The Washington Post: The marriage penalty [Via Don Jim]
Marriage, in fact, used to be an institution that sought to extend community ties. From princes and princesses in Europe who married each other to matches arranged between the less well-off, marriage was largely about broadening one's network of allies, friends and benefactors.And in the Telegraph: Accept the misery for happiness in marriage [Via Coray]
Not anymore. Modern marriage, sociologists Naomi Gerstel and Natalia Sarkisian have shown, is really about two people setting themselves apart -- not just from the larger community, but from other relatives, including parents and siblings. The sociologists are not talking just about the starry-eyed couples of June, who have eyes and attention only for each other, but also married couples generally.
Contrary to the received wisdom of Republicans and Democrats and virtually every authority in the country who views marriage as the linchpin of social and community ties, Gerstel and Sarkisian have found that marriage actually tends to reduce community ties.
"Our culture perpetuates the myth that, with enough effort, we can achieve a state without suffering," says the report in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.
"This is highlighted by our popular childhood fairytales and modern love stories. In the US, the value placed on 'can-do' spirit and triumph over adversity creates an environment where suffering can be viewed as a symptom of personal failure."
Psychologists have worsened the problem by using the term "mental health" to signify an ideal psychological state where people are free from suffering, according to Dr Diane Gehart and Dr Eric McCollum, family therapy professors in America.
They believe that a Buddhist meditation technique could provide a new way of coping with family suffering. "Mindfulness", where a person tries to focus on their thoughts and actions in the present moment, is already used by psychiatrists to cope with anxiety.