July 18, 2007

Making your marriage work

Marriage today is far more complex than in previous generations,each partner knew what was expected of him or her;roles were defined.If each partner filled those expectations,there was a reasonably good chance that the marriage would endure.Even personality styles were prescribed.Men were supposed to be strong, silent,competent,unemotional,problem-solvers, good providers,handy around the house and protectors.Women were supposed to be good cooks,competent housekeepers, seamstresses,social religious and nurturers.Men and women cut each other a great deal of slack in other areas,so long as each played by the prescribed rules and played their socially defined roles.
With the technological evolution,the women's movement and increased life expectancy came a profound change in these traditional roles.People began to question what they wanted out of marriage.Families relied more upon hired domestic help in the form of housekeepers, caregivers and day care to fulfill many of the customary roles.Marriage began to take on a different meaning and serve a different purpose than was traditionally the case.If we add to this mix the awareness that we simply live longer than in previous generations,it becomes obvious that "until death do us part" means a lot longer than at any time in history.Despite all of these changes, most people enter marriage carrying with them many of the same beliefs appropriate for the previous traditional marriage.Their consciousness has not caught up with the reality of the times.Hence,when they marry they often find that their traditional beliefs are ineffective,leaving them with few guidelines on how to be in a marriage. In order to learn more about how people maintain long-term marriages, and what some of the impediments to them might be, psychologists went out into the field to learn more.Psychologist Dr. Howard Markman at the University of Denver believes that "Love and commitment to the relationship are necessary for a good marriage,but they are not enough.What are needed, on top of that, are skills in effective communication and how to handle conflict." Dr. Markman, along with Dr. Clifford Notarius of Catholic University of of America, studied 135 about-to-be-married couples."How you handle conflict is the single most important predictor of whether your marriage will survive," according to Dr. Markman.These researchers found that certain behavior patterns usually signaled an impending collapse in the marriage:
1.When either partner -- although it is most often the male -- withdraws from conflict.
2.The tendency to escalate conflict in the face of disagreement and the inability to stop fights before they get ugly.
3.The tendency to invalidate the relationship by hurling insults at each other. Dr. Markman says, "one 'zinger' counteracts 20 positive acts of kindness."
You should note that neither Wallerstein nor Markman say that we should avoid conflict.Conflict in marriage is inevitable. How we deal with conflict is the important issue.We must therefore learn how to deal with issues that arise in marriage by:
1.Separate emotionally from one's childhood so as to invest fully in the marriage and, at the same time, to redefine the lines of connection with both families of origin.
2.Build togetherness based on mutual identification, shared intimacy and an expanded conscience that includes both partners, while at the same time setting boundaries to protect each partner's autonomy.
3.Establish a rich and pleasurable sexual relationship and to protect it from the incursions of the workplace and family obligations; it is the second part of this task which must not be overlooked or taken for granted.
4.(For couples with children) Embrace the daunting roles of parenthood and absorb the impact of Her Majesty the Baby's dramatic entrance into the marriage. At the same time the couple must continue the work of protecting their own privacy.
5.Confront and master the inevitable crises of life and maintain the strength of the marital bond in the face of adversity and create a safe haven within the marriage for the expression of difference, anger and conflict.
6.Use humor and laughter to keep things in perspective and to avoid boredom and isolation.
7.Provide nurturance and comfort to each other, satisfying each partner's need for dependency and offer continuing encouragement and support.
8.Keep alive the romantic, idealized images of falling in love, while facing the sober realities of the changes wrought by time.
9. Being able to articulate your thoughts and being certain that the listener understands what you wish to say take considerable practice


ababoypart2 said...

Interesting tips - Just to add to it, run your marriage like a business and you 'may' never go wrong. More seriously, there are tips there that one should follow

catwalq said...

uhm, you wrote this piece yourself?

cinnamonqueen said...

Oh God, you should so read my post from Tuesday aptly titled 'On Marriage'. What a coincidence!

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Vera Ezimora said...

Oh, this piece is great!!!

Anonymous said...

This was copied from this site: http://www.planetpsych.com/zPsychology_101/relationships/making_marriage_work.htm
It is called plagiarism!!