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Tuesday, July 20, 2010


A provocative thesis. You made me think, but you avoid absolutes. That could be a strength OR a weakness.

Great stuff, Dr. X!

One thing that interests me is how a parent may unwittingly inflict on their child exactly the trauma that blighted their own childhood. Thus, if the greatest harm done a child by a divorce might (typically) be the loss of daily contact with their father, (cf: Sting on "I'm So Happy I can't stop crying" about being a Sunday father), wouldn't it be doubly sad if that child grew up to have children outside of marriage in a relationship that was likelier to end, depriving their child in turn of a father day in and day out.

People in my family (like most probably?) oscillate between mostly lifelong, faithful marriages, and those who are highly critical of them ("I wouldn't want a relationship like theirs!") with divorces that blow apart the children's lives. And a few who grimly cling on to relationships so as to make stability for the kids. The family's relationship "experts" who hold forth at gatherings on how to be happy, how to have a good love life, how to have a balanced life, get divorced. If they know so much???

As I have talked with the children of divorce in the family (as well as kids I have worked with), some other issues come up besides the unconscious guilt you describe. For example, incredible idealism and lack of realism. If you have never seen a warm and affectionate relationship you may fantasize about a perfect one that no real person could measure up to.

Also, if you survived a parental divorce (or series of divorces) because your father paid for good schools, you may escape into work and your profession and treat a beloved as a toy. You may not only be afraid or too guilty to commit, but you may just not find yourself able to care, to love enough to commit to forever. You may be reserved, wary. Heaven help the male who falls hard for one of these females, who will forever be emotionally unattainable.

People may feel unworthy of being loved, cherished, and afraid to commit. But they may also simply not love ANYONE enough to marry them. Our parents' generation married in a romantic fog of lust and longing, but the hook up generation can play all that out without any commitment necessary.

I can think of one family where the children saw their mother's possessions looted by a former spouse, and who see marriages in terms of one person being stolen from by another. This doesn't encourage them to marry anyone.

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