Psychological problems of marriage
As you know, “all happy families are similar to each other, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” So how do happy families resemble each other? And so the love can continue throughout life? The American psychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist Judith Wallerstein tried to answer these questions.
I would like to introduce you to the findings of her study of 50 happy couples, in which she used the case study method. Couples who met the following criteria were selected to participate in the study:
1. The couple must be legally married for at least 9 years;
2. A couple has one or more children;
3. Both husband and wife consider their marriage happy;
4. The consent of both spouses to both individual and joint interviews.
On the basis of this study suggested that Wallerstein nine psychological tasks of marriage that challenge men and women throughout their life journey. These tasks – a kind of building blocks of a harmonious and strong marriage. These tasks, as they transform, are the work of marriage, which allows to maintain a high quality of relations under the stresses of modern society and the changes occurring with each of the partners throughout life.
1. To separate emotionally from the family of origin so that you can fully invest your strength and feelings in your own family Union, and, at the same time, to reconsider the point of contact with both parent families
The first task in any first marriage is to separate psychologically from the family of origin, to commit to the relationship and to build a new kind of connection with the generation of parents. These two at first glance in opposition to each other tasks, in fact, intertwined and equally necessary. You can live separately with someone you love and even live in an official marriage and have children, but not psychologically separate from your parent family. To have a good marriage, you need to find an independent position and be able to rely on your own ability to make decisions and make elections. Everyone who marries must move the primary love and loyalty from the parents to the marriage partner. This emotional transition from the role of son or daughter to that of husband or wife is achieved through an internal reworking of attachments and conflicts with parents.
For those who married young, the difficulties of early marriage coincide with the challenges of maturation. A good marriage can help each partner become an adult, while a bad marriage can block or delay maturity. It often happens that parents do not let their grown-up child go emotionally, they try to keep control over it with all their might. Often parents also believe that their child deserves a better partner and clearly or implicitly convey this opinion to both spouses. It happens that between one of the parents and the husband of the daughter or the wife of the husband there is tension, especially if the young couple lives with their parents, which can result in a clear conflict between the married partner and the parents.
Each and grown-up children, and have reached new milestones on your life’s journey, the parent, must survive the loss of daily presence of the other. Recognizing the choice of a son or daughter as a life partner and adapting to a new life is a serious test for the maturity of parents. Alas, not everyone has so Mature parents who are able to accept that they have lost their former influence on their children entering adulthood.
The separation process is painful, it rarely goes without tears and anger, but it is necessary to protect the marriage. Both the young couple and parents on both sides should be involved in building new relationships. Maintaining relationships is a challenge for both generations throughout their lives.
I will also briefly note that in the second marriages, this task also includes the elimination of attachment to past partners and getting rid of the ghosts of the previous marriage.
2. Creating a community based on shared intimacy and identity, and at the same time establishing boundaries that protect the autonomy of each partner
Building togetherness and autonomy refers to a shared vision shared by both partners of how you want to spend your life together, which involves creating a psychological identity of marriage that is “us together” rather than “each of us individually.” Building a new, shared identity requires a shift from the Self of an emancipated teenager and young adult to a strong and secure self.
The feeling that you are part of a couple is what strengthens a modern marriage. It is a powerful bulwark against the relentless threats of our divorce culture. The sense of “we” gives marriage a restraining force in the face of inevitable frustrations and temptations to run away and go astray. It also gives partners the feeling that they have created their own independent state in which they set the rules. For the sake of loyalty to the created community, each partner meets the need to abandon egocentricity and sacrifice some part of their autonomy.
Each person may experience frustration, pain, anger, faced with the need to share, to give, to abandon the old freedoms. Everyone is angry at the responsibility of adulthood and the terrible burden of the constant and demanding presence of the other. There is always a danger, especially in the early years of marriage, that the needs and demands of the partner will be perceived as insatiable, frightening, exploitative and degrading, that the demands of adulthood will be mixed with the demands of the partner, and the blame for this will be laid on him.
However, creating a marriage identity is only half of the task. The other half is to maintain autonomy and establish a distance between husband and wife, giving everyone some private space, protected from the introduction of the other.
Balancing community and autonomy is one of the main keys to a successful marriage. Differences must be admitted, recognized and accepted. The community acquired in marriage has as its reverse side the individualization. Intimacy has its necessary opposite in a flexible distance and the right to be alone or in a relationship with someone else. Building autonomy within a shared vision of marriage is not the same as preserving the individual lifestyle that each partner brings to marriage.
Nowadays, men and women later marry and resist giving up their personal lifestyle. It would be easier for people intending to marry if they understood that giving up some of the benefits of living alone is an inevitable and necessary step.
These first two tasks, psychological separation from the family of origin and finding a balance between building a sense of “We”, and maintaining some autonomy, according to Judith Wallerstein, create the Foundation for a family Union.
3. The creation of full and pleasurable sexual relationship and protect them from incursions on the part of family and work-related obligations
We mistakenly believe that, thanks to the sexual experience with which people get married these days, building a good sexual relationship is relatively easy. But sexual intimacy in marriage is often associated with anxiety, a feeling of fear of being ridiculed, rejected, abandoned, or, on a more primitive level, of being depressed or submissive partner.
Although few would dispute the Central role of sexual relations for a good marriage, this study, as well as the study of the causes of divorce, confirmed the fact that the sexual life of partners is a very vulnerable part of the relationship. It is sensitive to short and long breaks associated with stress at work, the birth of children, the increasing needs of young children, diseases, normal fatigue, etc. When sexual relations are regularly postponed (the child cries, the boss calls, etc.), the relationship in the pair weakens, and can gradually result in a crisis.
An emotionally charged sex life makes a life together worthy of the many sacrifices required to maintain a strong family bond. The couples who participated in this study worked very hard to ensure that they had personal time to spend together. They considered this moment decisive. Sexual relations in marriage are much more important than casual relationships and need to be treated as a priority. Without this, sexual contact can become superficial and not fully satisfying.
The bedroom is a privileged place for easy play, erotic pleasure, laughter, adventure, passion, accepted aggression and, in the end, achieving freedom from children’s taboos.
The birth of a child usually reduces the interest in sex in women, it usually lasts the entire first year after the birth of the child. As one woman said, “I felt that my Breasts belonged to a child and my husband was trespassing.”
Conversely, the birth of a child can lead to increased sexual arousal in men; they may feel vulnerable, rejected because the child has taken their place. Married couples often solved these explosive differences in the following way: at the first opportunity, the needs of the partner were given priority, regardless of the level of their own sexual desires.
Maintaining sexual desire over the years requires constant, fine-tuning of partners, i.e. sensitivity to the needs and desires of each other.
4. The ability to “punch” with the advent of the baby in the family and at the same time maintaining the closeness of the couple. Combining efforts related to parental roles and obligations in connection with the birth of children
For couples in this study, the experience of parenthood was one of the most important experiences in life. Parenthood, along with numerous problems, helped determine marriage, contributed to psychological growth, brought countless joyful experiences. Life would have been a lot easier without the kids, but it was worth it. Children provided a sense of stability and purpose of life. For many people, children have given marriage moral meaning and a sense of continuity of generations. Each person said that life would not be so rich for him without the shared experience of raising children.
The appearance of children forever changes the marriage, bringing to the house anxiety and a sense of calm and well-being, fatigue and endless excitement and laughter. Children speed up the rhythm of life and paint it in bright colors. They cause the parents a special tenderness and protection, and a sense of responsibility and care. The birth of children challenges parents to reconsider their own life goals and values. Sometimes parenting feels like a heavy burden, but in good marriages, men and women are willing to make these sacrifices for their children and are proud of themselves and each other as parents.
The first months after the birth of the child require a pair of adjustment and a new device, the expansion of a cozy circle, including their two, to allocate space, both psychological and physical, for their child. Alas, many do not cope with this successfully. Often the birth of a child becomes the trigger of the failure of the marriage, many couples lose the intimacy and passion that they had before.
The birth of a child transforms the psychological and emotional life of parents and thus changes the dynamics of the relationship between husband and wife. The dyad becomes a triad. During this period, more than in any other, there is sometimes a lively presence of the families of origin of both partners. The realization of beautiful fantasies about your own child can revive old conflicts, open old wounds.
A common dilemma during this period is that his sexual arousal increases while his sexual arousal decreases. A young man may think, “My wife doesn’t want me, doesn’t want to take care of me. She got what she wanted, and all she needs me to do is take care of her and the baby.”
Unfortunately, this is quite a frequent scenario and then a man can seek solace on the side, with another woman. And even if the relationship begins as nothing more than a frivolous flirtation or an attempt at revenge, to his surprise, it can greatly delay.
The result may be a divorce a year or two after the birth of a child – a tragedy for the whole family. A significant number of divorces is due to the fact that the couple was unable to integrate the child into the family and, at the same time, to maintain, “reset” their special relationship as a couple.
Or events can develop in a different scenario. A father can be genuinely identified with his wife’s desire to give the baby full priority. He can give up his emotional and sexual demands on her. The result may be the glorification of the child in an emotionally impoverished, boring marriage. Such a marriage, in which the needs of the couple are completely neglected, can continue indefinitely or, to everyone’s surprise, suddenly collapse.
I will briefly note that similar problems arise with the birth of each child and even more problems if there is a small difference in time between the birth of children.
5. Ability to resist and overcome the inevitable crises of life, to maintain the strength of marital bonds in the face of adverse circumstances
A series of crises affect the life of any person, any family. Couples were no exception to this study. All of them have experienced at least one serious tragedy, some of them have experienced several traumatic events in their life together.
In General, crises can be divided into two broad categories. The first is the crises that come from the anticipated changes in life. These are the events or changes that occur at different stages of life, such as pregnancy; the birth of the child; the achievement of adult mid-life; the child reaches adolescence or the moment when he leaves the house; menopause; retirement and similar changes can lead to a crisis. Although such crises can be predicted, their shape, pace and the feelings that accompany them are usually unpredictable.
The second category includes unexpected twists and blows of fate that can happen at any moment of life. Some of them could be partly expected, such as the death of an elderly parent, some were never even allowed into consciousness, for example, the sudden death of a friend or child.
The task of coping with the crisis involves a number of steps that, as found in this study, are followed by happy couples. First, they tried to realistically recognize and think about the consequences of the crisis. They sought to separate their fears of the worst-case scenario from what actually happened.
For example, the parents of a child diagnosed with cancer feared the worst, but assumed that the treatment could be successful. They thought realistically about the extent and duration of the crisis, seeking to learn as much as possible about its potential consequences. They tried to think not only about how the crisis affects the one who suffered the most, but also about other family members, and about marital relations. Realistically planning their actions, in so far as it was possible in the circumstances, they avoided the extremes of freezing in helplessness and desperate cast in a pointless activity.
Second, they defended each other without falling into accusations, despite the strong temptation to do so. In fact, they did even more; they tried to protect each other from untrue self-incriminations.
Thirdly, they have taken steps to ensure that their life to some extent returned to the pleasure and humor to keep the view from the side of their current events. They did something for each other and the children to push away the sense of doom and gloom.
Fourthly, they did not pretend to be a Martyr or a Martyr or a Saint. Fear of each of us makes capricious and all dissatisfied. Like all people, the study participants sometimes behaved inadequately and even did destructive and self-destructive things, for example, in a fit of anger left those who love you and who need you. But usually they were able to block these impulses and control themselves, because they saw the connection between the crisis and the inappropriate adverse reaction. And they made great efforts to take destructive tendencies under control and to avoid their negative influence on marriage.