What Men Want From Marriage
Seeking a Soul Mate
A more level playing field between husbands and wives when it comes to work and childcare may have paved the way for men to think a bit more about matters of the heart.
In a 2001 Gallup poll commissioned by the National Marriage Project, some 94 percent of men between 20 and 29 said they wanted to marry someone who, above all, could fulfill their emotional needs. "They're telling us that they want a psychological companion -- someone who shares their aspirations and fits into their life in a spiritual way," says Dr. Popenoe. "They're not just looking for someone to change diapers and do dishes. They want a soul mate."
In fact, the percentage of men now looking for a soul mate is virtually the same as that of women. "I don't think this is something that was forced on men," says Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist who has researched thousands of couples. "I think it's simply that men, like women, are looking for more meaning from life."
Dr. Popenoe actually worries that men today may place too much emphasis on finding a partner who meets their emotional needs. When the National Marriage Project conducted interviews last year with 60 unmarried men in their late 20s and early 30s, they gave the standard reasons for being unwed -- fear of making too many compromises, the financial risks of divorce, the desire to continue enjoying the single life -- but many also said they had yet to find a soul mate and were holding out for one. Dr. Popenoe, for one, believes that men may be setting the bar too high. Compared with cooking and cleaning, he warns, "psychological needs can be a lot trickier to fill."