Are We Asking Too Much of Our Marriages?
“We’re asking a lot of our marriages today, but few of us are asking for life itself,” psychologist Eli Finkel notes in his new book, The All-or-Nothing Marriage. Over time, he argues, we have come to expect marriage to fulfill needs that rank higher in Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy. Americans no longer need to get married to avoid poverty, homelessness, or starvation. Instead, we want our partners not only to love and cherish us, but also to accompany us on our journey toward self-actualization—the summit of Mount Maslow, in Finkel’s term. His basic thesis is that “the pursuit of self-expression through marriage simultaneously makes achieving marital success harder and the value of doing so greater. Consequently, the average marriage has been getting worse over time, even as the best marriages have been getting better.”