Love, Marriage, and the Family
A mother cradling her child, bent over in a posture of loving solicitude: If there is another image that will immediately be recognized by human beings of any age or culture and arouse in them comparable feelings of identification, we cannot think what it could be.
-- Brigitte and Peter Berger
The family is the basic unit of any society; it produces its new members and socializes them in its ways. Marriage is a legal contract conferring society's blessing on the reproductive couple and signifying the couple's pledge of fidelity to one another. Although there have been and are a myriad of marriage forms and motivations for marriage in different cultures and in different times, when not constrained by economic, political, or social considerations, the primeval motivation is love between man and woman. We have been fashioned by natural selection to pair-bond, and the epoxy of that bond is love.
There is something of a crisis in the nuclear family that concerns those who value it, but it is too rooted in human nature not to remain the predominant family form in the Western world and in much of the rest of the world also. Adjustments have been made to the nuclear family over the years, and others will be made according to environmental contingencies. Mating and parental patterns in all animal species have always been dependent on the interrelationships between organisms and their environments, with the general pattern being set by the ecology existing in their environments of evolutionary adaptation ( Rees & Harvey, 1991).
No naïve claims are made that there are genes coding for a particular form of family system. Family forms and marriage patterns are cultural, with the dominant forms and patterns presumably offering the "best fits" with a par-