Marriage compatibility is all in your head

George Pransky is a prominent psychologist known for his theories on relationships. Among his many writings, he is the author of The Relationship Handbook, an extremely interesting guide to relationships, marriage, and divorce which includes the following excerpt:

We have all been surprised by an unlikely couple who found marital bliss. Let’s look at an example.

A woman told a marriage therapist that her husband was in jail and had served five years of a ten-year sentence. She said she visited him every day. The therapist thought he knew what was coming. He expected her to be ambivalent about remaining married or resentful about how much she was giving and how little she was getting back. To his amazement her problem was just the opposite.

“I came in to see if I”m crazy,” she said to him. “I feel a lot of love for my husband. I carry him in my heart all day long. I am grateful to be married to such a man. Of course, I wish he were out of prison so that we could live together.”

“It’s good you love your husband. Why are you concerned about that?” replied the therapist.

“My friends tell me I should divorce him and get another husband. They say it’s wrong to be satisfied with my situation.”

“Are your friends happy in their marriages?”

“Not really. They don’t like the way they are treated. They don’t seem to appreciate their marriages. Only one of my friends is happily married. Come to think of it, she is the only one who seems to approve of my feelings.”

“The point of marriage is to have the feelings you and your husband share,” he said. Yes, it would be better to have companionship, too, but having those feelings in your heart is the most important thing.”

The client was relieved. She knew she felt happy and in love with her husband. She had entertained the idea that they would have to divorce. It was a relief to hear a definition of compatibility that related to inside feelings rather than the external situation.

Suppose a wife is loud, opinionated, plays golf incessantly and likes weird movies, but her husband doesn’t resent these traits. Would he feel compatible with his wife? Of course he would.

There really is no such thing as incompatibility. It is all in our minds. Were this not the case, there wouldn’t be such an unlikely assortment of happy couples in the world.

Compatibility is a product of thought, a figment of the imagination. If we think a characteristic is incompatible, then we will get a negative feeling from that thought. The negative feeling is what we call “incompatibility”. Were we to have a chance of heart and think of the characteristic as good or unimportant, we would feel compatible again.

You can read more about “>The Relationship Handbook on Amazon.

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