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Making Adjustments For New Partners

Dec 20, 2007
Before describing the various marital adjustments that will have to be made by both partners, therefore, it is essential that the partners themselves realize that they differ not only biologically but also psychologically. What God has made distinct, let no man confuse.

Philosophers down through the centuries have pointed out the complementary differences of men and women.

Man... has initiative, power and origin. Woman has intuition, response, acceptance, submission and cooperation. Man lives more in the external world... it is his mission to rule over it and subject it. Woman lives more in the internal world.... Man is more interested in the outer world; woman in the inner world. Man talks about things; woman more about persons. Man fashions the products of the earth; woman fashions life.... Man makes sacrifices for things which are in the future and which are abstract; woman... is more inclined to make sacrifices for persons and for that which is immediate.

Because more objective, man is inclined to give reasons for what he loves and what he does; woman, being more subjective... is more inclined to love just for love's sake. Man's reasons for loving are because of the qualities and attributes of the beloved. Man builds, invents, conquers; woman tends, devotes, interiorize. The man gives; the woman is a gift.

According to Dr. Alphonse Clemens, director of the Marriage Counseling Center of the Catholic University of America, there are some very differing traits of men and women in our culture that should be considered. Without such knowledge marital adjustment is extremely difficult, if not impossible. The various traits of men and women are as follows:

Men

Men prefer generalities. Men are more objective. Men tend to be stern. Men tend to be forceful. Men prefer essentials. Men are more passionate. Men are more materialistic. From comparing these differences it can be said that ideally every woman possesses the psychological qualities for motherhood: a great capacity for generous and unselfish love, a loving attention to details, a strong intuitive sense, tenderness, patience, long-suffering; while every man manifests the qualities required of fatherhood, namely: strength, clear and logical thought, wisdom to command, resolute and determined will, courage. In practical living, however, it is important to remember that few "pure" types of the masculine and feminine traits can be found. It is perhaps more accurate to say that the perfect human being is a composite of both. There are times when a man should know how to be tender, meek, sympathetic, patient, and understanding. And he does not become less a man for so doing. No man is "just like a man."

The same holds true for a woman. No woman is just another member of her mysterious sex. She has personal feminine characteristics similar to those of her sisters, but nevertheless quite different. At times she may and must display some very definite masculine traits.

Marriage, a Discord or Symphony in Relationships

Getting married is one thing, establishing a happy home quite another. A Christian home is not an outright gift of God; it must be built up by the contracting parties themselves, upon the fixed principles of the law of God. No matter how well matched the newlyweds may seem to be, no matter how well they think they know and understand each other, there will be great need for mutual adjustments in every phase of married life. This requires a great amount of sacrifice. The priest reminds the couple of this at the marriage ceremony. "Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy; and perfect love can make

it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete."

Making marriage a symphony of good living takes time. It is not achieved overnight. It sometimes takes 25 hours a day, as newlyweds are soon to discover, because some days are very long. This adjustment to living harmoniously with one another is best made alone, and by the newlyweds themselves. To paraphrase Sacred Scripture, it is good for them to be alone during this period. If they are forced to live with in-laws, there is usually a serious hazard to peace and happiness. Doting parents do the young couple no great favor in offering them an upstairs apartment. It is almost axiomatic that newlyweds do better when away from the prying eyes and free advice of parents or other in-laws.

This is no reflection against in-laws. They may be well intentioned, but studies show that God's command to man to leave father and mother and cleave to his wife is still the best.

Little Things Mean a Lot

The first important duty of newlyweds is to get acquainted. Living under the same roof gives them their first real opportunity to do this. If they are unwilling to make the concessions that are necessary to bring harmony between two dissimilar natures, there is very little chance of success. The emotionally immature person is fundamentally selfish, but unselfishness is a key habit in seeking happiness. Differences will occur, and both partners must make a high resolve to sink their differences. In every case it takes intelligence, character, and time to become an excellent husband or wife. Fortunately nature defers the advent of a child, and in ordinary cases nine to twelve months pass before newlyweds are permitted to become fathers and mothers. This gives time for the mutual adjustments which must be made. Not that adjustments and the need for virtue are exclusively marital characteristics. In every human relationship there must be a harmonious give-and-take between individuals; each must adapt to the other. The same characteristics which make a good child, a good parent, a good employee, a good employer, or a good neighbor will make him or her a good husband or wife.

The big problem in the early days, months, and even years of married life is adjustment. The word "adjustment" comes from two Latin words ad and juste which mean "justice toward." Adjustment, therefore, means full willingness to recognize, accept, and promote the entire personality of one's spouse so that both will be able to bear the burdens and responsibilities of married life. Adjustment also has reference to the couple's acceptance of God's plan for marriage. There is no room for selfishness in His plan. That is why the best marital adjustments are those that are made by unselfish, generous people. Where the "unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guides their every action," a married couple is assured of success.
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