Our Unconscious Marriage…
In thinking about marriage; most minds shift to dresses, suits, cakes, churches, families, celebrations and money! Probably rarely do we think about what is actually taking place in the mate selection process and how significant that process is to a happy successful marriage. It is important to recognize that when we are selecting a partner – we are selecting someone who we feel compliments some area of our life. We are selecting someone who perhaps fills a void that may exist in our life. Regardless of the reason; we would be naive to think that this is a completely conscious process. In fact, Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. in his New York Times Bestseller, Keeping The Love You Find, emphasizes throughout his book the impact of our unconscious drives as it relates to mate selection.
“Our free choice of a mate is, in the end, a product of our unconscious, which has an agenda of its own. And what the unconscious wants is to become whole and heal the wounds of childhood. To this end, it is carrying around its own detailed picture of a proper match, searching not for the right stats, but for the right chemistry. And what is that chemistry? Nothing more than our unconscious attraction to someone who we feel will meet our particular emotional need.”
So what is all that saying. Well, it is saying that regardless of what we tell ourselves about what we want and look for in a partner; our unconscious drives is what ultimately determines who we end up with (who we select). Have you ever wondered how you continue to attract the same type of person, or why he/she reminds you of your father/mother, or why something your partner does solicits a reaction that does not always seem commensurate with the initial behavior? If you are able to say yes to either one, or all, of these examples; then you have gained insight into how our unconscious influences our mate selection and relationships.
So what does all of this mean? Well, I like to think it means that in order to have a successful relationship, we may need to focus less on what our partner is bringing to us and more on what we are bringing to the relationship. What unresolved feelings from our childhood still shapes our relationships, what unconscious influences might our parents still have on our decisions about marriage, and/or what comforts have we yet to experience (deficits) that drive our need to fill that particular gap. Having this internal dialogue or acknowledging these sometimes “not so comfortable” themes exist in our lives does not mean that one is not ready for marriage. As a matter of fact, it is my belief that when one is honest about these drives and motivations can they begin to truly prepare for the journey that marriage brings. This is the person that will be more fulfilled by the marital experience and less frustrated, caught off guard, or discouraged by it. This is the person whose self awareness will not only compliment their marital experience; but also facilitate a healthy marital relationship.
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