|Future of Psychotherapy Mary Jo Barrett William Doherty Gender Issues Brain Science Anxiety Clinical Excellence Wendy Behary Linda Bacon Clinical Mastery CE Comments Attachment Theory Alan Sroufe David Schnarch Couples Therapy Trauma Etienne Wenger Mind/Body Community of Excellence Attachment Men in Therapy Couples Symposium 2012 Ethics Challenging Cases Narcissistic Clients Mindfulness Great Attachment Debate The Future of Psychotherapy Diets|
|The Three Marriages - Three Marriages 1|
Our attempts to make a successful marriage as adults often depend on the image we carry of marriage from our childhood. Inhabited by two wise and benevolent gods, marriage can be a paradise for children, a seedbed, a garden; a safe cradle for the seasons of their coming and going, and subsequently, an unconscious anchor for their going out in the world. But at its worst, inhabited by angry, unhappy or absent gods, it can be a lonely, constant battleground, a weed-strewn plot, an underworld where things seem to come only to die. Most often it is both, with the weather of life blowing through according to outward circumstances and to the trials and difficulties of married life but also the extent to which children may make life difficult for the ones who brought them to birth.
Many a marriage grinds onto the rocks of parenthood with a shock that was never quite anticipated when both parents were happily thinking of names for the newly arriving child. Many free themselves again and rise with the tide of a new arrangement of their love, but many also struggle to find the ability to think of themselves as a couple again, their past romantic desires lost in the labors and logistics of parenthood.
Arriving in the middle of all this, children experience up close and in parallel, often without speaking, all the affections and exiles of their parents' marriage and become not only a close and unconscious student of their relationship, but a sobering mirror of marital happiness and unhappiness from the moment they are toddling around the kitchen, distinguishing right from scolded wrong. The lessons of marriage are read very early into the textbook of a child's mind.
Even in their unhappiness, children who grow up within a bad marriage are alert to other happier marriages in the world; like a moth to the flame the young imagination flutters toward happier families in neighboring houses or to ones that exist only on the television screen, as if, in that constant looking, the search for a happy human partnership were entwined deeply in the human genetic code. A young but unhappy child almost always has an instinctive sense of the kind of family he would like to have been born into. Our myths and fairy stories are full of infants led out into the forest to die, being found and adopted, and as the story unfolds, restored to their rightful parentage.
The internal pictures of marriage we carry into adulthood often represent the need to return to this rightful parentage. The instinctive human approach to the word marriage always includes our own biography. I do remember as a young, newly married man in my twenties, feeling an urgent necessity to create a marriage and a form of parenting that would set all wrongs to rights and fill each of the gaps I felt so keenly from my own growing. With maturity and a truer sense of my own sins, I find myself with an almost opposite perspective, trying to live up to the example of self-sacrifice that I now see my parents endured in order to provide for their son and daughters and see us right in the world. But the original instincts seem to be a necessary blindness for each generation.