Inside the American Couple: New Thinking/New Challenges

Inside the American Couple: New Thinking/New Challenges

Inside the American Couple: New Thinking/New Challenges

Inside the American Couple: New Thinking/New Challenges


"By interrogating rather than accepting traditional platitudes about our need to be coupled, this vital and original collection both broadens our understanding of what constitutes a couple and deepens our appreciation for the human needs that coupling meets."--Michael S. Kimmel, author of "Manhood in America: A Cultural Reader

"Reading this book is like looking at a crystal-first one interesting facet of coupledom and then another comes into view. It's entrancing!"--Barrie Thorne, Director, Center for Working Families, University of California, Berkeley

"This wonderfully important book shows where the couple has been and where it is going, challenging us to simultaneously remake and redefine coupledom for ourselves. Reassuring and enlightening, "Inside the American Couple is essential reading for anyone concerned with joining in partnership and love with another human being."--Rebecca Walker, author of "Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self


One of the most fundamental urges of human existence is to form a pair. Something in us calls for another—friend, lover, companion, spouse. Or perhaps it is something not in us, some lack, some deficit, that hungers for completion. In the Symposium, Plato fancifully expressed this craving by having Aristophanes contend that the first humans were unseparated twins who, once they were split apart, pined away for the missing half.

Sociobiologists assume that the search for a mate is propelled by an animal instinct to copulate. Human attachment theorists locate the source of adult pairing in the child-mother bond. Anthropologists look to the central importance of kinship systems in human cultures as an explanation for the universality of marriage. Political scientists understand marriage as an institutional means of assuring societal stability. Existentialists see the desire to merge with another as a way of attenuating a basic sense of isolation. Jews and Christians traditionally believe that marriage is ordained by God. Whether primacy is accorded to sexual, psychological, anthropological, political, existential, or religious factors, there is broad agreement that coupledom provides a viable answer to a basic human longing.

Here we are at the dawn of a new millennium still cherishing the belief that being half of a couple represents some central part of being human. Individuals, despite gender and sexual orientation, continue to search for soul mates, to move in together, to vow to love each other . . .

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