WHO REALLY CHOOSES YOUR SPOUSE? by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

How do you choose your spouse? Is it free will or some other “method”?

“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, I listen 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 spouses.

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? No one! Once again, it’s the unconscious at work.

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 dad and mom never could. Or, we pick the exact opposite, and that leads to another set of problems.

Does this happen all the time? Of course not. There are many good marriages. But it happens enough to give us all something to think about. Anytime we substitute an object from our past with an object 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?

Examine your needs, your past, and whether your expectations are unreasonable. Would you expect anyone else to behave the way you’re expecting your spouse to behave? Probably not. Get your expectations in line with reality and your chances of having a happy marriage will improve exponentially.

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