Psychological Self-Help

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934
"Wonder if my background could be causing these feelings?" Could I
be projecting characteristics or emotions to my partner? If the answer
is "maybe," look for more evidence, pro and con. What and who
molded my self-concept in childhood? You can read chapter 15 and
some of the books recommended below, especially Hendrix (1992). 
Are marriages better if you first “live together”?
A good question but there is not a good answer yet. For one thing,
there are several reasons for living together. Some people live
together to test out their relationship--a "trial marriage." But, many
other people, e.g. 25% of all college students sometime during their
four years, just like each other and start sleeping together. (College
students usually sleep in the male's room while the female keeps her
room just in case it doesn't work out and to "fool" her parents.) Only
10% of college students living together consider it a life-long
commitment; their purpose is not to test out or improve a future
marriage; they are 20-22 and they don't want to get married until 8-
10 years later. Meaningful research must, at least, separate the "trial
marriages" from the "love affairs." Living together can also serve other
purposes: it can be a way to entice someone into marriage, it can be a
convenient way to get lots of sex or a companion, it can be a
substitute for marriage. Be sure you and your partner are working for
the same goals. 
There are studies which supposedly "prove" that people who have
"lived together" are more apt to fail in marriage (get a divorce) than
those who have not lived together before marriage. However, there
are other studies that show the opposite--that people who have "lived
together" are more likely to stay together (White, 1987) than those
who have not had that experience. Clearly, all of these people were
serious about marriage; they tried it. But divorce is only a sure sign of
marital unhappiness; remaining married is not a sure sign of marital
happiness. So if the researchers have groups with different attitudes
about the acceptability of divorce, they will get different results. It
seems quite likely that couples who were open to living together will
be more open to the idea of divorce if they become very unhappy. So,
thus far, divorce rate doesn't tell us much about the wisdom of living
together and mate selection. Ratings of marital satisfaction would tell
us more. Recent surveys find that 38% of couples who lived together
before marriage were divorced within 10 years; 27% of couples who
did not live together were divorced within 10 years. 
The research needs to focus on more specific questions, such as:
How often (for whom and how) does living together help prepare us
for marriage? How does living together cause harm? How are negative
attitudes towards living together (and associated moral values) helpful
or harmful in the subsequent marriage? How often does living together
help us detect and escape bad relationships? How often does it
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