What You Lose When You Gain a Spouse
What if marriage is not the social good that so many believe and want it to be? by M. Catron
This is similar to a study that came out a few years ago that I blogged about, where researches dubbed marriages “Greedy Marriages,” because when people get married, they tend to turn inwards and ignore neighbors and family members (single adults generally do not do this, according to the study).
In America today, it’s easy to believe that marriage is a social good—that our lives and our communities are better when more people get and stay married.
There have, of course, been massive changes to the institution over the past few generations, leading the occasional cultural critic to ask: Is marriage becoming obsolete? But few of these people seem genuinely interested in the answer.
More often the question functions as a kind of rhetorical sleight of hand, a way of stirring up moral panic about changing family values or speculating about whether society has become too cynical for love.
In popular culture, the sentiment still prevails that marriage makes us happy and divorce leaves us lonely, and that never getting married at all is a fundamental failure of belonging.
But speculation about whether or not marriage is obsolete overlooks a more important question: What is lost by making marriage the most central relationship in a culture?