Psychological Self-Help

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929
Unconscious needs and motives in mate selection
In the last section, the research usually involved the correlation
within a large group of one test score, e.g. low self-confidence, and an
outcome, e.g. rated marital happiness. You get an entirely different
perspective if you study only one individual (or one couple) and
his/her history, as a therapist might do. I think you will find it
enlightening to read the theories and speculations therapists have
about why we are attracted to certain kinds of people and why we
seek certain kinds of interactions in marriage. I'll give a brief summary
but you should do more reading in this area. The histories of a couple's
dynamics and of their needs, fears, and resentments are often
traceable back two or three generations. It is fascinating. If both your
father and your grandfather failed in business in their late 30's and
your mother and grandmother were very bitter about it, you have a
legacy to live by or to live down. Knowing your history might help you
understand your unconscious motives. 
We may be attracted to people like our parents . Why not?
Such people are what we know and feel comfortable with, especially if
it is a positive characteristic. Most of the time this is beneficial, but we
may also be attracted to problematic traits of a parent, e.g. an overly
controlling, protective mom or an unemotional, unaffectionate father,
which may lead to serious marital problems. 
Wise observers have noted that characteristics which initially
attract us, sometimes become a problem. Examples: the social skill,
warmth, and charm become seen as shallow, self-serving
manipulation; the dependability, predictability, and security become
seen as boring. Likewise, after being attracted to an aloof, cognitive,
quiet, unemotional husband (like dad), the wife may become
increasingly dissatisfied and outspokenly critical of his remoteness;
thus, driving the husband to be even more emotionally defensive and
withdrawn. 
We may be motivated to repeat old relationships even if
unhappy, e.g. if you were the rescuing caretaker in your family, you
may need to select a partner with problems who will need to be
rescued or who will have children who need rescued. Likewise, if dad
was a failure and mom a shrew or if mom and dad were "fighters" or if
you fought constantly with a sibling, you may re-create that situation
even though it was and will be unhappy. This is called "repetitive
patterns." In effect, we "leave home" but maintain the same
psychological environment with our spouse. 
In some instances, we may repeat an old relationship in the hopes
of working it out differently, e.g. a person with a cold, critical, distant
father may marry such a man in the hopes of changing him and
winning him over. 
We are often motivated to not repeat the troubles we have
experienced in previous relationships, e.g. if a parent was alcoholic
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