CHOOSING A SPOUSE; LOGIC OR SOMETHING ELSE? by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

I’m taking a break from writing about all the illogical people in Washington; since compromise is way too logical for them… So instead I’ve picked a really logical subject to understand — marriage and how we pick our spouses.

Wait! Did I say logical? Hah. Not exactly. Now we have to deal with the logic of the unconscious.
You doubt me. You think that you chose your spouse logically, by your own free will?

“She was a knockout. It was love at first sight.”
“We sat next to each other in class and one thing led to another.”
“He was the only one who wasn’t obsessed with sports. We had so much in common.”

Is it that simple? Lust? Common experience? Meshing personalities?

I don’t think so. Year after year, for 500 years, I’ve listened to the underlying reasons. Most of the time, what is apparent is that ancient parental conflicts do the “picking” for us. The cold and abusive father, the distant and unavailable mother, the father who abandoned the family, the good-time, flirty mother — All are recycled in our choice of a spouse.

Why? Why are spouses picked by the conflicts that tortured us? For sure it’s not a conscious decision. Who in their right mind would marry someone who perpetuates the pain of our childhood?

Once again, it’s the unconscious at work. Freud ‘s concept of Repetition Compulsion is still alive and valid. We keep trying to prove, over and over, that mommy and daddy really did love us. Getting a spouse to do what a parent never did is the object. We’ve replaced our parent with our spouse and can now spend the rest of our lives trying to get him or her to do what daddy and mommy never could. Good luck. There’s a reason 50% of marriages end in divorce.

Does this happen all the time? Of course not. There are many good marriages. But it happens enough to give us all something to ponder. Anytime we substitute an object(person) from our past with an object(person) from the present, there can be major problems. We expect too much or too little from our spouse and get furious when our needs aren’t met. How can our expectations be realistic when they’re driven by old unconscious wounds?

What’s there to do about it?

Sometimes nothing. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.

Sometimes it is wise to examine our own needs, the past, and whether our expectations are reasonable.

Would you expect anyone else to behave the way you’re expecting your spouse to behave when you use that obnoxious demanding tone? If you did, would they still be your friend?
Is there anyone else that you would dare to demand absolute, utter respect? Aren’t most friendships built on differing opinions? Are you capable of allowing your spouse a totally different perspective from yours? Some people from UCLA still have happy marriages when their spouse is from USC. Who would have thought?

Your ideas and thoughts are always welcome.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks. Continue reading “CHOOSING A SPOUSE; LOGIC OR SOMETHING ELSE? by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist”

FICTION IS THE ULTIMATE TRUTH, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Fiction is the ultimate truth.

Characters that can show us who we really are, and help us get through the dark and lonely times, are truly our friends.

A great writer does more than just tell a story. He creates characters that make the reader care. Holden Caulfield, Jack Reacher, Rabbit Angstrom… We stay up late worrying about them, thinking about their dilemmas, comparing what we would do in similar circumstances.

In Chasing Backwards and Skin Dance, you will meet two of my favorite characters in the world, Joe Belmont, a 1st year medical student, and Jake Robb MD, a psychiatrist. Well, I did give birth to both of them. You didn’t know that all writers have a uterus?

Nevertheless, like all of us, both my sons have their flaws. But, they have one common characteristic that I’ve always admired, they never give up. Whatever the odds — killers, psychosis, lost loves — they do what they have to do, to survive, and do the right thing.

In The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, you will meet me, Art Smukler, as a 1st year psychiatric resident, struggling to understand how to treat a dangerous psychotic patient and what it’s really like to become a psychiatrist.

Dr. Smukler has won the prestigious Golden Ear Award for excellence in teaching at Harbor-UCLA Medical center and excellence in writing fiction at The Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.