By our fifth session, Tara’s voice has changed. She is talking more slowly. There is a noticeable calm about her.
“Tell me about Matt’s parents,” I begin.
“They have been married for 38 years. But, their marriage is weird,” Tina replies.
“They don’t seem happy. They never hug or kiss. They are more like roommates than lovers,” Tara says.
“How does Matt feel about that?”
“I think it makes him doubt the institution of marriage altogether,” Tara replies. “Honestly, Matt’s Dad has an anger problem. Matt’s mother checked out of her marriage and made Matt her mini-husband instead.”
“What about your parents? Is their marriage healthier?” I ask.
“My parents have a different type of dysfunction.”
“My Mom went to Yale—quite an accomplishment for a woman of that generation. But, she got married, had children and never worked.”
“Do you think she is happy about that decision?”
Tara laughed. “No. My Mom is angry. She would have been much more successful than my father--if she hadn’t been saddled by domestic responsibility.”
“What about your Dad?”
“He’s a good guy. But, he’s emotionally removed. My Mom seems really lonely in her marriage,” Tara replied. “My Dad was always traveling on business. When he was home, he was either playing golf or watching television. They never do anything fun together.”
Many of my clients do not want to repeat their parents’ mistakes.
In prior generations, men and women married early—before they had an opportunity to know themselves. They may have picked incompatible partners, but remained married out of a sense of obligation and duty. Children witnessed partnerships that lacked true intimacy.
Through my business, School of Love NYC (www.schooloflovenyc.com), I teach my clients the importance of a psychological process called “individuation.” Once they understand the good and bad traits of their family of origin, they make healthy choices that may be a dramatic departure from what they learned growing up. These clients become their authentic selves, setting a healthy course for future generations.
Each generation has an obligation to do better than the one that came before.
My clients yearn for an expanded conception of traditional gender roles. Women want the freedom to succeed intellectually and professionally. Men want to learn how to be more attentive and empathetic as lovers, partners and parents.
Women and men are moving towards a new conception of partnership—one in which all work is valued and shared equally. As partners share work, it is halved. A new type of partnership is emerging—one based on equality—which leaves more time for fun, laughter and sex.
Why is it important to know yourself before choosing a marital partner?
What does this statement mean: “Each generation has an obligation to do better than the one that came before.”
How do traditional gender roles cause problems within a marriage?