Is Marriage Natural? — 7 Comments

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  2. The way you define marriage, as permanently coupling with someone who must be perfect, is a childish notion that most mature marriage seekers don’t believe is possible. What makes marriage work is the type of self-sacrificing love that allows each person to fulfill their spouses need to feel loved. This is a need that most people with any knowledge of psychology agrees exists. This ability to fulfill ones emotional (and sexual) needs, along with the ability to provide an environment to raise children well, is part of what makes marriage, or at least monogamy, special.

    • TG: I am not exactly sure what your point it… This post is questioning the idea that marriage is natural. It is not claim that marriage only works if your partner is perfect. In fact, what you’re calling “self-sacrificing love” is closer to the mythical claims that i am questioning…

      Also, you are mixing up needs and strategies. Just because there is a universal human need to feel loved does not mean that the only way to get that need met is through marriage. The idea that one person should meet all of our love, emotional, and sexual needs is asking a lot from one person. Too much if you look at the high divorce rate, which increased when people started to look for soul mates who could meet all their needs.

      • This is a very interesting discussion, I must say. If we ask ourselves whether marriage is natural we need to specify our context for “natural”. For example in the cultural context marriage might seem natural (under assumption that culture itself is natural). On the other hand we might refer to basic needs as the context for discussion and argue that basic needs might be genetically encoded in us, while culture maybe is not, so the context of basic needs could be more “natural”. And many sources list the need to love and be loved as one such need as well as the need to belong, together with the need for power and the need for freedom. Which needs does marriage satisfy and which ones it does not? I am inclined to say that marriage might contradict freedom and in a certain way belonging, while it seem to address love and in some cases power (in a sense of being significant) and belonging in a different way. So in that context it solves some problems but not all of them, the most problematic being freedom, perhaps. And these days freedom seems to attract a lot of attention so maybe this could be the reason why some people ask themselves wether marriage is natural. Or I might be totally wrong but, anyway, this was the kind of thought that came to my mind after reading the above blog.

        • I think there are some fundamental needs that we all share but we’ve learned through culture specific strategies to meet those needs (I wrote a bit more about this here. Culture teaches us that our needs for belonging and intimacy can only be met within a couple, within marriage. At the same time, culture teaches us that our need for freedom cannot be met within marriage. If we uncouple our needs from specific strategies, we might be able to discover that there are lots of different strategies we can use to meet our needs. And what meets our needs most effectively might also change with circumstances, with time etc. So, rather than saying marriage “always meets” or “never meets” a certain need, we could just view it as one way of sometimes meeting some needs. I know that makes things more complicated but it’s probably also more realistic…

          • Cool point of view re is marriage natural? Check out Michel Foucault, ‘the history of sexuality’ 3rd volume ‘the care of the self’ – has some great insight on the natural arguments established pre christianity – of course that doesnt establish something as natural but I did appreciate the stoic perspective (reason is apart of our human nature and it’s rational to marry)

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