Considering Marriage

Physical and material needs are no longer the motivations for marriage.

We marry someone who we perceive, consciously or unconsciously, will meet our emotional needs.

6 Myths of marriage:
1. That people marry because they love each other
2. That most married people love each other
3. That love is necessary for a satisfactory marriage
4. That there are inherent behavioral and attitudinal differences between female and male, and that these differences cause most marital troubles
5. That loneliness will be cured by marriage
6. That if you can tell your spouse to go to hell you have a poor marriage

4 Different types of marriage:
1. Stable-Satisfactory
2. Unstable-Satisfactory
3. Unstable-Unsatisfactory
4. Stable-Unsatisfactory

3 Major elements of a satisfactory marriage:
1. Respect each other. The greater number of areas of respect, the more satisfactory the marriage.
2. Tolerate each other. Accept each other’s shortcomings.
3. Make the most of assets and minimize liabilities.
Marital relationships are not static. Relationship is a process involving constant change.

Communication is a very complex interaction. It is a learned skill, and like all complex skills, it can be developed only through much practice.

The deeper and more meaningful the relationship desired by the couple, the more communication becomes necessary.

The desire to communicate and the effort put forth to establish it will be, in some measure, an indication of the kind of marriage desired and the strength of that desire.

We may communicate in many ways – by gestures, facial expressions, voice inflections. But words, communicated verbally, are by far the most versatile and effective. Through language we can express abstract ideas and feelings. But our use of language is a frequent source of our problems.

Our learned associations to words constitute a far greater potential problem. We learn emotional responses to words early in life.

We often mistakenly assume our partner has the same associations as ourself. We make a remark and assume it will be heard and responded to in the manner we might hear and respond to if it had been made by someone else. But we may seriously mistaken.

Our total life experiences, and all that goes to make up who were are emotionally, will also affect the ways in which we will perceive what we hear.

Our perceptions are formed and influenced by our emotional needs, our fears, and our attitudes.

Any instance of poor communication may be simply a misunderstanding, the result of ambiguity in the message or difficulty in reception.

We learn a self-image. And we cling to it tenaciously.

Candor isn’t necessarily a virtue.

Communication in marriage calls for both understanding and empathy. And both call for unqualified acceptance of another person.

Feelings are feelings. They are not intellectual or rational, and cannot be rationally defended. To ask someone to defend his feelings is, therefore, unfair.

Teasing is always an expression of hostility no matter how mild and regardless of the motivation for the teasing.

The ability to postpone our rewards, to work for rewards which may be a long time in coming, is crucial to the development of communication. It is also one of the more significant indices of maturity.

Most of the rewards associated with communication are indirect rather than direct. They are the satisfactions of loving and being loved, the attainment of the oneness of a relational marriage.

Clarify what you are attempting to say and define the words you choose. Never assume that your words, and their meanings, clearly communicate what you intend. If what you are trying to say is important (and what isn’t?), say it, then clarify it, expand and amplify it, and then rephrase it until you are reasonably certain it could not be misinterpreted.

Don’t draw inferences.
One of the cardinal sins against marital communication is the tendency to “listen” not to the words spoken, but to our own additions to what is said. It is a step further than a misinterpretation or difference in definition. It’s a mental expansion on what was said in which we literally put whole phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs into our partner’s mouth on the basis of inferences which may have little relationship to reality.

The wise husband and wife will forcefully resist any temptation to leap to any inferences and conclusions on the basis of voice inflection, bodily movement, facial expressions, etc.

We must learn to accept what is said, not what we have inferred.

Water and incomes have a way of seeking their own levels, or so it would seem.

We each carry a set of monetary values which are ours alone. They’re idiosyncratic.

If another’s values make no sense to us, it is only because they are not our values.

The amount of money a couple has is never the cause of marital conflict.

The symbolic value which we attach to money will affect our marriages, regardless of how much or how little we may acquire.

Sexual compatibility is the key to a successful marriage.

Everything in marriage is sexual, and a marriage will be only as successful as a couple’s sexual relationship.

Lovemaking is an art and not a skill.

Only humans vary their lovemaking. Only humans are subject to boredom. And only humans can make the sexual act an act of love.