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Stephanie Coontz’s article “The Radical Idea of Marrying for Love” expresses her views and opinion on expectations on marriage. She argues that these expectations are unrealistic based on differences in societies and cultures around the world in different instances of time. Considering the example of George Bernard Shaw’s theory, he believes that marriage is an institution that unites and brings two people together under the influence of the most insane, the most violent, the most delusive, and most transient of passions (Coontz 378). In the world history, marriage has been considered to be a survival tool. According to her, emotional love plays a small part in marriage, which is discouraged sometimes. In today’s marriage world, it is still considered not to be a necessity.
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Coontz stated that historic society did not condone a newly married couple being in love. The real picture was expected to come out after the couple had been married long enough and has grown to love each other over time. In such instances the society still held that there still are appropriate and inappropriate behaviors expected appropriate for a married couple. In some societies, it was conditioned that a spouse was not expected to love the other partner more than they love their parent’s family, or God. In China, groom’s parent could force their son to separate with his wife in instances whereby, her views failed to coincide with theirs, regardless of how much he loved her.
A happy marriage is not defined in terms of emotional fulfillment although emotional happiness is the ultimate goal, throughout the world. Recently the emotional and sexual needs in the marriage have been emphasized. According to her, most history has in conceived that people choose their mates on the basis of a thing as fragile as irrational as love (Coontz 380). On the other hand, the argument is, ‘if you don’t marry for love, what is the point of marrying anyway?’ However, the idea of emotional love seems exotic and exceptional when compared against a historical world view.
Several things have to be factored out before making a decision of actually getting married. She further questioned whether love is the most important factor. Marrying for other reasons is considered a marriage set for doom and unstable relationship. For instance marrying someone for a financial support means that you only stick to this partner for as long as he or she can support you financially, if the supporting partner fails to meet financial obligations, in case if fired, the marriage fails.
In her article, she detailed that marriage history has seen marriage transformations from a survival necessity of the society to becoming an instrument for personal fulfillment and happiness. Through the history, marriage has been considered to be a survival tool in which romantic love has played a little if none in marriages success. In some cultures, to some extent, monogamy and romantic love are not considered to be a necessary aspect of marriage. In these scenarios, sexual and emotional satisfactions are considered mutual, automatic and a norm that is expected.
Media has painted the western culture and the belief of happily ever after, which is believed that married couples should forever be the best friends, in sharing secrets, and intimacy. The culture also preaches that partners in the marriage should express affection openly and be candid in discussing their problems. It further recommends that they should be sexually faithful to one another.
Throughout the history, survival of human race and the society in particular has been focused to the family as the basic unit, and it has been the main goal in the entire civilization. Issues of polygamy and co-parenting have been evident when chances of family survival were favored by an additional parent. However political and economic factors and motives have outweighed this setup by far. In some instances, a concubine or a courtesan played the role of sexual and emotional fulfillment while the spouse insured the financial and social success of the family.