Why Men and Women Get Married

Christine Whelan | Posted on 06/01/10

Why get married at all? asks Jenna Goudreau on Forbes.com last week.

She quotes me

Researchers and sociology professors Christine B. Whelan at the University of Pittsburgh and Christie F. Boxer at the University of Iowa set out to find out what men and women look for in a spouse and uncovered this very trend. From a list of attractive traits, women ranked a man's desire for home and children at No. 4. In past decades they had ranked it much lower. In 1977, for example, it was No. 10.

Men's standards, too, have changed in what they find attractive in a potential wife. Until the 1960s men ranked a woman's education and intelligence at No. 11 on their lists of attractive qualities. Now men prioritize a woman's intelligence over her good looks, ranking it at No. 4 as compared to No. 8.

And best of all, the piece takes our mate-preference rankings research and turns it into an interaction slide show of what men want... and what women want in a mate. 

I go on to say:

Sociologist Whelan believes that both sexes tie the knot due to a combination of love and social pressure, and that pressure comes a bit later for men. The typical ready-to-wed man, she says, has been out of college for a few years, maybe just got a promotion or raise, and has experienced a summer of attending several of his friends' weddings.

Once friends start walking down the aisle, "it's as if a light-bulb goes off in their heads," says Whelan. Suddenly men realize they want to settle down, and they start seeing the women they date through an is-she-wife-material lens.

A related question might be: Is that light-bulb going off too late? Are we delaying marriage for too long?

In the upcoming issue of U.S. Catholic Dr. John Van Epp, PhD, President of LoveThinks, LLC and author of How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk says we are -- and that we need social change to encourage earlier unions.

While he raises a lot of good points, I don't see the large-scale social problem that he fears -- and on BustedHalo.com I offer a response, posted today. 

Your thoughts?

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