In a just-published article, Eli Finkel and his co-authors described a wide-ranging and intriguing model of the “suffocation of marriage.” The model deserves a lot of attention and I’ll probably write about it again. For now, I just want to point out one particular sentence that I really did not like.
Part I: Critique this Quote
The authors are discussing the ways in which contemporary married couples expect each other to fulfill a great deal of their higher-order needs (in Maslow’s sense of needs). They think that can be taxing and they suggest a series of ways in which married couples can “recalibrate the balance between what they are asking from their marriage and what they are investing in it” (p. 27). Here’s one of their suggestions:
“If a man notices that his wife becomes overwhelmed when he comes to her to deal with feelings of sadness or vulnerability, he may choose to revive his relationship with his old college roommate, who was always an excellent shoulder to cry on, and call him up when needing comfort” (p. 30).
I was invited to write one of the commentaries on the article, and I called it “A singles studies perspective on mount marriage.” Think about the quote I highlighted above, and if you want to, see if you can generate a critique of it.
At the end of this post (Part III), I’ll share that part of my article, where I offer my brief critique. In between, I’m including links to some of my previous writings about friendship, because of their relevance to the broader topic of friendship, and also to put some space between the quote you may want to critique and my own critique of it. (In other words, no peeking!)
Part II: Some Previous Writings on Friendship
Importance of friendship
Do single people get ditched when their friends marry?
Breaking up with friends
How friendship is erased and distorted
Other friendship themes
Part III: My Critique of that Quote (from p. 66)
What Are Friends For?
A Singles Studies perspective would bring to the field of interpersonal relationships a bigger, broader view of the people and relationships important to us in our lives. No longer would conjugal couples stand at the center of our relationship universes, with other adult relationship partners acting as the bit players orbiting around them. Friends, for example, would be valued in and of themselves.
In contrast, here is an example of the role of friends in the “Suffocation of Marriage” model: “If a man notices that his wife becomes overwhelmed when he comes to her to deal with feelings of sadness or vulnerability, he may choose to revive his relationship with his old college roommate, who was always an excellent shoulder to cry on, and call him up when needing comfort.” In this marriage-centered view of the world, friends are people you use to give your spouse a break, and who presumably can go back to being ignored once your marriage is back on track.