From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Marriage: What’s the point?

I recently attended a friend’s wedding in Lexington, Kentucky. There in the heart of bluegrass country, a new tribe assembled consisting of the groom’s family, the bride’s Mother and step-Father, and the bride’s Father and step-Mother. Both friends and relatives excitedly anticipated the wedding which would be officiated by both a Rabbi and a Catholic Priest.

At first, there were several awkward moments in the crowd. There was the usual nervousness as the bride’s friends and family met the groom’s friends and family. Within families, there was a little "old" tension related to a family reunion where parents had divorced and remarried. And between families, there was a little "new" tension related to the interfaith marriage and growing religious diversity within the family. Yet, it was clear that the group as a whole shared a common love for these two young people and we greeted the weekend with joyful enthusiasm for their new life together.

Our task was easy... enjoy the wedding. Watching the two lovebirds, however, I could not help but think of the many challenges ahead for them. Here are a few more thoughts on that matter.

Similarly, marriages function best when spouses share a common understanding of the rules, and when spouses agree to adhere to their own rules of fair play. Problems arise when one partner decides unilaterally to change or "bend" the rules. This is the beginning of a "double standard" which suggests that spouses are expected to adhere to different rules of conduct.

Marriage offers the opportunity to learn all kinds of skills for improving communication, affection, sexual expression, consensus-building, decision-making, conflict management, division of labor, parenting and team-building. The task of each new generation is to improve upon the previous generation and pass along the best of what we have learned. There is no single guide to right and wrong. In order to achieve satisfaction, couples must build their own unique marriage and family. This is an evolutionary process which just begins at the wedding. A new branch of the family tree has begun to grow.

©Copyright, 2001, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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