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When Getting Married Threatens a Great Relationship

Aug 17, 2007
Often, getting married leads couples who have been living together happily for years into so much unhappiness that they choose to end their relationships.

The act of getting married is essentially turning on an automatic program that says what you and your spouse must do when you get married. This program isn't rational - it's built upon thousands of impressions recorded long before your mind was developed enough to think rationally.

It's a program you internalized by watching your own parents. As you observed them, you created the categories of what husbands do and what wives do. Later you were exposed TV, movies and eventually school. This showed you more about what husbands and wives are supposed to do in a family.

You might have watched the Bill Cosby show and other popular TV shows of 30 years ago. If you learned to read with Dick and Jane you learned that father goes to work and mother stays home and takes care of children. You learned that married people have children, a program that now comes into play even if you've been committed to remaining childless. Forgotten impulses that were previously programmed come alive again.

Unconsciously you try to make your partner into your image of what an ideal husband or wife should be. Of course your partner's program has also been activated. Your partner's images of what an ideal husband or wife should be may be radically different from yours.

If one of you learned that wives are leaders and guides to husbands and the other learned the opposite, that husbands do the guiding, you are set up to clash about whose model is right. The power struggle comes on with a vengeance.

When you were just living together there were no rules, so you had the opportunity to create your relationship the way you wanted to be. Now, even if you totally disagree with your own programming, you may be startled by the strong impulses you have to follow it

The solution is not to avoid marriage, it's to each become aware of your own programming. You need to discuss this programming and then decide whether you wish to follow it or to change it.

If you decide to change it, you can then decide to create your marriage just as you decided how you wanted to create your relationship when you were living together. Remember, that's the relationship that worked so well that it made you want to marry each other and make a lifetime commitment.

The old programming will not disappear, but each time it comes up you can learn to recognize and appreciated for what it is. And then choose again how you want to create your relationship together.
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