Marriage and its consequences
The importance of a marriage ceremony not only for a young couple, but for the whole family is becoming more obvious as more and more young people refuse this ceremony. Rituals that may seem superfluous to young people can be important dividing signs of stages that help all participants make the transition to new ways of their relationship. In most cultures, ceremonies that accompany birth, puberty, marriage, and death are protected because they are considered essential in stabilizing life.
Whatever the relationship of the couple during the courtship period preceding the marriage, the marriage ceremony unpredictably changes the nature of this relationship. For many couples, the “honeymoon” and their time together before children are born is full of charm. For others, this is not the case; they may experience overwhelming stress that breaks up a marriage or causes individuals to experience symptoms at the very beginning.
Many marriages are upset from the very beginning because of their very purpose. If, for example, young people marry primarily to escape their family, then as soon as they are married, the very reason for their marriage may have disappeared. They had escaped, but they had entered into a marriage that had no other purpose, and if this marriage was to continue, a different basis must be found for it. The illusion of what a marriage should be is often far from what it really looks like.
Although the symbolic act of marriage has its own special meaning for everyone, it is primarily an agreement that binds young people to each other for life. In our time, when divorce is so easy, you can marry with reservations, considering it as a trial relationship. But because this is an agreement, young people find themselves reacting to each other in new ways. Sometimes they feel trapped and start acting out resentment, quarreling with each other about authority; or they believe that they are free to “be themselves” and behave in unexpected ways towards their spouses. Marriage frees them from mutual restraint, this approach to unlimited intimacy may be desirable, but it may be scary. Many conservative young people still postpone sexual relations until marriage, and different perceptions of this adventure, as well as the exaggerated expectations associated with it, can cause frustration and confusion.
When a young couple begins life together, they must work out a series of agreements that are necessary for any couple living in an intimate relationship. They must agree on how to deal with their parents ‘ families, with their peers, on the practical aspects of living together, and on all the small and large differences between them as between two individuals. They must resolve, explicitly or implicitly, a great many questions that could not always have been foreseen before marriage: who will decide where they will live; what will be the influence of the wife on the husband’s career; whether each of them will be allowed to judge the other’s friends; whether the wife will work, or stay at home; and hundreds of other questions – even so trivial at first glance, such as who and to whom will choose clothes. Their information about marriage and their actual experience are two different kinds of knowledge.
As new relationships are established with each other, young spouses must also develop ways to resolve differences. In this early period, they often avoid open arguments and criticism, due to the benevolent atmosphere of the new marriage, and for fear of hurting each other’s feelings. But over time, the areas of disagreement that they avoid become wider, and they find themselves constantly on the verge of a quarrel, surprisingly irritating each other. Sometimes non-negotiable issues are embedded in a marriage. More often it happens that one of the spouses raises a not very important controversial issue, the second repays him in the same way, and there is an open struggle in which objects previously mentioned only in an indirect form come to the surface. Often such a struggle frightens the couple because it causes unexpected emotions, and they vow never to quarrel again. But gradually the non-negotiable questions pile up again until there is another outbreak and another fight. During this process, they develop ways to resolve differences and settle various cases. Sometimes even these decisions are unsatisfactory, which leads to increasing discontent that manifests itself at a later stage of the marriage. For example, spouses find that contradictions can only be resolved in such a way that one of the partners concedes more to the other than they think is right. In this early period, husbands and wives learn to manipulate weakness and illness, and learn to take advantage of strength.
Newlyweds ‘decisions are influenced not only by what they have learned in their parents’ families, but also by the current relationship that binds them to their parents, which is an unavoidable aspect of marriage. Individually, young people must make the transition from previous dependence to independence from their parents, and as adults they must be treated differently.
The decisions of the bride and groom, it is not easy to separate from parental influence. For example, the views of parents influence the position of the wife – whether she will work or not – and the choice of residence of the young couple. Young people should secure a territory that is somewhat independent of the influence of their parents, and parents, in turn, should change their views on the treatment of children after their marriage. Excessive benevolent help can be just as harmful to young people as non-constructive criticism. If the parents continue to provide financial support to the newlyweds, they implicitly bargain for the right to dictate to them in return for this support a particular way of life. When money is given, it can be both useful and harmful, and questions arise: should I give it in cash or as gifts, give it to my husband, or my wife,or both? Do I give money without reservation, or with the implied criticism that this should not be necessary? As a result of this or that parental intervention, a split can be introduced into the new family, and often without any understanding of what causes bad feelings. If a young family comes into conflict with relatives, this can lead to symptoms. For example, a wife whose husband does not know how to prevent his mother’s intrusion into family Affairs may develop symptoms: for her, this is one of the ways to cope with such a situation.
Some married couples try to make their territory completely independent by cutting themselves off from all relatives. Usually this does not lead to success and can undermine marriage, because the art of marriage involves achieving independence while maintaining an emotional connection with relatives.