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