Marriage Before and After the Ceremony

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Marriage Before and After the Ceremony



Mate Selection

No country has done more research on mate selection than the United States. there are some one hundred and fifty titles solely devoted to this one subject. But none of them hold information concrete enough to help the average person make the right selection of a mate or to prevent him from making the wrong one.

It may sound like a blanket condemnation of a whole branch of investigation, but the fact remains that the body of information contained in these one hundred and fifty works is either trite or academic. It either tells you what your common sense would have told you anyway, or it loses its way in a maze of academic jabberwocky like "marital role tension," "R-type factor analysis," "index of marital integration ," "psychological factors in assortative mating," "multiple predictors of marriage happiness," "interpersonal perceptions as a conjugal success factor," "social interactional correlates of marital role disagreement," "need satisfaction and Edwards PPS scores in married couples," "implications of the homogeny -complementary needs theories of mate selection for sociological research," "marital satisfaction and congruent self-spouse concepts," "quantitative analysis of qualitative data in the assessment of motivation: reliability, congruence and validity," or "Does the TAT add information to interviews? Statistical analysis of the increments."

I have not made up these examples. They are taken from the actual titles of the works on my shelf. And though I do not want to dispute the possible scholastic value of some of these works, I bridle against two aspects: the barbaric language in which they are written, and the lack of practical guidance they give. I consider mate selection of such extreme, importance because of two reasons. First, because I believe that divorce causes irreparable damage for both partners and should therefore be avoided. Secondly, because human beings, contrary to the prevalent view, are not changeable in marriage to any large extent. Among all marital problems, the attempt by one of the two partners to reform or change the other partner, to model him or her in the image of one's ideal, is perhaps the most deadly one. We do alter, but we alter gradually and without being aware of it. If anyone tries consciously and deliberately to alter us, everything in us rebels; we mobilize enormous power of resistance; and instead of making changes in ourselves which would be perfectly reasonable, we get to hate the other person who tries to effect them in us.

The choice of partner we make is therefore of the utmost
importancy in the male. No single step in the whole course of one's self-evident, but it isn't. For most of us, believe, at least subconsciously, that if we make a mistake, we can always mend it by either getting divorced or by reforming our partner. Well, we can't. The only person we can reform, once the choice of partner has been made, is our self.

Let me explain this is sexual terms of two adjoining houses inhabitated by a musician and an animal lover. The musician practices all day and gets madly irritated by the dogs barking next door. The man next door is driven nearly out of his mind by the scales and exercises sounding all day from the neighboring house. What shall the neighbors do? Each of them has two choices: either to go to the police and complain, but in that case he must be prepared to give up his own noisemaking. Or to put up uncomplainingly with the other person's noises so that he himself may be left in peace.

You may have your own ideas what the two should do. Barried, there is only one answer, and that is the second one. For ut if you are going to get
saviors of a shaky marriage does not permit the daily calling of the cops. You either accept your mate with all the noises he makes, all the faults she has, or you give your mater the right to criticize you ceaselessly from dusk to dawn. Since women don't want to be pushed and pulled about, they mustn't push or pull their husbands about. Even the mildest criticism of anything the husband does or is must be rigidly avoided if you don't want to encourage him to criticize. There are no two ways about this. There is no such thing as a little criticism, or constructive criticism, or I-only-want-to-help-you criticism. You can't be a little bit pregnant. You either are or you aren't. Nor can you be a little bit critical. You either desist once and for all, right from the start, or you're in unending trouble.

All this has a powerful bearing on mate selection. For the person you're going to live with for the rest of your life (divorce will hurt children so irreparably that you should not even think of it as a possibility) had better be the kind who won't nag at you and also had better be the kind you can bear for the rest of your life without feeling the temptation to nag at. How do you find such a partner?

The Reasons for Practicing Premarital Cohabitation


There is no patent recipe. All I know is live for a while with the man or woman who attracts you and find out if it no other way. The risk of a woman getting pregnant "by surprise" is negligible nowadays, and if she finds that she's picked the wrong man , the kind who will leave once he's had his fun, then she'd better find out about it before she gets married. What men and women must find out before forming a bond that is meant to last for life is not merely whether there is sexual congruity (most of us have had some form of sexual intercourse any way with the person we love before we marry them) but whether there is genuine human affinity between the two of you. I speak of the need to find out how tidy the wife-to-be is, whether the-husband -to-be shaves every morning or only when he goes to work, whether one of the two is an early riser or a night bird (the difference between these two types is so great that it has ruined some marriages that were otherwise well matched) , whether he wants to go out or stay home after work, whether she likes to keep the radio or the television going from duck to dawn or only when there's something worthwhile on the air, whether his respect for women is skin-deep or genuine, whether he helps her in the home or only puts on a show of doing so, whether he makes compliments because someone has told him that it's a way of winning girls or whether he helps her in the home or only puts on a show of doing so, whether he makes compliments because someone has told him that it's a way of winning girls or whether he really likes her enough to say the things he means, whether she likes her enough to say the things he means, whether the two of them share their political views or merely pretend to do so in their courting days (you can never find that out while you have dates: a man or woman on a dates is not identical with the same person at home), whether he is moody or even-tempered, whether he shuts up like a clam when he comes homes from work or talks so much as to drive a woman dizzy. And so on, and so forth. There is no short cut to finding out about those things. You either live with your future spouse or you may find out about it when it's too late.

The alternative to living with a prospective spouse before marriages is divorce. And although I am no Catholic and am a liberal in all my convictions, I share the Catholic view that a marriage, once entered into, should not be broken. I feel this with particular strength of conviction when the partners are no longer in their twenties and when there are children. I will have to say more about this when we come to talk about jealousy, adultery, and divorce. Let me say here merely this: I think that our society makes a grave moral blunder in tolerating divorce and condemning premarital housekeeping. We should certainly make divorce possible, but only under quite exceptional circumstances (such as insanity of one or the other partner); but we should not only tolerate premarital intercourse and premarital housekeeping by a couple in love who genuinely want to stay together; we should support it and make it a socially approved practice. It is the only way to avoid divorce and marital unhappiness of all kinds. Every successful couple I know has done it, not in a spirit of daredevil social experimentation, but because it never occurred to them that there could conceivably be any other way. And in fact there is none.