Marriage and Relationships

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Here's a conundrum for you: a smaller portion of American households include married couples than ever before — a minority now, says the Census Bureau, just 47 percent. But among Americans who are married, the spouse is being leaned on now — more than ever before — to be everything: lover, confidant, life partner, best friend.

Married Americans report they have fewer close friends and confidants outside their marriage. Many have only their wife or husband to really talk to — openly, honestly, intimately.

Marriage experts say it's too much to ask of marriage, and may be why some marriages are faltering.

This hour On Point: when the spouse is supposed to be everything, are we asking too much of marriage?


Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College and author of "Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage"

Lynn Smith-Lovin, professor of sociology at Duke University and co-author of "Social Isolation in America: Change in Core Discussion Networks Over Two Decades"

Joshua Coleman, clinical psychologist and author of "The Marriage Makeover: Finding Happiness in Imperfect Harmony."

This program aired on November 21, 2006.


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