Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Shocking New Study Says, "Don't Marry your Soul Mate!"

Don't marry your soul mate?

W. Brad Wilcox, editor of "The State of Our Unions" (a new study released by the National Marriage Project), was quoted by the Huffington Post as saying that marrying your soul mate may be harmful to maintaining a stable marriage. He added the disclaimer,"The soul mate model is easier when economics are all taken care of." Surprisingly, Wilcox added that the institutional (or patriarchal) model "is more likely to sustain marriage." 

The soul mate model discussed in this study is more commonly known as the companionate model of marriage. This model emphasizes the personal fulfillment of two co-equal partners and lasts only as long as both are romantically fulfilled. It first appeared on the American scene during the Suffragette Era of women's rights in the 1910s-20s and eclipsed the institutional (or patriarchal) model of marriage by the 1950s.

The patriarchal or "institutional" marriage model mentioned in the study featured separate rigid roles for each partner which were performed regardless of romantic feelings for one another to achieve economic success and perpetuation of the family unit through procreation. It was designed to last through thick and thin. "The State of Our Unions"  editor created a national firestorm when he observed that with the demise of the institutional (or patriarchal)  model, marriage became so unstable under the soul mate (or companionate) model that in the 2010s the societal mores of marriage before cohabitation and marrying before having children are being abandoned by middle class Americans. According to these findings, the very building block upon which American society is built is in danger of collapse.

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"The State of Our Unions" has rocked the world of relationships. The fact that a prestigious study has bucked political correctness and admitted that the patriarchal system of our ancestors actually had some advantages is shocking indeed, But as Kay S. Hymowitz  of the Manhattan Insititute observed, it is not possible  nor desirable to return to the enslaving patriarchal model. We advocate a return to honest courtship under the enlightened companionate model as the only solution to the seemingly intractable problem of the decline and fall of marriage in America.

 

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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