How Couples Come to Value Autonomy Over Mutuality.
Along with our contemporary Western focus on autonomy, we’re seeing more evidence of loneliness both within and outside of relationships, as well as a rise in violence and alienation, and divorce rates that, although down, are still much higher than ideal. Couples in trouble, like Jenny and Bradley, all too frequently resort to “you do your thing and I’ll do my thing” or “you take care of yourself and I’ll take care of myself” remedies. “I’m not ready to be in a relationship,” we hear, and “You have to love yourself before anybody else can love you,” we hear.
Is there any truth in any of this? Is it true that you may love yourself before you can love someone else?
Consider the scenario. Is this possible? If this were the case, newborns would be born adoring or loathing themselves. They don’t, as we know. Humans, in reality, do not begin by thinking about themselves, either positively or negatively. Because we have been loved by someone, we learn to love ourselves. Because someone has looked after us, we learn to look after ourselves. Other individuals can have an impact on our self-worth and self-esteem.
Check it out for yourself if you don’t agree with what I’m recommending.
Consider a period when your parents didn’t trust in you in some manner when you were a child. Were you able to maintain your self-confidence? You may have been. But, if that’s the case, tell me how you accomplished it. Where did you obtain your beliefs, and from whom? Consider an ex–romantic partner who did not trust or believe in you. Nonetheless, were you able to trust or believe in yourself?
Where did that faith and confidence come from? If you did trust in yourself in any of these situations, there’s a strong probability it came from someone close to you. All of our previous experiences and relationships have affected who we are now.
Many modern couples hold varied views about love partnerships, yet their earlier love experiences do not line up with their aspirations. This is an issue since personal experience usually takes precedence over principles. This is just how we’re built.
We won’t have great role models for loving to rely on in our own adult relationships if we didn’t observe commitment in our parents’ marriage, for example. Those principles will certainly escape us if we never experienced reciprocal care, sensitivity, or mending in our parents’ marriage.
This is shown by our two couples. Bradley and Jenny are not acting in any way that is dissimilar to what they were when they were children.
Jenny’s mother, for example, would often forsake Jenny’s father in social occasions, just like Jenny does today with Bradley. Jenny’s parents were never affectionate or connected to her. The children, on the other hand, were often utilized in their discussions.
Jenny’s mother complained to her father about his leaving her to fend for herself while he went to the bar with his buddies. Bradley’s parents were often too preoccupied with their own interests to devote much time to their children. Bradley resents it when Jenny judges him harshly, since his mother has been known to force his father out of the home with her criticism.
Bram and Greta don’t think their parents are ideal, but they both remember feeling loved and respected by them as youngsters. Both of their parents had childhood recollections of apologizing to one another and quickly repairing any lingering wounded sentiments. Greta’s mother was an expert at dealing with Greta’s father, who could be a cranky and unpleasant person at times.
Greta was never frightened to approach her father because she had learnt how to react to him from her mother—in the greatest manner possible. Despite his irritable personality, she knew her father cared deeply about her mother’s pleasure and well-being.
Bram had a similar but opposite experience. His mother was a high-strung woman who had troubles both inside and outside the house. His father, on the other hand, was a quiet man who had no trouble reacting appropriately to his mother. Bram’s father admired his mother’s zest for life, while his mother admired his father’s serenity and unflappability. When I say “in the best manner,” I mean in a way that is beneficial to all parties and feels wonderful.
What are the Benefits of Working Together?
You may be thinking whether the type of commitment I’m recommending is something you want to do. Indeed, why couple up at all?
Being in a relationship has no intrinsic advantages over being single.
The focus of this book is not on whether a single or coupled lifestyle is preferable. I know a lot of perfectly content singles who don’t feel compelled to avoid partnering or lament their single status. These people are content with their life in whatever case: if a connection develops, terrific; if not, good.
Furthermore, research on the relative advantages of relationships has shown no conclusive results in any direction. Some evidence suggests that married individuals are happier and healthier than nonmarried people, such as figures published by writers Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher in their book The Case for Marriage (2000). Others, such as Alois Stutzer and Bruno Frey (2003) in Germany and Richard Lucas and Andrew Clark (2006) in the United States, have found that persons who marry are happy in the beginning.
Unhappy married people are more prone to sickness than happily single people, according to Janice KiecoltGlaser and her colleagues (2005).
Procreation is one of the most evident reasons why individuals couple up. This impulse is built into our DNA in order to secure our species’ survival. Pairing up for this reason, however, does not always imply the necessity for a long-term, committed relationship.
Monogamy isn’t a need of nature, at least not for our species. Some species, such as wolves and prairie voles, form lifelong pairs, which I find fascinating. Prairie voles (who link with a spouse for life) and meadow voles (who do not bond for life) are genetically distinct, according to neurobiologists researching voles.
It’s feasible that researchers may one day discover human genes that explain why humans choose to couple up or not.
Meanwhile, we may consider what occurs to a newborn to have a better understanding of the purpose of teaming up with another person. All newborns, in theory, should have a parent or other caregiver that prioritizes their bond above all else.
The infant feels comfortable and cherished, and the adult likes being with and caring for the baby as well. It’s a team effort for the two. Because the infant and caregiver are bound, or attached, to one another, we call this a primary attachment connection. This is a “baby bubble,” similar to the “couple bubble,” except it only happens throughout childhood.
This newborn bubble lays the groundwork for later in life’s rewarding interactions. If we were given stability and a loving relationship that we could trust when we were young, we take that with us throughout our lives. We may create new main attachment ties as adults.
We believe we have the ability to be powerful, caring, and safe. On the other side, if our ties with caregivers were shaky as children, and the caregiver did not appear to desire to be with us above all else, we are more likely to be scared of starting or remaining in partnerships.