People who tie the knot spend less time than singles calling, writing and visiting friends, neighbors and extended family, according to Naomi Gerstel of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Natalia Sarkisian of Boston College. The International Herald Tribune reports on a paper the two sociologists have written, "Marriage: the Good, the Bad, and the Greedy", which found that 80% of never-married individuals said they'd called or written to their parents in the last month, compared with just 60 percent of married people. (The exceptions? African-Americans and Hispanics.) The writers note that in the mid-20th century, husbands and wives were expected to fulfill the culturally defined roles as breadwinners and homemakers, what sociologists call the "institutional marriage." But today, a recent Gallup poll finds that 94% of young, unmarried women and men say their primary goal in marriage is finding a soulmate. But is it all about finding that person and then sealing yourselves away from the world?

Take honeymoons:

The now nearly ubiquitous private adventures for newlyweds were nearly unheard of until the late 19th century. And even then, [a sociologist from the Council on Contemporary Families] notes, the happy couples often took along relatives and friends for company.

But these days, is getting hitched all about isolation? "Finding a soul mate means turning inward - pushing aside other relationships," write Gerstel and Sarkisian. Wonder where they stand on the wedding registry!

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The Greedy Marriage [IHT]