Marriage and the Family Experience Essay


Our work aims to discuss the relationship between effective communication, the field of eligibles and the wheel theory of love.

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Many factors have a bearing upon the establishment of a strong interpersonal relationship, and capacity for effective communication is among them.  As Horton (1995) argues:

Most communication is informational, and it often transmits data from which effective messages are built. With effective communication, there is not only a message and intended receiver, but also an intended result. Effective communication is bidirectional by definition because the message sender must verify that the intended result occurred. (p. 3)

Effective communication about such matters as sex must be approached from many sides, and requires repeated conversations. A couple will ordinarily need to talk through issues again and again, before they arrive at a consensus which is really secure, and fully understood by both. According to many subjects, effective communication has several benefits when it occurs. It may help them cope with disturbing feelings, as in the following excerpt, or to arrive at decisions which will stand, as in the second excerpt. The investment of time would provide an opportunity for the development of effective communication. This in turn could result in the clarification of purposes and motives.

Besides effective communication, Semens and Krnatz (1970) insist on importance of simultaneous involvement of a couple in a relationship:

When the involvement of a couple in a relationship is about equal, the two tend to give and expect about the same things from each other. Otherwise the more deeply involved person is likely to make heavier demands on the partner than he is ready to accept; the less involved person may wittingly or unwittingly exploit the one more deeply involved. (p.360)

Contrary to them Ira Reiss has developed a “wheel theory of love” which emphasizes from a different approach the importance of simultaneous involvement. Reiss specificates four steps in the development of love: rapport (feeling at ease with each other), self-revelation (disclosing personal details about each other’s lives), mutual dependency (developing a reliance on one another and establishing interdependence) and personality need fulfillment (satisfying each other’s emotional needs) (Reiss, 75). According to his theory, the initial stage of mate selection implicates establishment of feelings of rapport between potential partners. Reiss claimed humans can feel rapport for those who resemble us on key social and cultural variables. Perception of similarities facilitates this process: the wheel will turn indefinitely long-lasting relationship.  Although many factors affect mate choice, persons in search of a mate do not necessarily take these factors into consideration. Personality traits are intrinsically difficult to measure. Most people do select a mate from within a “field of eligibles” that is defined by certain social elements, but taken together these elements may not adequately account for the choice of a particular mate.

Even though the personal choices of the partners and their assessment of their love for one another do seem to affect the final choice of spouse, the choice is made — in the vast number of cases — from within a “field of eligibles” that have been “selected” by social factors beyond the awareness of the lovers. And so even though we do not place much weight upon arranged marriages, everyone does not have an equal chance of marrying everyone else in our society. The probabilities are that the spouse will be selected from among those people who live relatively close to the seeker; who are from the same socio-economic class, religion, and race; and who most likely will complement the seeker”s personality.

But in the United States the reason two people marry is that they are in love.

Reference List

Horton, J.L. (1995). Integrating Corporate Communications: The Cost-Effective Use of Message and Medium. Westport: Quorum Books.

Semmens, J. K. & Krantz K. E. (1970).  The Adolescent Experience: A Counseling Guide to Social and Sexual Behavior. New York: Macmillan.

Reiss, I. L. (1960). Premarital Sex Standards in America. Glencoe: Free Press.


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