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June 1965

Family Rules: Marital Quid pro Quo

Author Affiliations

Director, Mental Research Institute.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1965;12(6):589-594. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1965.01720360061010

BECAUSE they are so obviously and invariably composed of only one man and one woman each, marriages in our society are usually described in terms of sexual differences, which are of course considered innate or at least fixed characteristics of the individuals involved. All manner of behaviors quite removed from primary sexual differences can be brought into the framework of male-female differences, which framework then becomes an explanatory model of marriage. This view pervades our popular mythology of sexual stereotypes, it influences marriage manuals and similar advisory accouterments, and it certainly guides our scientific study of the marital relationship, no matter how inconsistent or unspecific this theory proves to be. The rich variety of forms which anthropologists have shown us "masculinity" and "femininity" take in marriage across the world should indicate something is amiss with the assumption that absolute, specific sexual differ

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