Family Outreach Publications
I The Scent of Love
II When Victims Marry
III Making Peace With Your Past
IV When God Says You're OK
V How Men and Women Compare (Brain sex)
VI Celebrating Intimate Behavior In Marriage
VII The Beauty of Sexual Love
VIII Thirteen Beatitudes For Husbands
IX Twelve Commandments for Wives From Husbands Prospectives
X Remarriage and Stepparenting
XI Twelve Guidelines for Good Communication
XII Types of Fastidious Husbands
XIII Perspectives on Health and Marriage
XIV Critical Concerns of Married Women
XV Women Between A Rock and a Hard Place
THE NATURE OF MARRIAGE
When victims marry both husbands and wives are placed at distinct disadvantages. Both look forward to having their mates to resolve the long-term problems that have been perceived as needs or deficits. Both risk disappointment.
The social institution in which a man and woman decides to make a legal commitment and to take religious vows to live together in a close, connected, enduring relationship is known as marriage. In the beginning marriage was instituted as a loving relationship to supply companionship. From birth individuals crave association with a warm parent or companion. A companion is able to accompany, understand and live with another in the capacity of a helpful friend. Ideally, sound marriages frequently progress from a period of discovery when couples first meet to the development of a casual friendship, followed by becoming good friends and then romantic friends. This was probably the sequence of affairs that preceded marriages during Bible times and currently in countries in which parents still play a part in mate selection. In America marriage tends to proceed from romance, infatuation "in which reality recedes and fantasy dominates" and often leads to marital disillusion (Ables & Brandsma, 1977, p.2).
Marriage is a relationship derived from a spiritual, emotional, social & physical connection between a man and woman. It is a relationship that is influenced by bonding. Bonding is the force that unites people and emphasizes the strong enduring quality of love. Marriage is also influenced by conscious and unconscious needs. Many felt needs originated in early childhood but are projected onto marital partners as deserved expectations. Unfulfilled expectations lead to feelings of disappointment and unhappiness with marital partners. We must ultimately realize that the patterns of behavior that we develop in families of origin may play a part in the way we think, believe, feel and behave, but the final decision to act is a personal one. Therefore each spouse in a couple relationship must be individually and mutually responsible.
The marriage relationship entails a lifetime of change and adjustment. There are no perfect relationships. Marital partners all have a combination of qualities that are liked and disliked. Couples who learn to focus more on qualities that are appreciated than on those that are undesirable usually adjust better. Some of the very same characteristics that once pleased a spouse may later add to displeasure. Mary loved Joe because he was so calm, predictable and dependable. She later complained that he was hopelessly boring. Couples must continuously work on their marriages. They must learn to deal with changes in feelings. Feelings are expected to change. Couples must realistically assess what is wanted in life - what are the life goals, interests, socio-cultural conditions, religious backgrounds and traits of the families of origin. Couples must realize that "good marriages" without adequate care can deteriorate and "bad marriages" with ample dedication, hard work and spiritual nurture and therapeutic intervention can improve.
With the rapid escalation of marital conflict, violence, separation and divorce, it is high time that more intensified methods of helping married couples cope effectively be instituted. Marital disharmony has the potential to weaken the most basic structure of society - the family. When marriage between couples disintegrate family unity vanishes, homes become fragmented, children become disillusioned, Christian rules and values are undermined and society at large becomes chaotic.
Marriage was designed to be a stable relationship based on love and faith. However, since marital partners are unique they will differ and have some disagreements. Marital counseling operates on the premise that positive change, flexibility, and collaboration can improve marital relationships. Psycho-therapy is directed toward helping couples understand themselves better as individuals and as spouses. Since the emphasis will be practical, minimal theory will be used and then only as a means to enhance understanding of relational dynamics. The scope of this book will focus on improving problem behavior interaction and communication that create emotional discomfort in marriage. It will not address deep pathological disorders that impact on marriage. A group approach is most often indicated with both members of the couples dyad attending together. The method of improving marriages will be pschoeducation.
In keeping with the usual progression of marriage that begins with fantasy-boy meets girl, becomes attracted, falls in love syndrome, we will begin by clarifying what is meant by love.
Faulty beliefs and distorted thinking can create intense feelings of dis-satisfaction in marriage. Disappointed expectations and perceived need debits often are blamed on childhood trauma by psychoanalytic proponents. Interpersonal problems resulted from inner conflict. J. B. Watson changed the focus of psychology from the study of psychoanalytic inner emotional drives and uncontrollable instincts to the study of the outer observable environmental stimulus and behavioral responses known as Behaviorism. He held that fear and anxiety are learned responses and can be unlearned. He challenged Freuds theory that postulated emotional and mental problems resulted from the emotional trauma inflicted on individuals by abusive parents in early childhood. Such a stance was considered to be sentimental speculation. The problem with Watson's Theory was that he completely discredited the influence of emotions on behavior since emotions could not be observed and empirically measured. The views of Watson often made behavioral scientists seem cold, impersonal and insensitive to the feelings of clients.
Contemporary behaviorists tend to be more liberal and are more congruent with the idea that emotions also need to be considered as an important element in mental health. It probably took the scientific research of Selye (1978) on stress to convince many behaviorist the relevancy of emotional affect on health. Selye showed that physical stressors and psychological stressors both had the capacity to impact on the physiological functioning of the generalized adaptive system and to deplete adaptive energy. In severe cases of distress, physical illness, mental illness and death can ensue due to severe continual mental anguish, pain and emotional suffering as often occur in destructive marital relationships.
Ables, Billies & Brandsma, Jeffrey M. (1977). Therapy for couples. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Selye, Hans. (1978). The stress of life. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.