Marriage and Choices




This week, it’s something micro. This is a hypothetical relational map about what goes in when couples are deciding whether or not to get together.



We take for granted that lifelong-monogamous relationship with one partner has been the not-so norm among human institutions. I say, “not-so” norm because it’s an ideal thats routinely broken – no one can point specifically to an age where lifelong monogamous relationships happened without occasions of adultery (by either gender).

The lifelong-monogamy I imagine made sense economically, with divisions of labour splitting along gender lines. Individualism, gender equality movements have made marriage less compelling (for either gender, and more so for females). The reaction so far in developed societies is to let-it-be; accept serial monogamy (people divorcing and remarrying), slowly sorting out child-custody issues (allow dads some rights in raising the kids), lowering the barriers to single-parenthood…

I realise that many of these things are legal developments too. Should laws conform to the attitudes and conventions of the current age, or should they reflect some notion of rights? The former could be used to justify racial segregation in the US; the latter might be too unrealistic for acceptance by ALL sectors in society. What then, what next?

The last point is methodological: I admit that a lot of the variables or qualities or concepts usually assume the rational person, in making decisions using some notion of cost/benefit analysis, and reduce the weight of other factors. What I’ve tried to do usually, is to factor in social expectations as well – and this is one way to incorporate the non-rational, or non-economic rational. I still think this encompasses the way we make choices, that we do consider a lot of the variables together, but the framing of these variables matter. I think what a systems-based representation does is to clarify at which point of decision-making does the framing matter. They could come at the initial process of scanning; at the middle part as they get processed; or at the end as they consider preliminary impact of the choices guided by the framing. Of course they could also happen at every/any stage of the process too. There’s no good way, and it’s up to the individual analyst to choose where does framing matter the most, or if it’s in the background of things.


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