Saturday, March 26, 2016


No same sex marriage and no recomposed families


Two remarks have to be made before looking at details. The first one is that apart from two passing mentions in the first chapter (“Is marriage of the same sex okay?” “Should gay marriages be legalized in all countries?”) this book speaks only of heterosexual marriage, which should be clearly indicated as soon as the cover. This book does not deal with same sex marriage. Maybe there are no differences from heterosexual marriage but it has to be discussed.

The second remark is global and does not only concern marriage because it is a basic dimension of human love. Never in this book a clear distinction is established between love and sex. It is assumed all along that love is sex-oriented, even of course when apparently neutral phrasing is used. The book is clear: the reduction or absence of sex in the life of a couple is a sign of trouble, hence of dying love. This should be said straight away and from the very start. Love is an emotion, even a passion that has no reason to be automatically associated to sex. We love many people like our parents, our brothers and sisters, our relatives, our children, and of course our friends without any consideration of gender and naturally without any sexual desire which would lead to incest and pedophilia.

For most humans these two dimensions are just unacceptable not because we are humans but because we are mammals and among mammals procreative intercourse requires a genetic distance that avoids inbreeding, hence rejects incest. Pedophilia is automatically rejected since there is no possible procreative intercourse with an animal that is not of age. And that’s the evolution of marriage and marital love: procreation is non longer the main objective, if not the only one in the past, of marriage. Love becoming a pleasurable blissful activity some boundaries may jump for some people. Incest then is no longer what it used to be, particularly in these days of Wincest on television (Supernatural), but pedophilia is becoming more and more rejected because of the ethical dimension of it and because of the trauma it is for the concerned children.

Then we can discuss a few elements in the book that are extremely important and most of the time well covered.

Alcoholism and drug addiction are very well studied in the negative consequences they have on marriage, similar to the consequences they have on any human relation. If we even follow the French psychiatrist Claude Olivenstein we can state people engulfing in these practices become real cannibals, that is to say they try to attach themselves to someone emotionally and then they take control of them and even vampirize them into absolute dependence, taking possession of everything these persons may own, etc, but this cannibalism or vampirization is all the more important at the mental and emotional level: the target of an addicted person (no matter what the addiction is) is required to become totally emotionally and mentally submissive and subservient. That explains the violence or other excessive reactions you may get from alcoholics or drug addicts. Both lead to schizophrenia or acute forms of paranoia.

There is though within marriage two cases: when the addiction existed before marriage and at times was shared with the future spouse versus when this addiction developed after marriage, within the marital life of the couple. The causes of the development of the addiction cannot be the same and it is important to know if we have to deal with something coming from a childhood or teenage frustration or trauma or if it is the mark of dissatisfaction in marital life, which in its turn can be traced back to some childhood or teenage frustration or trauma. In the first case the marital difficulties are going to be the result of one of the spouses moving away from the addiction and thus resenting the predator’s nature of the other. In the second case it is the development of an addiction within marriage with one of the spouses that becomes conflictual with the fact that the other does not follow suit. The processing of the situation may vary a lot in both cases.

One point is common though: the spouse of the addicted person cannot in anyway be the person who could process the case. The spouse might be able to push slightly towards treatment but the decision to get out of the addiction has to come from the addicted person, has to be supported by positive motivations and has to be dealt with by a total outsider. Addiction is a disease and as such has to be dealt with medically and it is strictly banned for one person to medically treat a person from his or her direct family, ascending or descending. In a case of addiction which implies a high level of psychological disruption it is all the more advised not to treat it within the family because important infancy, childhood or teenage frustrations and traumas are generally the causes of the addiction, which implies the other members of the family are directly concerned as being direct agents or at least direct actors and emotionally involved participants in the events concerned.

When the book deals with counseling, what I have just said is listed among the sensitive questions. It is advised to get a neutral person for the counseling. Neutral means that the counselor cannot be a member of the family or the spouse himself or herself. The counselor has to be from outside the couple or the family. I think it should be heavily stated that success is hazardous if the marital problem is kept within the limits of the family, if it is only dealt with by the direct members of the families of the spouses, descending or ascending. That brings the question of who can be such a counselor.

The book is not entirely clear on that though it refers to professional counseling or faith counseling, but the author also considers help from within the family, which is from my own experience very hazardous and far from being effective or efficacious because of the emotional involvement of the participants. What is important is that the spouses have to go back to the past, marital past or pre-marital past, to discover what events made them what they are. If they are angry within their marriage, or at least one of the spouses is, it is because his or her personality has been shaped into that angry attitude in some situation, in this case in intimate situations. The “outsider” that the book calls the “counselor” has to be slightly more than just that word. This person will have to be trusted by the spouse or spouses and that person will have to trust in return. This trust-relation implies that the spouse or spouses are going to ENTRUST that person with things that are extremely intimate, things that come from a more or less distant past, things that had become unconscious and that the spouse or spouses will have to recuperate in their unconscious. The trust that has to be developed is extremely strong and emotional. There is a danger of the spouse or spouses becoming dependent on this person who has to be trusted with refusing this dependence and refusing to use it as leverage for anything, including if that person is a professional turning the spouse or spouses into milch cows. The book does not insist enough on this dimension. The counselor will be a confidant and as such a friend of some kind. That was easy in the case of confession and a priest but that is not easy in secular society with secular counselors or advisors.

There is another element that is very good and yet bothers me. It is what I call PTSS treatment, the way it has been devised by medical doctors within the Nation of Islam to treat the descendants of the slaves in the USA. They said that it has to be done within a group of peers. Then it has to aim at going back into the past as far as possible and at rebalancing the past heritage from these ancestors. If we shift this approach to our situation, instead of revisiting the distant past several generations away and looking for the positive ways these slaves developed strategies to ensure and guarantee their collective survival, the spouse or spouses have to go back into their distant past to bring up all that has been pushed into the unconscious and especially revaluate what comes up in order not only to see the negative side of things but also the positive side of things, in one word rebalance the past. The shortcomings of a man or a woman are the result of these old events that are thus negative, but we survived them and we have to find out how we managed and it is this perspective that will bring the negative elements down from their powerful pedestal: the survival strategy is positively motivated and is positive in essence.

But I must insist here, and that’s why I do not like the word ”counselor,” it has to come from the spouse concerned himself or herself. It is a personal effort and search for the past events that are blocking the present. Note many events are also enhancing and energizing the present. These blocking past events are painful and as such difficult to bring back and to express. But the “counselor” cannot in any way intervene. He or she is the listener, the prompter, the inciter but not the one who is doing it. What will come up first might not be the proper element we are looking for. We have to open the gate with a first memory and then let other memories come out. The proper one will eventually come up. The “counselor” does not intervene in any estimating stance. He or she only incites the spouse or the spouses to go on searching, and one day the proper element will come out and the spouse or spouses will realize all by themselves the value of this element, even if this realization comes within a discussion with the “counselor.”

That’s where I am afraid the concept of “forgiveness” is warped if not distorted. To forgive cannot be an objective, at best it may be a small tool in the tool box. I think the US Catholic Church has it right when they consider American Indians. You have to “Remember, Reconcile and Recommit.” No forgiveness, no forgetting, no forsaking or forbearing, all words that are negative, that reject what is supposed to be remembered and worked upon to become assets. We have to use positive words that imply we go back to the past, bring it up and give it a new positive or at least balanced value. Hence we must remember and in no way forget the bad and the good all the same. We must reconcile with our past and the people around us and to reconcile we have to reconsider that past and the people around us in a positive or at least balanced way. And then we have to recommit ourselves along with the people around us who are connected to us, to our personal projects, personal objectives, personal ethics and that’s where we must re-estimate our goals and revaluate them, revalorize them. The idea is that the present is going to revive and revitalize the past in the present itself.

In marital life it is not always easy, but the book here is quite clear about it. It is possible and it has to be the rule from the very start. Getting into a relationship is a complete transformation of our life, or at least should be and that’s where love comes into the picture, I mean the emotion love that will bring you to dropping this or that and evolving into that or this because things cannot go on the way they were going on before the relationship was established. Your friends will remain your friends but you will look at them differently. Some will drift away, some you will drift away from, and your friendships, that are one form of love, will have to find new objectives. It is the same with the love for your parents and for your other relatives. Being in a relation is of course slightly more than plain love and it involves sex. But sex without love is not a relationship, and love without sex is an emotional friendly relation but not a relationship.

The problem then is how can you articulate your friendships and your love for your relatives onto and eventually into your love relationship established by your life partnership – which could be marriage.

The last remark I will do is about the rejection of polygamy. This is of course a modern and western way of looking at the problem. Western for sure and for many centuries, but modern because the modern world and its global civilization make polygamy very problematic. But at the same time this position is highly hypocritical. In the west and in developed societies we have also developed several forms of polygamy that are nothing else but polygamy.

We have simultaneous polygamy with one marriage and then mistresses or gigolos. These extramarital relations can be occasional, can be short and changing or can be longer and lasting, but it is polygamy.

Then we can have the case of successive polygamous spouses. You have one, you divorce out of it, you have a second, you divorce out of it, you have a third, you divorce out of it. In the end you have had three or four wives, one after the other. That’s polygamy and nothing else.

It is all the more visible when in our modern recomposed families we may have children from three different mothers or fathers living together. If that is not polygamous, what is? In the same way as same sex marriage is pushed aside, the case of recomposed families are also pushed aside, are not considered at all except if we think they are implied by the great drama of Divorce, the great fear of big “D” that turns up a couple of times in the book, with no analysis of any sort.

My conclusion is that this book will be very useful for people who want an overlook of marital problems within the sole heterosexual marriage (same sex marriage and re-marriage not examined), but if you do have problems the only real solution is to get the necessary help from a person, collective or individual, professional or not, but not a relative, who you may trust with your most intimate secrets. And you might find the light of salvation, knowing that a relationship, married or not, must be constructive and should not be exclusive as for the emotional part, though the sexual part of it is better when it is exclusive. I mean better for both partners in the relationship, not for only one rather than the other.


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