The New Monogamy: Forward to the Past: An Author and Anthropologist Looks at the Future of Love

By Fisher, Helen | The Futurist, November-December 2010 | Go to article overview

The New Monogamy: Forward to the Past: An Author and Anthropologist Looks at the Future of Love


Fisher, Helen, The Futurist


Marriage has changed more in the past 100 years than it has in the past 10,000, and it could change more in the next 20 years than in the last 100. We are rapidly shedding traditions that emerged with the Agricultural Revolution and returning to patterns of sex, romance, and attachment that evolved on the grasslands of Africa millions of years ago.

Let's look at virginity at marriage, arranged marriages, the concept that men should be the sole family breadwinners, the credo that a woman's place is in the home, the double standard for adultery, and the concepts of "honor thy husband" and "til death do us part." These beliefs are vanishing. Instead, children are expressing their sexuality. "Hooking up" (the new term for a one-night stand) is becoming commonplace, along with living together, bearing children out of wedlock, women-headed households, interracial marriages, homosexual weddings, commuter marriages between individuals who live apart, childless marriages, betrothals between older women and younger men, and small families.

Our concept of infidelity is changing. Some married couples agree to have brief sexual encounters when they travel separately; others sustain long-term adulterous relationships with the approval of a spouse. Even our concept of divorce is shifting. Divorce used to be considered a sign of failure; today it is often deemed the first step toward true happiness.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

These trends aren't new. Anthropologists have many clues to life among our forebears; the dead do speak. A million years ago, children were most likely experimenting with sex and love by age six. Teens lived together, in relationships known as "trial marriages." Men and women chose their partners for themselves. Many were unfaithful--a propensity common in all 42 extant cultures I have examined. When our forebears found themselves in an unhappy partnership, these ancients walked out. A million years ago, anthropologists suspect, most men and women had two or three long-term partners across their lifetimes. All these primordial habits are returning.

But the most profound trend forward to the past is the rise of what sociologists call the companionate, symmetrical, or peer marriage: marriage between equals. Women in much of the world are regaining the economic power they enjoyed for millennia. Ancestral women left camp almost daily to gather fruits, nuts, and vegetables, returning with 60% to 80% of the evening meal. In the hunting and gathering societies of our past, women worked outside the home; the double-income family was the rule, and women were just as economically, sexually, and socially powerful as men. Today, we are returning to this lifeway, leaving in the "dustbin of history" the traditional, male-headed, patriarchal family--the bastion of agrarian society.

This massive change will challenge many of our social traditions, institutions, and policies in the next 20 years. Perhaps we will see wedding licenses with an expiration date. Companies may have to reconsider how they distribute pension benefits. Words like marriage, family, adultery, and divorce are likely to take on a variety of meanings. We may invent some new kinship terms. Who pays for dinner will shift. Matriliny may become common as more children trace their descent through their mother. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The New Monogamy: Forward to the Past: An Author and Anthropologist Looks at the Future of Love
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.