The Romanticization of Marriage

Whilst browsing the internet a few weeks ago, I stumbled across this graph which compared the wants of both men and women with regard to their prospective significant other in the early 1900s to that of 2008. Upon analyzing the graph I couldn’t help but noticed the major increase in the importance of mutual attraction – love. During this period I was presently doing research on marriage prior but upon coming across the graph it emphasized my need to get a better understanding of romantic love and its historical beginnings. After much reading, I decided to write this article which will talk about the history of marriage, romantic love and the relevant science on the subject.

Marriage in past generations has been described as the union between two individuals but with an extreme importance on the extended family. Young people growing up within a community or tribe would have gotten married through arrangements made by elders in the family/community. This was done because marriage was looked at as the union of two economically interdependent families rather than solely two individual people. This system can be traced back to ancient hunter-gather times where marriage brought various kin groups together to coalesce resources. Men would hunt and share food among the kin groups whilst women gathered foods served as the steady base for the families’ diet. As time went and resources became abundant, this dynamic evolved and various kin groups began breaking away from extended families and gaining prestige. Over time this allowed the creation of small elite groups with commoners below and marriage then began as a way to gain alliances among differing classes. Individuals had little to no say in who they would marry, instead parents, neighbors and states decided which unions would be most productive for both the families involved and society/tribe at large. At this point though extended family gradually lost its initial importance, romantic love was not looked at as important in comparison to economic stability and spiritual union. However, this idea changed dramatically during the late 19th century, also known as the Romantic Era.

The late 19th century saw the transformation of the West from an agricultural to industrial based society. This period saw the rise of media and visual arts: operas, plays, dramas, paintings and films. It was through these various avenues that the pursuit of romantic love, particularly in association with marriage began to take place. During this period there was resistance and push back by men and women from the Church and State. The movement revolted against convention and authority with more focus on the search for freedom in personal, political and artistic life. It saw the death of rationalism and a revival of nation’s history and the push for  the liberation of  the oppressed people of the earth. With these events taking place, marriage met a new focus where there was growing intimacy, emotionalism and sentimentalism of family life. Since the arts became a staple in western culture, what was shown and portrayed influenced society to a significant degree. In addition to this, the idea was able to be driven the way it did as a result of the West becoming an industrial based society where capitalism allowed people for the first time in history, the ability to enjoy a high level of freedom, progress, achievement, wealth and physical comfort. As a result, marriage now became viewed as a pursuit of individual happiness rather than an economic necessity.

From the period of the late 19th century to that of today, society has seen the upsurge in divorce rates, infidelity and decreased happiness in marriage. The reason for this is directly as a result of the change in the foundational perspective of marriage. To show why romantic love can not be used as the base for marriage, one has to look at the science behind romantic love.

Based on studies done by Dr. Helen Fisher, it was observed that people who were in love – when shown a picture of their loved-one, displayed heightened levels of activity in the Caudate Nucleus of the brain which is responsible for the mind’s engine for arousal, sensations of pleasure and the motivation to gain rewards. Further tests highlighted that romantic love is associated with increased levels of dopamine because the Ventral Tegmental Area (where the reward system of the brain is located) is also the center for dopamine-making cells. Low levels of Serotonin – which is responsible for maintaining mood balance – also plays a major part in the process as it produces the obsession of one’s mate, which is also central to romantic love. However, as Red Pill theology teaches, romance fades as attachment grows. Increasing levels of hormone oxytocin, which produces feeling and behaviors of attachment lowers Dopamine, resulting in decreased romantic passion. Further tests were done, this time by London scientists Bartels and Zaki. Their experiment on love showed that subjects were generally in a state of being ‘in love’ for an average 2.3 years. After this period, when the men and women were shown the pictures of their beloved, activity was shown in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) and Insular Cortex, while 7 month lovers showed none. The ACC is the region where emotions, memories and attention interact. This established that as relationships lengthen, the brain regions associated with emotions, memories and attention respond in news ways. In LTRs, feelings of love and attachment are still present but excitement and romantic ecstasy has disappeared due to the decline in dopamine. This waning of passion is often viewed by most individuals in the West as the loss of love and therefore warrants the end of a relationship and a dire for new romance.

These tests no doubt coincide with the current divorce statistics which show that most marriages fail during the first 5-10 years. It is no coincidence that with this cultural change in perspective that divorce rates have spiked in most Western countries. It also gives a factual reason as to why the levels of affairs within marriages have increased. Both men and women have become so  addicted to the feeling of being in love that once the passion dwindles (which will ultimately occur) in the confines of marriage, they look elsewhere for quick fixes. These affairs also usually last a year or two because the passion dwindle.

The idea of romantic love being used as the base for marriage should be abandoned, especially by men since there is more to lose. As Red Pill men it is of extreme importance to not be carried away by the gripping effect of infatuation when making possibly the most important decision of ones life. Marriage affects one financially, emotionally, physically and once children become involved, it enters a whole new stratosphere. As such, vet your potential spouse as best as you can, continue to lead and never let romance cloud your judgement. Characteristics such as dependable character, good health, chastity, housekeeping abilities and fertility should all come before the fleeting feeling of lust… choose wisely.

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