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Wednesday, December 30. 2009
Do Americans expect too much from marriage? A re-post from our Dr. Bliss archives
While I am quite pleased and content with my own (first) marriage, when I talk with unhappy people, which I do all day, I am often reminded that the nuclear family is a very recent invention, that the notion of romantic love is also recent, that arranged marriages and marriages of convenience or necessity were the norms of the past, and that humans are not "naturally" monogamous - whatever I might mean by "naturally".
When you put the nuclear family together with dreams of enduring romantic love, it's a set-up for disappointment. The nuclear family, unlike the extended family (or the tribe), is isolating and does not provide a broad base of support in life. Intense romantic love, unlike plain old-fashioned strong attraction and desire, is a regressed state of mind - some shrinks half-jokingly call it a form of insanity. Not that it isn't great fun, but it gives way to reality in time, although the best marriages can rekindle the old feeling from time to time.
One thing that is probably not talked about enough is how many marriages are not founded in "true love," but instead are founded on loneliness, desire for companionship, desire for babies, desire for security, fear of becoming an old maid, friendship, desire for a social foundation, etc. This is not a bad thing, but I sometimes wonder whether the contrived and ridiculously costly fairy-tale trappings of the typical American wedding is designed to obscure those facts. Young folks these days often talk about having "friends with benefits" while they await true love, without realizing that "friends with benefits" can be one description of one kind of satisfying marriage.
But to get back on track here, yes, I believe that we tend to wish that a marriage could meet all of our emotional and physical needs. Shrinks term that a regressive, ie childish, wish - not just because it is unrealistic, but also because if emphasizes the "meeting my needs" aspect of a relationship rather than emphasizing "how can I try to give these people (wife, kids) a good life".
It's a truism that people thrive when they have multiple sources for emotional care, and many outlets for love and caring. Friends, colleagues, neighbors, members of clubs or churches, etc, Making and keeping good friends is not really an easy thing to do, and I don't know anyone who doesn't want one, or doesn't want another one. In fact, I suspect that one reason moms want jobs these days is because they feel isolated with their kids.
Althouse noted a NYT op-ed piece by History Prof Stephanie Coontz about the limits of marriage. Althouse comments:
Quotes from the Coontz piece:
Read the whole thing here.
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After 24 years I still get the giggles when he walks into the room. Do we have sex everynight--hell no! Do we fight--whevener he screws up! Is he perfect--no, but he is an officer and a gentleman. What do I tell my daughter--if you cannot find one this good--go it alone! What does he tell our daughters--"life is not fair, and men are no damn good--now what is the problem?"
Our great joy comes from the fact that each of us searches for beauty, and the other supports that effort. No one cheats, and no one bashes. If you want to do word damage you are going to get hurt back--best not to do that!
And...what are the colour of the apple trees in your neighbourhood?
Agreed... reminds me of an article I read in Psychology Today March/April 2006... "Great Expectations"... http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20040301-000002.html
I have a wonderful wife, but I have noticed since the mid 1970's a precipitious jump in the number of Lady MacBeth's roaming the land.
Do we have sex every day. Not unless it's self administered. Do we disagree at times on who gets to use the cat-o-nine tails first, yes.
The secret to a good marriage is for the man to have a "man cave" to retreat to, books, magazines,computer, his guns,knives, bows and arrows, and for the woman to be near enough to the mall or a girlfiend to go do things.
Young men make terrible mistakes in their marriages right off the bat. They still are in the mindset that they are going to run things..Young men cast away that thought it will only bring heartache and a restraining order.
Secondly if you want to have a great marriage, when tasked by the wife to, "go to the store and pick up a box of Cascade for the dishwasher", return with chips, dip, sodas, cookies,and beer, having "forgotten the "Cascade"...beg forgiveness .... repeat process several times on different 'runs" to the store.......soon she'll take over that task.
Guys, ALL home repair tasks, no matter how simple should be done using two or three items. 1. duct tape 2. wire coathangers, clipped or bent to the almost proper configuration..3. Gorilla glue...
Soon home repair tasks will become her call ...on the phone...run to the man cave.
Soon she'll think (this is for young couples) you're only worth the romp and mattress time, which you're in full agreement with.....that's a good marriage ....learn to control the giving up of control. As you age your testosterone depletes while womens increase so don't fight the inevitible over the other stuff outside the bedroom, sofa, kitchen , shower etc .... graciously become an inept dolt on all the other "he-man stuff" ..you'll save yourself a ton of headaches.
And remember the three stages of marrige.
Stage one..newly weds who have sex sex sex anywhere ,anytime
Stage two. 5 to 15 year marriages..sex in bedroom 2 to 3x a week..then back to man-cave.
Stage three..after fifteen years couples pass each other in the hallway, give each othGreatly depends on what field and what school
A straight A student with a BA from Bethune Cookman in Eubonics vs A straight A student with a BA in Mathematics from Princeton.
Bethune Cookman ....0
A "C" student from Yale whose father,grandfather, and great grandfather attended Yale, in any field .......gold.
A straight "C" student, first generation immigrant from
Somalia,....rides the back of a Waste Management truck in their Jr. Executive Management program, moves up to the recyclables truck after 10 years, and finally ends up in Landfill Oversight Task Force for 15 years.
The college dropout who invents computer software in his garage ends up worlds second richest man.
BA,BS holders who blog all day ...worthless to themselves as they increase the net worth of the blogsite owner.er the finger with a hearty 'fuck you" and move on to whatever they were doing.
Never forget a good marriage is the cornerstone of our great society.
What scares the heck out of me is the desire that my son have my idea of an ideal marriage.....God help any future daughter-in-law I might have.l
Relationships are work, every day you need to recommit your self and look for the good.
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