Geek Pride welcomes guest blogger Katrin Schumann, co-author of
Geek Pride welcomes guest blogger Katrin Schumann, co-author ofThe Secret Power of Middle Children: How Middleborns Can Harness Their Unexpected and Remarkable Abilities, which recently came out in paperback.
The way we view our most fundamental intimate relationships is undergoing a seismic shift. Politicians and voters are locked in contentious debates about gay marriage and who has the right to marry whom, and yet many people are skeptical about the institution of marriage itself. They're waiting longer and longer to marry, and heading for the divorce courts at the first sign of trouble.
So what are Americans looking for in a long-term relationship? What makes them work? Do we still value loyalty, if not the legal document that binds us to our promises?
Surprisingly, we can learn a lot about what makes us happy in our couplings from, of all people, middle children.
When asked in 2010 by the Pew Research Center, "What a makes marriage work?" people listed faithfulness above all other traits (including sharing chores or religious beliefs). This means that middleborns are actually better poised than other birth orders to achieve longevity in their marriages. Why is that? A study by birth-order researcher Dr. Catherine Salmon showed that middles are significantly less likely than others to cheat in a long-term romantic relationship—80 percent said they never strayed, compared to 65 percent of firstborns, and 53 percent of last-borns. If you want a good marriage, do like middles: Place a high value on dependability and commitment.
Although the rules are changing rapidly, it remains the case that a majority of Americans prefer being paired in lasting relationships than living alone. Looking at the qualities that middles embody—loyalty, generosity, openness, and flexibility, to name just a few—we can all learn a thing or two from them about how to turn the dream of of lasting commitment into a reality, regardless of our birth order.
Katrin Schumann is co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children (Penguin, 2011) and Mothers Need Time Outs, Too (McGraw Hill, 2008). A founder of Every Day Matters: Open Conversations on Modern Parenting, she has been researching and writing about family dynamics for the past ten years. In addition, she works as a freelance editor and book doctor. An instructor at Grub Street Writers in Boston, Schumann helped design and run their program for debut authors, "The Launch Lab." Through PEN New England, she runs writing classes in the Massachusetts prison system. She is a recipient of the Kogan Media Award for her work at National Public Radio. For more info: www.katrinschumann.com.