Bad, and the Greedy.” Analyzing two nationwide social surveys, they found that married couples spend less time than singles calling, writing, and visiting with their friends, neighbors, and extended family. According to their research, married people are also less likely to give friends and neighbors emotional support and practical help, such as with household chores.
Gerstel and Sarkisian’s research flies in the face of recent academic studies and political speeches arguing that marriage is the endangered cornerstone of a healthy society, benefiting the mental, physical, and financial well-being of children and adults, and, ultimately, their fellow citizens. They argue that marriage may actually, albeit unwittingly, have just the opposite effect – sapping the strength of American communities and diminishing our ability to think and act for the common good.
“Many, bemoaning the retreat from marriage, also mourn the loss of community,” they wrote in the Fall 2006 issue of Contexts, a journal of the American Sociological Association. “What these nostalgic discussions do not recognize, ironically, is that marriage and community are often at odds with one another.”
…Over the last century, Americans have become more romantic about marriage, and that’s not always a good thing, according to some scholars.