Needs of marriage and family living

Needs of marriage and family living have to be considered in relation to the times in which they are observed. They are determined by cultural attitudes as well as by world events. They often reflect the conflict between former established family patterns geared to an earlier economy and the needs of today's rapidly changing social scene. The transition from an established, to a new and as yet untried, value system constitutes one of the most important challenges that marriage faces today.

In this century, revolutionary discoveries and global interaction have had a terrific impact on our lives. The social aspects of the business cycle, which used to concern us so much, seem almost trivial when compared to two world wars, the cold war, the draft, and prodigious advances in science and technology. Modern technology has invaded not only the factory but also the home, and many skills required of husbands and wives are quite different from those learned in their parental homes. Furthermore, the division of labor between men and women is no longer so clearly marked. It is much more blurred, workwise and homewise.

Urbanization in all its forms has been another important factor in changing family life. Tremendous progress in communication and transportation has taken place. This has had its impact not only at the level of world diplomacy but in terms of a teen-ager's "date." We have become an urban-industrial people, the majority living in cities, many of us in small apartshy; ments. We are highly mobile. Our families are smaller -- not only in terms of fewer children but, although there are proportionately more oldsters, there are fewer grandparents living with us.

It would be comforting to think of marriage as a haven to which one could retreat from the strain and conflict of daily living. But contemporary marriage is not a thing apart. It is a way of life within which we must cope with the uncertainties and complexities of the Atomic Age.

Specifically, changes in age of marriage, size of completed family, and length of life have greatly affected patterns of family formation and have introduced complicated problems of personal as well as family development.

There has also been an increase in life expectancy, a remarkable achievement of the medical and related sciences. The marriage of persons who today marry in their twenties is statistically capable of lasting forty-one years. Two generations ago, because of later marriage, more children and earlier death, there was a fifty-fifty chance that one spouse would die at least two years before the last of five children married. Today when one's two or three children leave home for college, career, or marriage, one-third of one's married life (fourteen years on the average) is still ahead.

Sexually, too, women have come into their own. No longer is sex for women a taboo subject, or an experience to be only "dutifully" accepted. Today, women have begun to realize their capacity to enjoy sex and respond to it under circumstances of their own choice. The potential for enrichment of the marital relationship is great; but it is not without its problems in a society where there is still a considerable lag between conventional patterns of conduct and the newer and more flexible attitudes.

Importance of Relationship in Counseling

The relationship between counselor and client, or therapist and patient, is coming to be recognized in this country as central in the counseling or therapeutic process. Different schools or systems of therapy and counseling may evaluate it differently, but all recognize its importance and some deem it basic in the results obtained.

The relationship between counselor and client should not be confused with such concepts as transference or rapport. Thus the term "transference," as used in Freudian technique, refers to displacement of the libido from its infantile love-objects (usually one's parents) to the psychoanalyst in the course of psychoanalytic treatment. This redirection of desires and feelings which are usually retained in the unconscious, may be positive, if they are warm, friendly, and affectionate, or negative if they are unfriendly or hostile.

"Rapport" is a more general term referring to the positive, co-operative association of two persons which makes possible a confidential, sympathetic, understanding, and helpful process in counseling and therapy. "Relationship" as used here refers to the interaction between counselor and counselee which becomes a motivating force in the changes and growth which take place in the counseling procedure.

In marriage counseling there is a multidimensional "relationship," that is, the relationship of the counselor to the marriage partners, individually and collectively, and, where necessary, to the children and the family as a "unity of interacting personalities," as well as to the new and developing relationship between the spouses to each other and to the family as a whole. The counselor needs to keep this manyfaceted relationship constantly in mind in order to stimulate its development to its fullest potentialities and to utilize it for the growth of the personalities involved.

Psychotherapy and Counseling

Counseling, in this sense, is also closely related to psychotherapy. Psychotherapy may be considered the more generally inclusive in terms of personality reorganization; marriage counseling, the more specific procedure in its focus on the interpersonal relations between men and women concerned in the marriage. We shall approach the more specialized interest of this chapter -marriage counseling -- through a brief discussion of the more general aspects of psychotherapy and counseling.

There are as many conceptions and definitions of psychotherapy as there are schools -- one might almost say, individual psychotherapists. A recent and "comprehensive" definition of psychotherapy has it as "a form of treatment for problems of an emotional nature in which a trained person deliberately establishes a professional relationship with a patient with the object of removing, modifying, or retarding existing symptoms, of mediating disturbed patterns of behavior, and of promoting positive personality growth and development." According to Wolberg, there are three major types of psychotherapy: supportive psychotherapy, insight therapy with re-educative goals, insight therapy with reconstructive goals.

Regardless of what one may think of the suitability and applicability of the varying methods and techniques of therapists from different schools of thought to their goals and objectives, several things become clear. First, that the different types of psychotherapy are not necessarily mutually exclusive as to either goals or methods; second, that whereas the goals and objectives are relatively few, the theoretical framework, the methods, techniques, and procedures are many and in some instances substantially different from each other; and third, that in a field where there are such wide divergencies of practice there is room for, and in fact bound to develop, a wide variety of schools of thought aiming at the crystallization and formulation of philosophies. These schools of thought will furnish a so-called theoretical basis for practice and will confer upon the practitioner the sanction of authoritativeness because of belonging or adhering to the particular school or system.

Some thoughtful therapists are both puzzled and challenged by the divergent or diametrically different schools and theories of human behavior and motivation underlying psychotherapy, especially when all the schools claim success in treating maladjustment. They can only conclude that none of the schools has the whole truth and that the dynamic elements responsible for the success claimed by all the schools may be the features common to all of them. Hence they proceed to select out what appear to them to be those elements which are common to all psychotherapeutic situations. In spite of criticism, eclecticism is not without merit or justification.

Two of these elements seem to be of special importance to marriage counseling and deserve discussion at this point. They are the "relationship" between the counselor and counselee, and the counselor's concept of "personality."

Marriage Counseling

Counseling is a generic term and much of what will be said here about marriage counseling will apply in equal measure to other forms of counseling. All counseling aims, at least theoretically, at developing insight into the nature of the problem and the causes or factors which produced it; and endeavors to give the counselee support, encouragement, reassurance, and new perspectives so that he may look upon himself as but one of many who face or have faced similar problems which can be solved under favorable circumstances. To some extent also all types of counseling use similar means to achieve their ends even though they may be quite different in their fundamental and basic theoretical approaches. At one time or another every counselor is called upon to give advice, information, and guidance.

Some will use these devices only as a last resort. Others will utilize these methods more freely because they feel that the counselee wants, needs, and is entitled to more direct and immediate help. They believe, moreover, that unless the counselee does get such help he will become discouraged and will discontinue the counseling. The damage to the counselee from discontinuance when he needs counseling, they feel, is bound to be much more injurious than giving such direct help.

Battle of the sexes?

Every marriage involves at least two individuals. Its success, therefore, depends upon more than the situations which surround it or even the separate personalities which compose it. There is the matter of mate combination and personal interaction. Not only do men and women need to be personally prepared and socially oriented to be most happy in their marriages, they also need to be well matched and to understand themselves and the opposite sex, each in relation to the other.

Must there always be a "battle of the sexes"? We think not. Though different in some ways, men and women are nevertheless very much alike. They both belong to the same human species, perform the same body functions, are broadly motivated by the same sort of things, and live generally the same kind of lives. Though physiological differences may mean that complete understanding of the other will not be possible, better understanding is both possible and desirable. Males and females are complementary to each other; antagonisms, where they exist, are learned, not natural. There is need for some "unlearning" on the part of many, followed by a "relearning" in the direction of greater understanding and cooperation.

Individuals are born male or female, but learn to become masculine or feminine. It is the biological factors in sexual differentiation that have been our concern up to the present. We have seen that sex is determined almost entirely by nature; that man's control in this regard is extremely limited (though by birth control, death control, migration, and the like he can exercise some influence over the sex ratio). We have also seen that sex is a relative term, that everyone is to a small extent both male and female, and that people vary greatly in degree as well as in direction of their sexual development. What we have not fully recognized as yet is that sexuality is more than biology, that it takes more than the genes and the hormones to explain why men and women behave as they do. Masculinization and feminization are parts of the larger learning process called socialization, discussed in Chapter 3. Through exposure to society, individuals in varying degrees learn how to curb their natural impulses and to assume the roles of men and women that their culture prescribes.

Thus, little girls are encouraged to play with dolls and discouraged from being rough or aggressive. They imitate their mothers by playing house. In time they learn how to sit properly, and they learn that there are certain rules of conduct for being 'ladylike." Boys, on the other hand, find themselves teased when they play with their sisters' things, but approved by all when they act "like a man." They therefore tend to identify themselves with the father's role and to assume the attitudes and the mannerisms that go with it. In this way boys and girls become men and women according to the established patterns around them. A female infant isn't any more frightened by a mouse than is a male, for example, but she stands a better chance of learning this somewhat typical feminine response as time goes on. Imitation of that which is made to seem attractive or proper, together with pressure in the direction of social expectation, incline children to the masculine and feminine roles. Culture is changing, however, and today there is less difference between the roles expected of boys and girls than formerly.

A sexual division of labor is to be found in every society. Generally speaking, man has handled the governing function, warfare, and economic production outside the home, while woman has kept busy preparing meals, fixing clothing, taking care of children, and the like. Division of labor, in other words, has mainly followed the biological lines of cleavage between the sexes--man taking up those pursuits that are most compatible with his superior physical strength and woman keeping to those activities that are closely associated with her childbearing function. Though the basic roles of men and women are thus related to biological differences, they are nevertheless cultural in nature and are highly variable from society to society and from time to time. Women are expected to be rather submissive in most societies, for example; though in some they are aggressive, and this aggressiveness is accepted. The modern American female is more open and less inhibited than was her grandmother. But whatever the culture, men and women will be molded to conform.

Reasons why some people should not marry

There are good reasons why some people should not marry. Every right carries with it an equal responsibility, and marriage is no exception. For those who are either mentally or physically incapacitated, marriage would be both foolish and unkind, for it would force them to assume adult roles that they are totally incapable of handling. Consider the lowest grade of feeble-minded individuals, for example, those who are not even able to take care of themselves or to assume the most elementary responsibilities. Mentally, they are as infants, and there is no hope of their ever becoming self-sustaining. Consider the violently and permanently insane or extreme cases of chronic invalidism. Where persons like this can recover, marriage should be held as a real possibility; but it should wait upon recovery. For those either immature, or morally or socially inadequate, marriage should be delayed until there has been time for development and/or reform to take place. Unless ready and able to assume the necessary responsibilities, no one should marry.

The low-grade feeble-minded cannot be permitted either marriage or parenthood for the reason that they are custodial cases, unable to take care of their own needs, let alone those of a family. These are usually kept in institutions. They are incapable of responsible marriage even where their condition is known to be nongenetic.

Certain persons should probably be denied parenthood, though permitted marriage. These are those known to be defective in hereditary capacity, though themselves capable of a reasonable amount of self-support and social adjustment. High-grade feeble-minded individuals probably fall into this category. They should be denied parenthood for at least two reasons: (1) so that they will not pass on their defects to future generations, and (2) so that they will not give birth to children they cannot support--their lesser ability making them incapable of that much responsibility.

There is no simple or commonly accepted eugenic standard for judging when a marriage should remain childless. It seems questionable that most couples would consider clubfeet as a sufficient reason, or a harelip, or any one of a number of physical handicaps that may be related to the genes. Mental deficiency generally presents a greater problem. Each case is a matter for separate decision. Society ought to take a hand only in those cases that are quite serious and are known to be hereditary.

Sterilization is probably the most effective means for preventing parenthood. Other approaches are institutional segregation, which is expensive and therefore impractical except for the most extreme cases, and birth control which, to be effective, requires more intelligence and skill than mentally handicapped individuals ordinarily possess.

Modern sterilization is accomplished by a rather simple operation in which the tubes that carry the germ cells are cut and tied. It in no way desexes the individual, and the only way it alters his normal life is in the prevention of parenthood. About two thirds of the states have laws permitting sterilization for defective strains and to date more than forty thousand operations have been performed. The question is still a controversial one, however. Certainly it cannot be said that sterilization is a panacea. Chief difficulties are these: (1) the impossibility of determining accurately, in the light of present knowledge, just which defects are hereditary, to what extent, and in which cases; (2) the subjective and politically dangerous nature of deciding where to draw the line, who shall be sterilized; and (3) the fact that many defects are carried recessively, not showing in the individual, which makes them impossible of being reached in that generation. But when used cautiously, and only on those cases which are somewhat extreme and have been carefully diagnosed as to their hereditary nature, sterilization seems definitely to have a place.

Special attention has been given recently to the so-called Rh factor in human blood types, so named because of its discovery in Rhesus monkeys. Approximately 85 per cent of the white population is known to possess this factor. These are labeled Rh-positive; the remaining 15 per cent, rh-negative. The factor is hereditary, with Rh-positive being dominant over rhnegative. Complications can develop whenever the wife is rhnegative and the husband Rh-positive, which is true in about one out of every dozen marriages. In such cases the fetus is apt to be Rh-positive (will definitely be if the father is homozygous, Rh Rh, and may be if he is heterozygous, Rh rh). Antigens from an Rh-positive fetus will sometimes pass into the blood stream of the rh-negative mother. This takes place rather rarely, however, there being no direct connection between the blood streams of mother and infant. When it does happen, antibodies are produced in the mother's blood, which can pass back into the blood stream of the fetus, combine with the Rh-positive cells there, and destroy them. The condition is characterized by anemia and is known as erythroblastosis fetalis or hemolytic disease. It frequently causes stillbirth. Most of those born alive are now saved by means of rh-negative blood transfusions. Fortunately the antibodies produced in the mother's blood accumulate slowly, and as a consequence the first child of a marriage is usually not affected-- unless previously there has been an aborted pregnancy or unless the mother has at some time had an Rh-positive blood transfusion. The possibility of a child's developing this disease increases with each succeeding pregnancy. It is estimated that only about one out of every thirty or forty children of rhnegative women are affected by the hemolytic conditions.

Over half of the states have laws forbidding first cousins to marry, and some carry the prohibition to second cousins. This is because of an incest horror, a feeling on the part of society that close blood unions are not good. Stockbreeders, however, have long used the principle of inbreeding to advantage. What inbreeding does is to bring out the recessive traits; it can be called good if these traits are good, but bad if the traits it brings to the front are undesirable. Eugenists tell us that there is nothing wrong with cousin marriage so long as the ancestries of the mates are good; in such a case it may even result in superior offspring. But if there are hereditary weaknesses, such as feeble-mindedness in the family lines, cousin marriage is extremely dangerous. It is much safer for cousins to avoid each other so far as marriage is concerned, but where the question does come up both law observance and genetic purity should be factors in making the decision.

In all instances, those considering marriage will want to concern themselves seriously over family backgrounds, realizing that heredity cannot be ignored and that the right to parenthood carries with it certain obligations. One way of meeting these obligations is to marry into a family that gives evidence of native normality, that seems to be free from the blights of major hereditary weaknesses. Unfortunately there is no absolutely certain way of determining this, though if one were to examine carefully the backgrounds of his own and the other family in question he should not go far wrong. Family doctors and old-timers in the community can often assist in this process. If a defect is found to repeat itself generation after generation, one can be rather certain that it is in the genes. If this same defect shows itself in the two family lines, it can be considered to be all the more likely to show up in the offspring. Where there is a question or doubt it is well to consult a geneticist or other qualified expert. It must be remembered, however, that no one has all the answers and that in every marriage there will be some risks. The main thing, and all that can be hoped for, is to reduce these risks to the smallest possible minimum. There will always be the problem of judgment, of deciding how much risk one is willing to assume, of determining whether a given defect is serious enough to matter.

The foundations for successful marriage

The foundations for successful marriage do not start with the marriage ceremony itself; they reach back into the courtships, into the childhoods, and into the hereditary backgrounds of those involved. Happiness in marriage is the product of years of preparation, conscious or unconscious, whereby the infant is first formed and then molded gradually into a mature personality capable of the loves and joys of married life. The roots of successful marriage for every man and woman reach deep into his past. Parents should realize that by giving birth to normal healthy children, and by caring for these children and training them properly, they not only secure greater happiness in their own lives but they also lay foundations for successful marriages and families in the generations to come.

Not only are these the most important of all forces operating to affect the success or failure of marriage, but they are formed largely in the home and they have continuity from generation to generation. "As the twig is bent, the tree is inclined."

What makes people behave the way they do? Although research has not moved far enough for a complete or final answer to this question, the following factors seem basic: (1) biological heredity, (2) physical environment, (3) social environment, and (4) cultural environment. The problem is to determine, as best one can, how these several factors converge upon the individual, how they shape his personality and influence his behavior. Before that, however, it will be well to briefly examine the nature of each.

Marital success factors, society, personality

Viewed broadly, marital success can be regarded as contingent upon two interrelated factors: (1) society, and (2) personality. Though these overlap and express themselves in an infinite variety of combinations, they can nevertheless be separated for purposes of analysis. In later chapters we shall deal with the personal elements. Here our focus is to be upon society as a factor in marriage and family stability.

Social institutions are in large part the products of their cultural environments. They are usually organized around certain biologically determined needs, it is true, which explains their universality. But they develop along a variety of lines according to the cultural and interactional patterns of the societies that provide their settings. Thus, every institution represents both unity and diversity, unity as to broad outline or general characteristics, and diversity as to detail. Furthermore, as circumstances change, institutions alter--either that or lose their functional usefulness and in time perish.

To all of this the family is no exception. It arose in response to basic and universal human needs; it has assumed a variety of culturally imposed forms; and it changes as society changes, though not always at the same rate or without disturbance.

Society is in a state of flux. It has always been so, for that matter, but the changes that have been affecting it in recent decades have been particularly violent. Most of these stem from the Industrial Revolution and the new mode of life it has ushered in. Gone are the days of isolation, self-sufficient economy, and hand production. Gone also are the simplicity and the slow tempo of living that were a part of the preindustrial age. Nearly everything is mass production now, and living in general has become more accelerated and complicated as a result.

Change itself is never bad, nor good, only inevitable. But it does require adjustment. Institutions quite naturally receive the impact of the social currents about them, and where they are able to adjust adequately they survive. Otherwise they may pass out of existence.

There is no implication here that society has been in a state of retrogression, or that man should return to the "good old days" when life was simple and almost everyone was supposedly happy. There is no reason why man should be less happy today than formerly; quite the opposite. Times are not worse, just different. The suggestion is that man and his institutions must adjust, always adjust, or they will lag and may be thrown off balance. Though there are special difficulties in the complexity and the unsettled nature of this transitional period, opportunities are probably greater for genuine accomplishment and satisfaction today, because knowledge is widespread, than in any other period of time. The potentials are here; it is now up to man to turn them into actualities.