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Sent on Mormon-News: 31Jul01

By deborah carl

BYU Professor Says Altruism Key to Marital Bliss

PROVO, UTAH -- Scott Loveless, attorney, wondered where the love went and what caused formerly happy couples to breakup their marriage. Loveless spent 10 years working as an attorney for the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., but when he moved to the Salt Lake City field office he decided to work part time on a degree in family studies from Brigham Young University. He graduated in April 2000 and in January he joined the World Family Policy Center as associate director working with Richard Wilkins at BYU.

In his quest to learn about marriage/divorce issues Loveless wondered what kind of happiness is lasting and identified three approaches to happiness: hedonism, individualism and altruism

Loveless described hedonism as: "Life is about fun, enjoyment, pleasure. Anything that gets in the way is bad or wrong, people wanting all their needs to be taken care of so they can play." As Loveless interviewed LDS couples for his dissertation he found when the couple have a predominance of hedonism, "There is a level of conflict and dissatisfaction with each other. Each person represents an obligation that gets in the way of their pleasure."

People espousing individualism say: "I'm happy by my achievements -- accomplishing and fulfilling my potential," Loveless said. "With individualism there can be a sense of competition with others. But at least they have rules to live by and recognize the error of hedonism." The LDS married couple seeking happiness through individualism also had an undercurrent of dissatisfaction but in many ways were happy, Loveless said. "However, things would flare up because of desires not being met."

Altruism is consistent with the fundamental objectives of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism. "It's called 'loving thy neighbor,' " Loveless said. "Altruism says 'we're not just responsible for ourselves but for other people.' " As Loveless studied altruism he found in terms of happiness, it is not the direct effect. "In altruism the person is here to serve the needs of other people, the spouse and children first," Loveless said. "Where that kind of devotion to serving is shown, the happiness came as a byproduct." The attorney found the LDS couple who "practiced" altruism had a marriage that was constant, stable, happy, even marvelous.

"No conditions were attached," he said. "The 'I'm here for you, first and foremost,' was present in both husband and wife."


Professor finds key to marital happiness
Provo UT Daily Herald 21Jul01 P2
By Karen Hoag: The Daily Herald


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