hlch best describes your relationship style? Select one of the following:
(2) Serially monogamous
(3) Ambiguously monogamous
(4) Mildly polygynous
Relax. If you checked anything, you're right. Evolutionary psychologists have never been able to find the right language to describe our peculiar approach to mating We practice mostly monogamy, but Is that natural or are we boxed in by social
pair up. Anthropological surveys of traditional cultures conducted in the past century found that more than 80 percent allowed polygyny. i.e.. a man could take more than one wife. (Polyandrous societies. In which a woman can take more than one husband, are rare.) The evidence is clear that we have evolved as "mildly polygynous creatures.' argue evolutionary psychologist Oavid Barash and his wife, psychiatrist Judith Upton, in The Myth of Monogamy. However, even when polygyny Is okay, few men partake. This Is almost always out of necessity rather than by choice. Barash says—either there aren't enough surplus women or a man lacks the funds and/or skill to negotiate and sustain the arrangement. Because we humans remain with each part-
ler for as long as we can after the romantic high wears off. many scientists lave adopted the phrase serial monogamy. Helen Fisher, the author of Why We Love, likes to recall a story about Margaret Mead When asked why her carriages had all failed, the famed anthropologist responded. "I beg your >ardon I had three marriages, and none of them was a failure *
Although U.S. divorce data support the notion of a seven-year Itch. Fisher wlieves couples feel an instinctual urge to split after four years. That's about the time, she argues, that a child born in a hunter-gatherer society is setf-lufflcient enough to join a communal play group and be raised by other mem-sers of the band. The father and mother can then search for new mates—he 'or someone younger, she for someone older and richer—and bear children with a variety of genetic structures, increasing the odds that more of them will survive. The fact that most men don't flee Is" a remarkable triumph of the female Drain and will." writes geneticist Anne Moir in Brain Sex. "In sexual and evolutionary terms, there is nothing in marriage for men." So why do we stay? One argument is that we recognize widespread female promiscuity would make It larder to know if a child is ours. We also stick around because, unlike other primates, humans are bom with underdeveloped brains so the skull can squeeze through the female pelvis, leaving our offspring so helpless they require two parents to survive. By the time a child can walk and talk, a few years later, and Daddy is ready to bolt. Mama may well be pregnant again. Where does the time go? Kids continue to weigh on a marriage as long as they are around: one study bf S00 families found the lowest point of satisfaction arrives at Stage V. when the children become teenagers. However. In the next three stages—VI VII and VIII. after the kids leave home—the ratings rise again. Hang in there.