I came across an article in the NY Times entitled The All-or-Nothing Marriage written by Eli J Finkel and what I found interesting was he talked a lot about what he terms as “Compassionate Marriages” which are American marriages centered around intimate needs such as to love, to be loved and to experience a fulfilling sex life. He explains that this was during the era of the 1850’s and ended in the 1960’s. He states, this era overlapped with the shift from rural to urban life. Men increasingly engaged in wage labor outside of the home, which amplified the extent to which the two sexes occupied distinct social spheres. As the nation became wealthier and its social institutions became stronger, Americans had the luxury of looking to marriage primarily for love and companionship.
On the flip side of that coin are the “Self-Expressive Marriages” which is what Finkel claims most of today’s marriages are based on. According to Finkel, Americans now look to marriage increasingly for self-discovery, self-esteem and personal growth. Fueled by the counter cultural currents of the 1960s, they have come to view marriage less as an essential institution and more as an elective means of achieving personal fulfillment.
Of course the underlying root of this shift in marriage culture was said to be due to the rise of the autonomy of women. We are able to choose our paths now, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned when it comes to dating it’s that while yes, women CAN just walk up to a guy and get his number and date him, it is ultimately he who decides if you’re worth the commitment. You can choose a guy and he may be your “ONE,” but unless he decides your his “ONE,” the entire thing is null and void.
“For me it was totally different. I prayed and was like God I’m tired of trial and error (even though it takes trial and error to better your understanding on certain aspects of a relationship) but I told God give me a sign. Surely as I kept my promise, so did He and when He delivered her, I just knew it based on what I saw from afar, it was something like no other. So its like something inside just let’s you know she’s “The One”. Not everyone is the one so not everyone will get “the sign.” ~31
“My girlfriend recognizes the strengths in me that i can’t recognize myself..she taught me how to love and be more considerate just by treating me that way..I know it takes some people a good amount of time to find out whether they found the right one or not and that’s fine, but I pretty much knew as soon as I met her” ~25
“A woman is worth the commitment if she shares the same values as you, and if you both are along the same path to be better mentally, etc. Most importantly, you both make each other better in all areas of life. In my situation, I spent 2 years single and during that time I became crystal clear with what I wanted in a woman and where her head needed to be and to no surprise the moment I met my current gf and we had a conversation, i just knew it!” ~26
“I’m looking for someone who helps make me better and improve my life.” ~23
“A person worth a commitment is a woman who can make you feel the way the sun does on warm spring mornings. That feeling of peace, a sense of serenity. It is a person who understands how to reciprocate. That Love is equal and should be given only to them, that wish to give it without request. A person that is the right fit. Who can keep her cool, control her emotions and doesn’t push your buttons. There is something about having a woman you can count on that makes you feel invincible. There is no feeling like it.” ~30
“I’m thinking you never really know a woman is the one until she’s the one. But you do know that she has the potential of being the one because you feel that from her more than anyone else. But if that woman is willing to work for it then she’ll get what she works for.” ~25
I think that in light of Finkel’s argument on “Compassionate vs. Self-Expressive” marriage, we can see that when it comes to men deciding whether their partner is the one is based on a combination of the two ideals. It’s not one or the other. It’s a feeling, an un-explainable emotion and the need to be loved. It’s the male intuition which are all the components of a compassionate marriage, but at the same time, he’s looking for that person that’s going to drive him to be better and challenge him. He’s looking for that trophy.
***The answers are comprised completely by the male participants in the HIMinisms group. If you would like to suggest a question/topic/idea please send them here.