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By Sanjay Kali

It is said that marriages are made in heaven and marriage vows are sacred in nature. Whatever may be the truth, marriage is one of the oldest human institutions surviving through ages and still doing fine. In fact it is one of those primary relationships which give rise to a family which in turn leads to the higher social structures and the society. Marriage has undergone tremendous change over thousands of years. Today in few parts of the world and in few societies, marriage is an established social structure for a primary relationship between a Man and Women based on equality and shared bonding.
Marriage vows: The reality

But this may not be true as black and white. If we analyze the marriage structure across societies around the world we will find lot of grey areas which are of concern. We may find that in many societies women are purchased like commodities at the market place. Here the criterion for selection is the amount of dowry the Women brings with her. In many more societies the only role of women in marriage is reproduction, procreation and bringing up the next generation. In such marriages it has been seen that women has to sacrifice her individuality at the expense of the family. Ironically such sacrifices are accepted as strict norms and rules for the women involved in the marriage but they are not applicable for the men. So in real terms marriage becomes a burden for the women involved. It becomes one of the classic tools of suppression and exploitation of women. All kinds of evil deeds against women are seen in the guise of marriage like the physical and mental torture of women in the name of dowry or covert and overt ways of control of women through the marriage including a check on their physical, psychological, financial, social and religious independence.

Marriage vows: The positive side

Nevertheless marriage is an institution which is worthwhile to preserve for the sake of all the positive advantages it offers to the society. Marriage allows the couple a life of love and commitment to each other and it provides a stable and protective environment for bringing up the next generation. Marriage helps us to live a life of love, compassion, sharing, caring and commitment which not only involves the self but also others in the family. In fact this is an institution which if properly understood and incorporated as part of our lives, can help us in evolving as a more refined human being who is capable of caring for others and who cares for the nature itself. Therefore marriage vows are sacred in nature.

Marriage vows: Interpretation of love in marriage

On the other hand marriage can also become a living hell if there is no love between the partners in the marriage. Now love in today’s society has a very-very narrow meaning. Most of the marriages which have failed have sown the seeds of their own down fall either because of the evil practices which I had mentioned earlier or because of the “lack of love, bonding & mutual care” between the partners. When a person interprets lack of love and caring most of the times he/she ends up telling about only his/her needs which are perceived not to be fulfilled ignoring the other persons unfulfilled needs from the marriage. This is pure selfishness based only on one’s self interest. This is not love. In fact this might have been a relationship where both the individuals only cared about their own needs ignoring the other person’s aspirations and his/her needs. Always it has been seen that a marriage which is moving towards a failure has self interest as the primary cause of failure. Further the negative and manipulative developments due to the so called friends and relatives compound the problem to a great extent.

Marriage vows: No single answer for failure or success

There can be lot of angles through which we can analyze why a particular marriage was a failure or for that matter why majority of marriages are a big success even in today’s materialistic world.

Marriage vows: Building the essential structures for married life

Speaking in a broader sense, I feel every marriage can work if people can look at their marriage through the spiritual, intellectual, mental, emotional and the physical planes strictly according to the order that I have mentioned. When we start looking the marriage through the spiritual dimension then the whole “scheme of the nature” opens in front of us. Then we can see the larger purpose of the marriage and we can see the meaning of the marriage in terms of what it can offer to the individuals involved, what it can offer to the family that is raised, what it can offer to the near and dear ones from both the sides and most importantly what it can offer to the society and the humanity at large.

Marriage vows: Living the real life

For the germination of a thinking based on holism and unification, we need to come out of our “outer exterior” that we portray to the world and live the real life we cherish and value. It is paramount for the couple to discus and open up their soul’s true urge to each other and then synthesize a common structure at the spiritual level. They should know why they are coming together and how they see themselves together in the short term, the medium term and the long term. The couple should discuss their purpose of coming together in depth which in turn will provide the awareness and inclination to lay a structure and framework towards achieving their mutually synthesized purpose.

Marriage vows: Marriage with a mutually synthesized purpose

When the couple starts living their life dedicated to their mutually synthesized purpose, they will find that they are truly becoming independent and free in their growth as an individual and still remaining complementary and beneficial to each other, their near and dear ones and the society at large. Such a mutually complementary life sows the seed of real love and commitment which considers the total well being of not only the self but also the other person, the extended family, the society and the world.

Marriage vows: Highest foundation of spiritual awakening

Once a couple start living their life with their inner voice as the supreme guiding force, the world will start respecting them as individuals as well as a couple. People and society will then seek suggestions and advice from the couple and further they will have only suggestions and advise to offer to the couple. In fact the world will lose the power to interfere in the couple’s day-to-day life.

Such a marriage based on the highest foundation of spiritual awakening based on our soul’s desire is bound to succeed. A life lived with our inner soul’s voice can never ever lead us to a wrong direction. It may throw up hurdles and barriers but it will also help us develop the strength and resourcefulness to invent ways to overcome these hurdles and barriers.

Marriage vows: Solid foundation for a marriage

Once we have a solid foundation based on the spiritual and the intuitional wisdom, we can start expanding the same into the intellectual, mental, emotional and physical planes. We can then think about the way we will use our keen intellect and mental energies to deal with the issues and people in our life. We will be then able to handle the negativity around us more rationally. We will then stop condemning a negative person and also stop becoming ourselves negative. On the other hand we will then try asking questions like, why this person is generating so much negativity. Are we the cause of it? Or is this person so negative because of his/her circumstances and past experiences? Whatever the cause may be, we will be then able to either solve the negativity or avoid the negativity without condemning the person involved and without we falling into the negativity trap. This will also help us to come out of the “blame game” which is so typical of today’s society.

Further this kind of thinking will allow us to understand the negative and positive structures and help us to build on the positive structures of life and simultaneously either resolve, downplay or avoid the negative structures. We therefore prevent ourselves from getting into the negative spiral.

Thus with strong spiritual and intuitional wisdom as our foundation in life and with sound intellectual and mental balance to distinguish between the negative and positive structures of life it will become very easy for us to live in the emotional and physical planes. This will make us live a life with emotional and physical commitment to our near and dear ones, it will help us in starting a family with true commitment and dedication, it will help us in bringing the next generation in a protective and nurturing environment and it will help us in creating financial and material resources to look after us, our families and to be helpful to the society at large with the additional resources in hand.

Marriage vows: Integration of life at every level

Only by living a life which synthesizes and integrates the spiritual, intuitional, intellectual, mental and physical planes, we can think about living a life in sync with nature and our inner self. This makes us part of the nature’s scheme of things in bringing the unification of forces. We need to believe in this unification of forces and actively practice in establishing it through motivating and strongly cajoling each other towards it. Only if this is done, we can think about bringing positive forces in our life and only then we can move ahead in life taking everybody along with us.

Marriage vows: Rupture in the marital relations

Now if a couple can work on the above mentioned platform from the beginning, the synthesis of life becomes easy. On the other hand if the marriage is already in trouble because of all the negative structures of the past and if the couple is trying to work out the process of rapprochement then they should keep one thing in their mind that is the whole process of rapprochement is a slow and steady process and it will evolve as per the will of the nature.

We should not think of pushing it or hastening it as nature has its own course of action. We are nobody to control nature. It may take months and years to break the negative structures and thus clear the bad blood and animosity between everybody involved. The miracles of nature happen slowly and steadily.

We need to understand the fact that to break and destroy things is easier and faster. To build a new structure from the ruins, it takes great courage, commitment and lot of time. As they say the real character of a person is known by how he/she acts in the times of adversity.

Marriage vows: Finding a win-win situation

In the troubled times, the rapprochement and counseling session should work on the immediate goal of finding a working solution to prevent the complete collapse of the marriage by offering a win-win situation to everybody involved.

Marriage vows: Open communication

The most important thing in this regard will be an open and free communication between the couple involved as well as the true well wishers of the couple who want to see them back together. This communication should not become a blame-game session nor should it become a session of dominating each other. These communication sessions should explore the possibility of constructing a middle ground to live a life based on the structures of spiritual, intellectual, mental, emotional and physical well being of everybody concerned.

Marriage vows: The choice is with the couple

Therefore it is indeed in the hands of the partners involved in the marriage to either make marriage vows sacred or make marriage a living hell for themselves. The choice is indeed with them and nobody else.

By Larry Bilotta

Before you begin screening marriage counselors to help you save your marriage, you MUST consider the potential drawbacks of marriage counseling so you can get all your facts straight FIRST. This article will help you avoid making a costly mistake that could not only set you back financially…but cost you your marriage as well.

In July of 1999, at a conference for professional marriage counselors, a credible marriage counselor by the name of Dr. William J. Doherty, gave a shocking report on the state of marriage counseling to his fellow professionals.

According to Doherty, most marriage counseling is HAZARDOUS, not helpful to your marriage.

Therapy-based, American style marriage counseling (practiced by most marriage counselors) can actually do more HARM than good in your marriage.

All hope is NOT lost however, for the rising number of struggling couples. There ARE more effective alternatives to marriage counseling – they are so effective in fact that even professional marriage counselors are admitting that couples need MARRIAGE EDUCATION more than they do marriage therapy.

In June of 1999, USA Today reported that, “Even fans of marriage counseling are saying disturbing things. Research shows that it doesn’t work as well as we once thought and it might not last.” That report reinforce the research that shows a great majority of marriage counselors conducting therapy have had no formal training at all.

This research further documented that two years after couples went through marriage counseling, 25% of the couples were WORSE OFF than before they started the therapy.

Up to 38% of them actually divorced.

Perhaps what’s even more shocking is the fact that therapists who actually work with COUPLES, are in the minority.

80% of all private practice marriage counselors in the U.S. say they conduct marriage therapy, yet only 12% are in a profession that requires them to take EVEN ONE course on dealing with couples.

If you ask marriage counselors about their approach, the vast majority will tell you that they find working with individuals much more “productive” than working with couples.

Dr. William J. Doherty stated, “Couples therapy is the most difficult therapy of all because every session starts with the threat of divorce”.

After training marriage counselors for a living, in his 1999 address at the conference for professional marriage counselors, Dr. Doherty called the methods of marriage counselors, “Hazardous to your marital health.”

He established four ways that marriage counselors have produced DESTRUCTIVE outcomes in marriages.

According to Doherty, there are four ways marriage counselors can do more harm than good in your marriage…

1. By being incompetent

2. By being neutral

3. By pathologizing (telling you why your marriage is “sick”)

4. By being overtly undermining (attempting to break up the marriage)

INCOMPETENT: In the case of incompetent marriage counselors, the counselor has not been trained to work with couples together. They believe working with two people is an expanded version of working with one, but it is not. An individual is easy to listen to, but a battling couple is not. Working with couples requires skill, structure and a very different approach than one-on-one therapy.

NEUTRAL: These marriage counselors, Doherty claims, are not neutral about marriage at all. When a counselor appears to be neutral, but actually takes sides with the more self-oriented spouse, they are undermining the marriage. “When a counselor uses the language of individual self interests, it undercuts the moral commitment that is owed to the marriage.” Doherty stated.

PATHOLOGIZING: Pathologizing is when marriage counselors build a case insisting that the couple has a “sick” relationship. They actually ENCOURAGE couples to get a divorce by saying things like, “Why SHOULD YOU hang in there? Why be a victim?” These marriage counselors make couples believe that they’re being abused, which causes both spouses to draw their only conclusion: “If the professional thinks this is over, then I should too.”

UNDERMINING: While telling couples what they should do is against the code of ethics of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, many therapists still do it. These therapists say phrases like, “You should probably end this marriage.” or, “If you’re going to stay sane, you should move out.” Undermining therapists urge husbands and wives to sever their relationships with family members and spouses.

If you’re looking for a good marriage counselor, Dr. Doherty urges you to ask questions first. Learn about the therapists’ values by asking questions like these:

1. Are you self taught, workshop-trained or college educated in working with couples?

Bad Answer: College educated.

Good Answer: Self taught or workshop trained and they speak convincingly about how their program saves marriages.

2. What is your attitude about saving a troubled marriage vs. helping a couple break up?

Bad Answer: “It’s not my decision. Couples have to make their own decision.” (This is an evasive answer…not a good sign.)

Good Answer: “I help couples find ways to stay together and help them understand and overcome their problems.”

3. Where do you stand when one spouse wants to stay and the other wants a divorce?

Bad Answer: “I try to get people to understand their own feelings.” (This is a focus on the individual, NOT the couple.)

Good Answer: “This is normally what I see with couples. I have ways to help them both handle this in positive ways.”

4. What percentage of your practice involves both husband and wife?

Bad Answer: “I find working with husbands and wives individually to be more practical.”

Good Answer: “All of it. When both people are with me and following my process, I find they have the greatest success rate.”

5. Of all the couples you treat, what percentage stay married and have a better marriage in the end?

Bad Answer: “100%” or “I don’t keep that type of information.”

Good Answer: About 70 to 80% stay happily married, while the rest drop out of my process and are unwilling to finish.

The difference in the answers you receive from marriage counselors is the feeling you get when you talk with them. Bad answers feel evasive or vague while good answers are confident and positive.

Now that you know the right questions to ask, you can confidently screen marriage counselors, separating the GOOD from the bad. But if you’re hesitant about bringing a marriage counselor into your marriage, as Dr. Doherty suggested, marriage education might be the answer you’re looking for.

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