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By Egon Mayer
Marriage among Jews and Christians
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Extra resources for Love & Tradition: Marriage between Jews and Christians
How could men control their women and women their men? How could the proper balance be maintained between parents and children if their relationships were subject to unpredictable emotions? The function of the traditional home was to provide sustenance, safety, social standing in the community, and patrimony from one generation to the next. None of those functions would be much advanced by allowing love to play a salient role in the making of family relationships. As Edward Shorter demonstrated with dogged historical scholarship, "the traditional family was much more a productive and reproductive unit than an emotional unit ...
The drama of the act is internally anticipated and socially legitimated long before it takes place ... and amplified by means of a pervasive ideology, the dominant themes of which (romantic love, sexual fulfillment, self-discovery and self-realization . . the nuclear family as the social site for MARRIAGE AND CONSCIOUSNESS 67 these processes) can be found distributed in all strata of the society.... It should be added that, in using the term "strangers," we do not mean that the candidates for the marriage come from widely discrepant social backgrounds-indeed, the data indicate that the contrary is the case.
It was a rather unrealistic model of a man-woman relationship which suggested that two human beings can forge a new reality from love and sheer personality. But whereas modern marriage partners are impelled to create their own shared system of meaning, their own reality, they can never do so without reference to their individual as well as their collective past. The intimate conversations generated in the familial dyad cannot continue to depend on the shared affections of the couple only. They must inevitably draw on the same cultural wellspring in which their preromantic and premarital characters were formed.
Love & Tradition: Marriage between Jews and Christians by Egon Mayer