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?Guests:

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 April 24, 2008.


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