The following questions suggest a couple of the crises which married couples may have to face. If you at least give some thought to these deep questions now, you will be able to handle them better if they occur at some time in your marriage.
What would you do if your marriage partner died?
The most difficult problem will be emotional. The loss of a loved one is always a shock and a strain. The problems here involved are so well recognized that we need only mention them. Other emotional problems are centered around the readjustment of your future.
Such an adjustment is usually less difficult for a man. He can go on with his vocational plans, much as he had expected to do. If he is still under fifty or so he can usually find a suitable woman whom he can marry, and thus pick up the broken strands of his plans for a home and family.
The woman usually faces a more difficult situation. Some will have other opportunities to marry, and thus be able to continue their hopes and dreams. Many girls will not. The death of a lover or husband will end for them any chances for marriage. The loss of these possibilities will usually mean a rather complete readjustment of their vocational programs.
If the girl has already been well trained to earn her living, as every girl should be, her vocational problems will be less serious. If she is not so trained, her vocational problems may be serious, especially if she is widowed with children to support.
How would you handle the problem of adultery?
This question, like the previous one, may raise an unpleasant subject. But it is one which you should face. Adultery is much more common than premature death. We urge that you come to a clear understanding regarding the sex standards which you expect of each other after marriage. A definite agreement on this point will give you a basis for a sound approach to the problem of adultery. Any discovered violation of your agreement will necessarily be serious. Yet like any crisis, this possibility is one for which you should be emotionally prepared, and intellectually have formulated some tentative policy.
An older view once commonly held was that one experience of adultery automatically destroyed the marriage. That position, fortunately, is no longer recognized as sound and it is important to recognize that a marriage which has been damaged by an adulterous experience can recover, and recover fully. If you face adultery your first responsibility will be to try seriously to heal the marriage, not to complete its destruction in the divorce court.
For many, a personal experience with an adulterous mate would come as a profound shock. The adjustments required would be difficult and real. The first essential, as with any problem, is to find out what the behavior means.
What if it is not a single slip, but a regularly established affair with someone else? Will you try to conceal this, or continue it with the knowledge of the other? What if you were threatened with divorce? Have you basically changed the moral standards to which you agreed at the time of marriage?
If so, has this fact been brought out into the open, and adjustments made in the light of the changed situation? Or was your adultery an expression of hostility, an act of aggression? If so, have you reviewed the whole situation between you to determine the reason for the hostility, and what should be done about the total relationship?
We hardly expect any couple to decide regarding all such possibilities in advance of their own marriage. You should know, however, what you might face with reference to a violation of the sex standards which you have agreed upon, and some possibilities as to both your attitude and what you will do about any such changes in your relationship.
Facing up to a few of the crises which may occur in marriage before they arise will guarantee that you can face them better equipped. A good start is considering how you would react to the above scenarios.
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