The secret of attraction is the unconscious hope for healing and understanding. This is why we are so discriminating in our choice of a marital partner. Not just anyone will do. And when we find the right person we become infatuated and fall head over heels for him or her. Our passion and hope for lifetime mate often borderlines on the absurd. Typically, what we see in him or her is really a self-generated fantasy. We are in "la la" land. We unconsciously block out all of their negative characteristics and distort their positives. We imagine them to be loving, caring, intelligent, funny, patient, giving, attractive, interesting, hard-working when in fact they are often very little of all of this. However, and all fairness, in spite of what we think about ourselves, we are also far from this ideal!
The simplest proof that much of what we know about a future mate is "imagined" is demonstrated by the fact that in North America about half of all couples that marry ultimately end up divorced. And of those that remain married, when asked, the majority believe they have chosen the wrong partner. What happens? Why is everybody so disappointed in their mate? Simply, after six months or a year of marriage, when the fantasy bubble pops, then each individual begins seeing his or her partner for whom he or she really is.
One might err in thinking that human beings are totally unsuited for finding appropriate lifetime partners to live together until separated by death. Perhaps we would be more successful if we just roll the dice and let chance determine who our lifetime partner should be. The truth is, however, we are actually very skilled in finding the right partners. Our folly is not knowing what to do when the fantasy bubble pops and problems occur. We often don't know how to properly understand our disappointment and frustration.
To understand ourselves and how during courtship we select a particular person as a mate we must begin by exploring childhood. Childhood is rarely ideal. Most children suffer because of parents who lack appropriate parenting skills or are burdened with their own personal and unresolved problems that negatively impact upon their children. As well, uncontrollable circumstances such as poverty, emigration or illness can negatively affect children. A natural consequence for most children of an imperfect childhood is that some of their basic emotional needs are not completely met. For example, let's consider a boy that is raised by a mother that maintains a position of emotional distance from him as he grows up. As a result, this boy is deprived of the natural emotional support and love that he needs. As a consequence, this boy will grow into adulthood with an emotional deficit. In this particular case what is missing is "emotional intimacy." This deficit will then become a strongly felt "core value." When he is married, he will have expectations that his wife will provide for him that which his mother did not. The irony however is that typically the women he will be most attracted to will remind him of his mother, that is, a woman that is emotionally distant or cold. The reason that he is unconsciously searching for a woman that reminds him of his mother is so that he can reclaim that which he was denied as a child in a form that seems as if he is actually getting it from his mother since his wife reminds him of her. Unconsciously, the debt owed to him by his mother is transferred to his wife. Ironically, he actually picks the most unlikely candidate to give him emotional warmth and closeness since his attracted to somebody that is distant and cold. But she is "like" his mother and he now has a second chance to make-up that which he most missed in childhood. He loves his bride because he hopes and imagines that she will fulfil his emotional needs and thereby he will be healed and become a whole person and then live a happy and content life.
Marital problems usually first begin when there is a realization that a partner is unable or unwilling to give that which is most needed and desired. It is as if the partner is not honouring his or her commitment to meet these deep psychological needs and heal his childhood wounds. The problem in understanding what is really going on is that this complicated psychological process is unconscious for most people and this disappointment is experienced as confusing and undefined feelings. As a result, on a personal level, disappointment, anger and depression often set in. A partner's little daily behaviours can become symbolically irritating and overtime an individual can begin to perceive his or her partner as an "enemy."
However, things can turn out very different if marriage is seen as an opportunity for personal growth. Through emotional and intellectual growth and maturity we can come to understand at some level of consciousness that each person enters into marriage with a hidden agenda. We want to get from our partner all the positive emotional experiences we didn't get as children. We want to heal our childhood wounds and take away the pain that we still now feel as an adult. In order for this to happen our husband or wife has to become more than he or she already is. For example, a wife who is naturally emotionally distant must change her nature and become warm and communicative to her husband who is in need of emotional closeness. In turn, he too must go beyond himself in order to give his wife what she needs. Marriage provides the opportunity for tremendous emotional and spiritual growth. This great "medicine" can only happen within the marital context. Both individuals in the marriage have the opportunity to grow and heal. When this happens, the result is a happy and satisfying marriage.
We can help actualize this beautiful potential for growth and wholeness by making our unconscious needs conscious, i.e., by identifying our core emotional values and needs. Marital bliss is created when both partners make a concerted effort, as a team, to provide each other with emotional and psychological nurturing and healing.
When a couple is experiencing marital difficulties, rather than making a partner into an "enemy," it should be viewed as an opportunity for personal growth and a clear signal to work hard on establishing marital peace and harmony. With effort overtime success will come.
Abe Kass, M.A., R.S.W., R.M.F.T., is the publisher of Wisdom Scientific self-help educational programs. Abe is also a registered Social Worker,
registered Marriage and Family Therapist, certified hypnotherapist and award winning educator. He concluded, after many years of clinical practice and research, that practical solutions requiring a focussed effort of no more than a
few minutes a day for very specific personal and relationship problem were critically needed. Wisdom Scientific publishing house has been created to fill this need. For more information or a free e-bulletin visit,http://www.WisdomScientific.com