Ilene Lopez

Lauren Opet

Sara Showalter



What Men and Women Want in Marriage

Chapter 8

By: John Marshall Townsend


I.                     Evolution of Marriage

A)     Fundamental basis of marriage: contract between 2 family lines that has assigned rights and duties concerning property and children.

B) Sexual division of labor

1.        Men and women performed different tasks making them economically dependent on each other.

C)      Pre-industrial Western Europe

1.        Marriages strictly economic affairs

2.        Primary purpose of traditional family: to produce the next generation and transmit to it property, position, and knowledge.

3.        No affection and strict marital roles

4.        Sexual freedom restricted

D)      Fear of Pregnancy

1.        Illegitimate children a public shame and private financial burden.

2.        Abortions dangerous, illegal, or unavailable

E)       Two Sexual Revolutions

1.        Individuals feelings toward each other more important in partner choice.

2.        Industrial Revolution

a.        Parental supervision more difficult

b.       People more mobile and sought out privacy

c.        1750-1850: drastic increase in premarital pregnancy

d.       Divorce not respectable

3.        Technological development

a.        1850-1940: greater availability of effective contraceptives reduced premarital pregnancy rates.

b.       1960s: the pill was introduced increase in premarital intercourse = increase in premarital pregnancy.

c.        1970s and 1980s: increase in teenage pregnancies

F)       Sexual division of labor obviated

1.        Most, if not all, jobs performed equally well by women or men.

2.        Marriage not necessary for sex or economic survival.

G)      Basis of marriage shifted

1.        Romantic love

2.        Good marriage: exciting sex, companionship, economic security, and doesn’t hinder personal growth.

II. Satisfaction in Marriage

A)     Greater freedom in marriage

1.        Express what wants in marriage and leave if standards not met.

2.        Sex differences in marital goals more visible

a.        Both sexes need friendship, companionship, and love.

b.       Men and women differ in priorities, in the ways they love, and in causes of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

III. Sexual Gratification

A)     More central goal for men than women

1.        Avg. female marries to establish home, long-term affectionate relationship with single spouse, and have children whose welfare’s most important.

2.        Avg. male wouldn’t marry unless had sex regularly with wives.

B)      Sexual peak

1.        Women- 30’s, men-18

2.        Kinsey: peaks reflect changes within each sexes lifetime.

3.        Sexual interest and activity correlate with testosterone levels in both men and women.

C)      Jon

1.Satisfaction with marriage affected by the frequency of intercourse, wife’s lesser interest in intercourse, her physical attractiveness.

a.        She never initiates sex

b.       Sex is routine for both parties

IV. Physical Attractiveness

A)     Importance

1.        Value men place on physical attractiveness important part of male sexuality and affects satisfaction with partners.

2.        Gay men desire physical beauty in partner

3.        Lesbian couples don’t let physical beauty affect their happiness with each other.

V. Extramarital Affairs

A)     Increased status and sexual opportunities affect marriage

1.        Unleash desires for sex with variety of young, physically attractive partners.

B)      Ben

1.        Wife unhappy and sex life dropped

2.        Fell in love with women at work

a.        Felt power

b.       Sexual opportunities

c.        Believed in his uniqueness

3.        Felt guilty

4.        More interested in having sex with other women than wife

5.        Women use sexual favors in competition for higher-status men

Section II


I.                    Extramarital affairs

A.     Jake

1.      Stimulus for infidelity

a.       Novelty

b.      Partners' physical attractiveness

c.       Sexual performance

2.      Declining interest in affair because novelty is wearing off

B.     Women's adultery more likely to lead to breakup of marriage

1.      Unfaithful women dissatisfied with their marriage, seeking alternatives

a.       Women associate sex with emotional involvement

b.       More likely to fall in love with extramarital partners

2.      Unfaithful men desire sex with different partners

a.       Men usually try to avoid disrupting marriage

3.      Men less likely to tolerate partners' infidelity

a.       More likely to act in ways that precipitate breakups

C.     Jon

1.      Wanted to throw wife out, but didn't

a.       Wife is physically attractive, lover is homely and uneducated

b.       Wife wanted attention -- not receiving enough at home

c.       Wife had already cut off affair -- values family life

2.       Feels justified in having sex with other women

D.     Gloria

1.      Ignored first "isolated" case of adultery

2.      Second case forced confrontation

a.       Still willing to try to work things out, but husband refused

E.      Roger

1.      Affair with secretary gave him new lease on life

a.       Didn't have affairs before because of guilt

2.      Discovered his wife was having an affair

a.       Didn't confess to his own affair

3.      Refused to give up affair

a.       Wife had lost moral leverage

b.       No longer felt guilty -- wouldn't give in to her demands

c.       Felt free to satisfy his own desires

F.      Women and men forgive adultery for similar reasons

1.      To preserve an otherwise good relationship

2.      For the sake of children

3.      Think they can't find a better partner anywhere else

G.     Ultimate sexual desires differ

1.      Ultimate desire of most women

a.       Have a long-term, sexually exclusive relationship

b.      Be with man who offers high levels of emotional/material investment

2.      Ultimate desire of most men

a.       Spread investments among several women in return for sexual favors

b.       When men discover infidelities, feel paying too high a price in marriage

c.        Become less willing to make compromises/investments in future


II.                 Section III

I.        Sexual tendencies

1. men

a.      men are more sexually jealous than women

b.      jealousy of men focuses on the act sexual intercourse

c.      control women through

1.      laws

2.      customs

3.      physical violence and isolation

                  d.  guard, defend, control sexual behavior of their mates

             2. women

a.    jealousy is focused on losing the relationship


II.     Offspring

1.            men are uncertain of paternity

      a. invest less in offspring than women

2.                   women are 100% sure that their offspring is theirs

b.      invest 100% because of their certainty

1.      society places high value on virginity

a.  men who have several mates are admired

b. women are thought of as foolish and punished for having                  

                          several mates

      (example: Samoa society)

III.      Adultery

1.  women

a.      actions are more likely to lead to divorce in a marriage

b.      double standard in modern society is inevitable

c.      most wives are angry and hurt by partners infidelity

1.      Patricia

IV.     Replacing Male Investments

1.  using market model to study marital breakup

a.explains behavior of many people today

2.  people rated their marriages

a prediction of how long the marriage would last

3.  if there is a likely hood of being able to replace partner they will


    4.  modern technology gives people freedom to decide what they really want out of the marriage


The courting between couples has drastically changed since it first evolved.  It bean as a strict ritual when couples were closely watched.  They had specific roles and duties to follow in a married life.  Emphasis was placed more on economic value than on individual feelings.  Premarital sex was kept to a minimum and looked down upon.  Things changed with the Industrial Revolution and technological development.

People began to take into account their feelings more.  They looked for friendship, companionship and love in a relationship.  There still remained economic partnerships.  Men and women realized that they had different priorities in marriage and their goals often overlapped.  Women are more concerned with emotional and material needs whereas men are more concerned with physical attraction.

Sexual gratification is much more of a concern for men than for women.  It is a big part of whether or not they are satisfied with their marriage.  It is proven that sexual interest and activity correlate with testosterone levels in both men and women.

Physical attractiveness is also more important for men than for women.  Only for men did the perceived physical attractiveness of partners correlate significantly with their satisfaction with their relationships (170).  It was not significant for women.  Physical beauty is important for gay men but not for women.

Men feel desires to expand their sexual opportunities when they increase their status and feel more confident.  They feel a sense of power that entices them.  They also may feel the need to cheat if they are not getting enough attention at home and are getting it elsewhere.

            Jake is a thirty-four-year old, married professional who has had two affairs with two different women.  He says that both affairs were initiated by the women, the first being a young, extremely forward secretary.  She only wanted an affair, not to break up his marriage.  He saw her a few times, but didn't enjoy the sex, especially since it seemed like she had to get really stoned in order to have good sex.  His second affair was with a woman who worked at the office.  She, too, was married and even had a child.  Jake has been seeing her every so often for a few months, but that's all he wants, because if the affair interrupted his marriage he would break it off.

            Jake figures the main payoff for his affairs is excitement.  His wife is beautiful, but to him, their sex is routine.  The woman he is seeing adds an element of spontaneity to his sex life.  He thinks that their affair is unfair to her because she isn't getting anything out of it.  She insists that she is and that it improves her marriage, plus it gives her a bit of revenge on her husband.  However, Jake feels quite guilty about his entire affair, like it's a betrayal of his marriage.  The affair has also lost some of its excitement.  He's thought about cutting it off, but for now he'll keep it on hold to keep it interesting.

            The basis for Jake's infidelity seems to be the novelty of having new partners, physical attractiveness and their sexual performance.  He feels like his affair has lost excitement, but that's most likely because the novelty of having a new partner is wearing off.  The woman he is having the affair with says she has a good marriage and merely wants an affair, but it's clear that she also has resentment towards her husband.  It's also clear that both of Jake's partners worked in his office and slept up by initiating affairs with him.

            Research has found that men are more likely than women to have sex outside their marriages.  Adulterous men are also more likely to have more partners than adulterous women, yet a woman committing adultery is more likely to cause the breakup of a marriage.  This is because of two reasons: when a married woman strays, it is usually because she is dissatisfied with her marriage and wants alternatives, but when a man strays outside of his marriage, he usually wants sex with different partners.  The man tries to avoid disruption to his marriage while he seeks sexual variety.  Women also are more likely to associate sex with emotional involvement.  As a result, they are far more likely to fall in love with their extramarital partners.  A third reason why a woman's infidelity is likely to breakup a marriage is because men are less likely to tolerate their partner's infidelity.  Once they discover it, they are more likely to initiate a breakup.

            Jon is an educated, politically liberal psychologist who doesn't think that extramarital sex is necessarily wrong.  However, before he discovered that his wife was having an affair he didn't think it would have that much of an effect on him.  When he discovered that his wife was indeed seeing another man he asked himself if he wanted to break up their marriage over something like this.  Up until that point he felt that their marriage had been quite good.  His wife had cut off the affair a few months before he found out so he knew it was over.  He also had a child to consider.  He didn't want to throw both his wife and his child out.  Jon also realized that his wife is the person that he's closest to.  When an unfortunate instance such as this happens he naturally wants to be with the person he's closest to, even if she's the one that caused him these problems.  He also finds her to be extremely attractive.  Jon told his wife that she couldn't expect fidelity from him now.  He feels that if the opportunity for him to have an affair comes up now, he'll take advantage of it.

            The thought of his wife making love with someone other than him upset Jon and even made him want to consider throwing her out.  He didn't because his wife is attractive and her lover is homely and uneducated, hardly a threat to Jon in any way.  She wanted the attention that the affair brought her because she didn't feel like she was getting enough attention at home.  Jon also values his family life and doesn't want to lose it, however he still feels angry about the situation which is why he feels he is justified in allowing himself to have sex with other women.

            Women have varying reactions towards the affairs of their partners.  Gloria is a divorced businesswoman.  Her ex-husband was always quite sexually active outside of their marriage but she was not aware of it for a long time.  She eventually realized that her husband was having an affair with his secretary, but she never said anything to him about it.  Then she found out that he was sleeping with the housekeeper as well.  When Gloria confronted him about his affairs he denied it all and refused to get counselling.  Instead he only wanted a divorce.  Gloria moved out of the house and the secretary moved in.  The secretary intended to marry him until she found out that he was sleeping with a nineteen-year old waitress.  Together with the secretary, Gloria managed to get revenge on her ex-husband in divorce court, but it cost her three years and $30,000.

            Roger is a forty-year old surgeon with an income of about $600,000.  As he built up his practice he was extremely caught up in his work and had little time to give to his family.  He tried to be both a good husband and father, but once he became established in his profession he wondered if it had been worth it.  He feels that he got a new lease on life when he met his secretary.  She's bored with her marriage since her husband is gone a lot and her kids are grown up.  She figures that Roger's marriage is bad as well, but in reality she's number three in his life, after his family and his career.  In the past Roger's wife didn't feel that he gave her enough love, making him feel like a cold and unloving person.  However with his girlfriend he finally feels like he's a valued person.  He can give and receive emotionally.  His wife even accepted him more because he was more affectionate.  Their marriage was better than ever.

            Two months later Roger discovered that his wife has been having an affair that predates his.  He realized that he's been faithful for seventeen years and feeling guilty because he didn't feel that he was supportive enough of her.  His anger makes him feel that he's justified in not revealing his affair to his wife.  After their confrontation, they made love.  For the next months after that night, Roger felt that their marriage was really doing better than ever and that they were closer than before, yet he didn't want to end his affair.  Their marriage started to take a nosedive because of this.  Roger had more self-confidence.  The next time he and his wife argued and said she'd had enough, he didn't back down.  Instead he moved out.  She could no longer make him feel guilty.  He finally felt free enough to do as he pleased.

            Women and men forgive their partners' adultery for similar reasons: to preserve a good relationship or for their children or because they don't think they could find a better partner anywhere else.  Yet the ultimate desire for most women is to acquire a long-term sexually exclusive relationship with a man who can offer high levels of emotional and material investment.  Males desire to spread their investments among several women in return for their sexual favors.  When they discover their wives have been cheating on them they are more likely to feel that they're paying too high a price in their marriages and become less willing to make compromises and investments in the future.

In an article written by Martin Daly, Margo Wilson, and Suzanne Weghorst they argue that men are innately more sexually jealous than women.  Men have attempted to control women’s sexual behavior through laws and customs, physical violence, and physical isolation.  Cross culturally and historically a women’s infidelity in the marriage has been thought that these actions are considered more wrong by the society then if the husband were to have the affair.  Psychological and psychiatric studies in the United States state that jealousy of men focuses on the act of sexual intercourse.  Men usually tend to have fantasies of their female partners having sex with other males.  This can promote a violent reaction.  A women’s jealousy is more focused is losing the relationship and their partners resources, time, and affection.  These sex differences come across through all cultures.   According to Daly and Wilson they “conclude that men are more biologically predisposed than women to guard, defend, and control the sexual behavior of their mates.”(p. 181)

In the world of procreation females are more certain that their offspring are truly theirs.  Most males do not have this certainty that these offspring are theirs especially if they were born months later.  These males do not invest as much in their offspring because they are trying to keep other males away from the females to ensure their paternity.  Throughout time males have developed tactics and tricks to beat males in mating competition.  Females invest in their offspring because they are sure that they are her children.  This might be one of the major reasons society outs such a high value on female virginity.  In the Samoa society where there is sexual freedom a male who has several conquest is admired.  A woman on the other hand is thought of as foolish and punished for these kinds of actions.  “Those who give away valuable assets too cheaply are considered foolish.  Male sexuality will always be “cheaper” than female sexuality because men want sex more and will give it away.  Women want sex with investment.” (p.182)

Like we stated before a women’s adultery is more likely to lead to divorce than men’s adultery.  Most wives are angry and hurt when they find out about their husbands infidelity like in Patricia’s story.  Patricia’s husband had an affair but she was willing to forgive him.  She thought of him as an excellent husband and father.  She also felt that she could not replace which influences her decision to forgive and forget.

There are some people today who think of their marriages as something sacred and permanent.   Sociologists Richard Udry found how people of today rated their marriages was a predictor in how long their marriage would last. A better predictor of marriages dissolution is how  “some married individuals might have good marriages by other couples’ standards, but if they think that they do not need their spouses anymore, or that they can replace their spouses with someone better, they are likely to break up.” (p. 184) This was Sally’s case.  Sally was not happy in her marriage for several years, but she did not want to break up her marriage because there was no replacement to the resources and emotions she was receiving.  “We have seen that modern technology, convenient contraceptives, and the decline of the sexual division of labor allow contemporary men and women greater freedom to decide what they really want in marriage, and to leave if they are not satisfied.  Modern marriages those last now are probably much better than marriages of previous eras.


Interesting Point- That wives were more dissatisfied with every aspect of married life except sexual relations and husbands were mostly concerned with sexual relations.


Confusing Point- Why was there still such a high pregnancy rate when the pill was introduced?


Better explanation of- What couples really want from a married life, not just what they want sexually

Interesting/Informative Point: Women's adultery is more likely to lead to the breakup of a marriage.


A Weak Case or Confusing Point: The author makes a point that women have varying reactions to infidelity.  He makes it sound like he will follow up this statement with various cases or examples, but only goes on to talk about Gloria's isolated case.  This was kind of confusing and it would have been better if he had explained this further.


Interesting Point:  Women are only willing to stay in the relationship if they don not have a better offer; meaning they will stay even if unsatisfied because they do not want to lose out with what’s being currently provided.


Confusing Point:  Why if unsatisfied with the marriage women willing to stay in the marriage, is it just too much hardship to be without the resources provide by their mate.


Need Further explanation:  Why men are able to have more sexual freedom then women (Double Standard Rule).