We are getting to that age where many of our friends are getting married. It is common to log onto Facebook, Twitter or any social media outlet and come across wedding photos, updated relationship statuses and baby shower pictures. I always find myself asking, “We are still so young. Are these people ready for this commitment?”
It also gets me thinking about marriage, and one question in particular: Are humans biologically monogamous? Is marriage unnatural? Are we as a species supposed to be committed to one partner for the rest of our lives?
I think humans are not naturally monogamous. Marriage has an interesting history, and many factors have influenced us into believing marriage is a naturally occurring aspect in human lifestyle.
So, why do humans feel the need to get married? Many people do not realize this, but marrying someone solely based on mutual affection is a relatively new concept. “Love Marriage,” or marriage as we know it today in the Western World, began to emerge in the 18th century. Most marriages before this time were for economic or social reasons. For example, fathers would force their daughters to marry into royalty in order to promote a higher social status for their family. These two would later conceive, which is an argument evolutionary psychologists have when describing why humans pair together for long periods of time.
Social and evolutionary psychologist Daniel Kruger of University of Michigan’s School of Public Health describes that humans have a stronger paternal bond than most primates. He later says in an article posted by livescience.com that, “We’re (humans) special in this regard, but at the same time like most mammals, we are a polygamous species.” In fact, according to the same article mentioned above only 3 to 5 percent of mammals on earth display monogamist tendencies.
We live in a culture where it is almost taboo to refrain from marriage. Refraining from marriage is little more acceptable than it was in the past, but marriage is still extremely common. These moral principles about monogamy have been drilled into us ever since we were little kids. We are to never cheat on our significant others, and we have been told that we are destined to find the one person in which we are going to spend the rest of our lives with. Moral codes have programmed us into believing we are a monogamous species — when in reality — we are biologically tuned just like most other mammals to “spread our genes.”
The current divorce rate in America also suggests that marriage could be unnatural.
According to divorcerate.org, 50 percent of all first-time marriages will end in divorce, and 66 percent of all divorced couples are childless. In addition, when someone gets married multiple times, percentages skyrocket. Second marriages have a 60 percent divorce rate; while third marriages have an astounding 73 percent chance of ending in divorce.
I am not advocating infidelity or anything of that nature. Cheating on your partner and arguing that it is in your blood to do so will not get you out of the woods, but statistics show that being unfaithful might just signify the natural human urge to be sexually diverse. Like sociology professor Pepper Schwartz of the University of Washington in Seattle said, “Monogamy is invented for order and investment — but not necessarily because it’s natural.”
Chris Chipman is a junior english major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.