By Jimmy Cox
Many of our greatest problems arise from the fact that people insist upon doing what is contrary to their own self interest. This is true even in marriage. However, there are several questions you should consider to ensure that you remain happy and healthy throughout your marriage.
Poor choices in marriage result not only from bad judgment, or the deceitfulness of glamour and romance. They also can express distress of the personality. We can see this distress fairly clearly in marriage ‘on the rebound.’ We understand that a jilted person wants to bolster up his pride and ‘show’ his friends. Therefore he may marry a person whom he would not consider seriously, if he were not under serious emotional stress.
Less easily recognized is the marriage which is entered into to ‘get even’ with someone, usually one’s parents. Children often grow up with strong feelings of resentment against their parents. Such feelings may lead them to select unsuitable marriage partners because the parents will strongly object. Thus the daughter of a conservative but domineering millionaire marries a Communist. The minister’s son who has come to hate his father, marries an avowed atheist. Children of prim, respectable families marry characters who are questionable. Such bases for selection are understandable, but hardly sound.
A lack of mental health may show itself in the emotional inability of people who want to and could marry, to do so. George has been engaged three times to three different girls. Each time the same thing happened. As the date for the wedding approached, he found that he could not go through with it. He had nothing against any of the girls. It was marriage that he feared. George has some deep emotional difficulty which only a psychiatrist could likely correct. But his “instinct” is sound. He is not ready to marry.
Marriage is a vocation which calls for careful training. Whether or not you get this training will depend in part upon your emotional attitudes. When she first married, Ruth could not keep within shouting distance of her budget. She had little idea of what, where, and how to buy, and often paid much too much. She did not know how to cook, and ruined too much of the food she bought, including some expensive steaks. But Ruth was able and willing to learn. She read books and studied buying guides.
When a couple first marry they often lack important skills, not only in buying and cooking, but in social graces, sexual adjustments and tending the furnace. These lacks may prove distressing. They need not be serious, provided you are willing to do what is necessary to overcome them. This willingness is largely a matter of psychological maturity
You have both come emotionally, as well as physically from your parents. While you were growing up as children your ideas of right and wrong, and your political and religious opinions came largely from them. Even in your feelings you often reflected their feelings. For many years you were Poppa’s girl, or perhaps Momma’s boy.
Your emotional weaning from your parents did not come all at once. It had to come gradually. The first step was often the shift of interest from your parents to someone like your parents.
The girl of twenty who wants to marry the man of forty-five may actually be marrying not a husband, but a kind of father. Until a person has become mature enough to be weaned from his or her own parents so completely as to need no substitute, he is not ready for marriage. A second danger is that in a few years the younger person may grow up. If this happens, the girl may find that she no longer wants a father, but a real husband who is not the man to whom she is married
Mental health is by no means the only important essential for success in marriage. But of all the factors, it is probably the most important. For it is the foundation of so many other essentials. To be sure, the foundation is not all there is to the house. But unless this is right, nothing else can be.