GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

March 29, 2013

Personal Matters: Steps to sustaining a marriage

This week, the Supreme Court is adjudicating the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

So, I thought that, since the institution of marriage is so powerful a force in our culture, it might be appropriate to re-visit the issue of cultivating and sustaining any marriage, whether it be same or opposite sex coupleship.

It seems that in our society we seem to be the least creative about the things we claim to care about most — our health care (although the Affordable Care Act seems to be spawning new, group approaches to individual care), quality education for all our children and the most personal and powerful foundation of our lives — family, and its core, marriage or life partnership.

Although we find new and novel ways to entertain ourselves, to make a living and to communicate using a myriad of technological gadgets, it seems to me, that on a daily basis we give little attention and energy to one of our most socially important institutions: marriage/coupleship.

Many social scientists agree that one of the primary causes of violence and dysfunction in our society is the breakdown of its most basic component — the family and its source, the relationship of the two people who create it.

Perhaps if we could re-examine and recreate marriage so that it meets the real needs of its participants we would see more emotionally viable families.

So, how do we begin?

By Becoming Emotionally Healthy Individuals: We must learn to value ourselves and honor our individual needs. We need to heal childhood wounds and take appropriate action to solve our current problems. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and judging ourselves harshly. We need to view life as an ongoing learning and growing experience.

By Re-examining the Language of Marriage: For some, the words “husband and wife” have meanings that can bring out inappropriate behaviors. For instance, a woman may feel that she should be taken care of by her spouse if her unconscious definition of a husband is “caretaker” or “father.” A man may unconsciously assume that his wife will be a cook and homemaker, even though she has no inclination toward that role.

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