Sunday, March 28, 2010

does marriage change a man?

We all have heard stuff like “Before marriage, a man declares that he would lay down his life to serve you; after marriage, he won't even lay down his newspaper to talk to you.” While this might seem like a joke, in many cases, this seems to be all to true. The question I have though is why?
After looking in to it, I just found this article discussing studies done by Peter Gray—an anthropology professor at UNLV. Gray’s research is one of the first studies done outside of North America to show that hormone levels can change significantly in men when they become involved in long-term marital relationships. After conducting studies around the world, Gray and his team discovered that men who were married tended to have lower testosterone levels than single men of the same age. Is it possible that this reduction in testosterone would explain the behavioral changes that happen after marriage? Unfortunately, we will never really know. Similar studies have been done investigating the correlation between violent behaviors in single vs. married men.
Apparently, young men experience peaks in criminal behavior and testosterone production at around the same ages. When they marry, men experience a decline in testosterone production, and statistically they are less likely to commit violent crimes when compared with single men of the same age. What is more, when men divorce and begin dating again, their testosterone level rises back to the same levels of a single male.
Statistically as well, their involvement in violent crime increases.
At face value, it seems that marriage has a civilizing effect on men because it reduces their testosterone levels. However, it is impossible to draw such a conclusion due to an altered lifestyles of the men. With more time spent staying out late at night in clubs and bars where single women are encountered as well as increased alcohol consumption are complicating factors as these things can clouds reason and impair judgment.
In the end, it is impossible to draw a definitive conclusion correlating the hormonal changes that occur when men marry to the behavioral changes. Never the less it is interesting to conceder Gray’s findings the next time you hear someone complaining about their love life after marriage.


Ambrosia Writer said...

I am always interested when I see studies on why stereotypes are prevalent and seem to often strike true. At the same time, I can't help but be automatically stereotypical when I see such studies. As a person who tries her best to not work in terms of absolutes (IE falling into believe stereotypes), I always wonder just what else could cause these particular stereotypical behaviors.

Is it the testosterone? Or is it because the stereotypes of the gender are so ingrained that boys are raised to believe once they marry it doesn't matter anymore, since you've got "your prize", and the testosterone levels react to that mentality instead of the "entered a long-term committed relationship".

How about men who cheat? Are their testosterone levels to blame because they never fell? Or is it because they had a father who cheated or peers who taught them that "if you can get away with it you are the MAN!" I wonder how hormones in women change, or if they do at all, when they enter a relationship.

Ambrosia Writer said...

I wish that they allowed you to edit comments...

I meant to say I can't help but be automatically SKEPTICAL when I see such studies.