Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Stephanie Coontz's Op-Ed "Too Close for Comfort"

I really liked Stephanie Coontz's NYT Op-Ed today, responding to the headlines a few weeks ago about the "death" of marriage.

Coontz brings up the recent sociological study by Duke University and University of Arizona scholars that cites the decline in Americans' close relationships outside the family. She argues that in part because of the economy, which has both increased the number of hours people work and the number of partnerships where both people work full-time means that social time outside of work has largely been reduced. In other words, after you and your fiance put in 50 hours a week, if he heads for a "guys night out" instead of home to you on his first free night, there's going to be some trouble.

Coontz says:
Paradoxically, we can strengthen our marriages the most by not expecting them to be our sole refuge from the pressures of the modern work force. Instead we need to restructure both work and social life so we can reach out and build ties with others, including people who are single or divorced.

As we say in the book, nurture your friendships. We spend our single days making our girlfriends our significant others (a big part of what Sex and the City was really about), but many women dump their friends as soon as they meet "The One"(gag) or slip a ring on their fingers. What Coontz is saying is that loading that kind of expectation into marriage--and how it should fulfill you in terms of emotional intimacy and communication--especially at the expense of your other close relationships, can often be exactly what causes marriages to fail.

Call your best girlfriend right now and make plans with her. No husbands, no double-dates, no fiances.


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