Anthropology, Department of



Emily Sorrell

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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 20 (2005). Copyright © Emily Sorrell; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


When identifying the central components that constitute general social structures, one cannot overlook the integral role that marriage, in its many manifestations, plays in the make-up of human societies. Marriage, or the ultimate extension of pair bonding, developed largely as a cultural adaptation to the reproduction of slowly developing human offspring and hence can be viewed as a method of maximizing reproductive fitness. If this assumption is correct, then one may presume that it would be beneficial to humans and their reproductive success to engage in marriages of relative stability. Hence, it would be reasonable to assume that there must be methods of stabilizing marriages in all societies. This paper will examine the relationship that exists between romantic love and marriage, as well as the functional role that love may play as a stabilizing agent in certain matrimonial unions.

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