Marriage Before and After the Ceremony

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1: SEXUAL ATTRACTION AND REPULSION

2: MATE SELECTION

3: LOVE

4: MARRIAGE

5: FAMILY PLANNING

6: CHILDREN

Marriage Before and After the Ceremony

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Money

Now let's stay a moment longer on the issue of money. If the wife is not working, she should get a regular allowance from her husband, quite apart from the household money he gives her. It's his privilege to find out how she spends the latter, but not how she spends the former. If he is wise, and if she isn't a spendthrift, he won't make use of his privilege of checking up on the household account. But if he does want to check up on it, the wife's love affair should not be angry with him. He earns the money. He must know where it goes.

The situation changes basically when both earn a separate living. In that case both have equal rights and equal duties. That is, either you put your money into a joint account, and then both must have the right to draw on it, or each keeps his own money and contributes a specified amount to the household. That amount should consist of the same proportion of each person's total earnings. Under these circumstances, needless to say, both should share the housework. If paid household help is being used, the expenses for it must be shared.

Here is a highly unconventional warning by American standards: Women, don't marry a man whose main interest is directed toward making money. Some men can combine devotion to their job with devotion to their family. Artists can, for instance, because they frequently work at home. So can physicians, lawyers, university teachers, school teachers -almost all professional people. But men whose minds operate in the tit-for-tat mentality make poor husbands, that marriage is giving without any hope of receiving anything in return-is wholly alien to them. It seems like bad business. It sounds stupid. The man who does that kind of thing is a sucker. The love between a child and a rattle is something else than the love between adult human beings. What you have loved in your spouse till now, till you have known your mate (I am using the word in the biblical sense), was no more than what the infant loves in his rattle. It was an infantile kind of love. Only now begins the love of adults. Or at least now. with marriage can it begin.

Marital Arguments

The first thing you will do when you're married is quarrel. This sounds discouraging, but I should be guiding you poorly if I concealed from you that it nearly always happens. Even the best matched couples, the happiest ones, start by quarreling. Wives find that their husbands won't run the house the way their fathers did. Husbands can't help reacting the same way towards wives. He'll judge her by the way his mother daughter relationships did things, and it makes no difference at all whether he liked his mother or not. If she used to boss him, he'll be extra sensitive to being bossed. If she used to fuss over him, he'll be extra sensitive to being fussed over. If she grilled a steak particularly well, he'll be irritated if his wife doesn't do it just as well. If she kept her house particularly clean and tidy, he'll be annoyed if his wife doesn't. Whatever we liked or disliked in our parents, we take out on our marital partners.

There is one good way to keep on an even keel during these early months of marital trial, and that is to remind yourself constantly that everything your partner does wrongly is your fault. You married that person. If you hadn't, your mate would still have the same faults, but they wouldn't concern you. Remember the old vaudeville line: "Don't complain about your husband's taste-look whom he married!" It applies equally well to both sexes.

Marriage is not a love affair of perpetual brides and bride- grooms, trailing honeymoon veils through six decades of wedded life. If you go into marriage with the determination "Now I'm gonna show who's boss," you're in trouble. Yet the husband may have a more valid reason to start marriage that way. For if he married anything like the conventional American girl who has been stringing him along with hot-petting-but-never-the-limit, he'll be so livid with her (whatever else he may say) that the whole of his marriage will inevitably become an act of vengeance for the frustrations imposed on him during the premarital months. It makes no difference at all whether he says that he appreciates her twice as much because of her purity, chastity, modesty, or what have you: it is simply impossible for a male to prevent his frustration from breaking out sooner or later. And usually, unless she's been intimate with him before, it breaks out the moment the honeymoon is over.

Each partner's unwillingness to suspend his desire for domination, paired with his firm conviction that it is not he but the other one who is unwilling to compromise, leads in most American marriages to a state where the cause of the failure becomes after some years the compensatory device to permit both partners the maintenance of their self-respect and the perpetuation of the very qualities which prevented the marriage from succeeding in the first instance.

This is the way Margaret Mead described a typical American family situation many years ago: Both of you think you're right. Both of you are wrong. For marriage is neither a battle of wits nor a test of strength. It is an attempt by two people to make each other happy. If you fail to recognize this at the start and act accordingly, you may ruin your sexual life--and that of your mate and your kids as well.

You will end up with a divided household. The wife will be running the home, the kids, and her own social life. The husband will run the business and his social life. And never the twain shall meet. Each partner, instead of trying to understand the other, withdraws into his own sphere of domination. Marriage thus becomes a device for the perpetuation of mutual contempt. Such marriages consist of little more than the joint housekeeping of a man and a woman who have in fact separated emotionally.


Thirteen Points of Marital Stress



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