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#49 - Why Do We Want To Get Married?

By KC Johnson

Wedding cake for outdoors wedding sitting on a swing seat.
Photo by Mao Soria in Pixabay

Do You Want A Partner To Complete You?

There can be many reasons for wanting to be married.  Hopefully, the main reason is each partner feels a deep love for and connection with the other person.


Perhaps for some it is fulfilling a subtle, abstract biological drive to advance/maintain species and raise their own offspring.  For others, it’s desiring companionship, a drive to avoid loneliness.  Some may want to feel validated and important in another person’s life.  There can be financial advantages.  Even some are just fulfilling micro-voice needs to control another person, to feel powerful.  Many may feel a need to marry due to peer/family pressures to do so.  Some may marry out of a whim catering to their micro-voice desires that they don’t understand.  And certainly, a marriage can be a license for easy access to sex.


Marriage is a complicated mix of factors that are seldom fully understood.  Only after living with another person do we begin seeing just how complex the relationship actually is.  Some factors can be understood and managed with communication, negotiations, and compassion for the other person’s needs.  But many factors are deeply buried in each partner’s psyche that can be very difficult to access.

 

What if the underlying need for marriage is actually fulfilling the holes deeply felt from not experiencing being sufficiently nurtured as a child? 

This is a reoccurring theme throughout all of my articles.  Seems strange to believe that what happened when we were born up to 3y/o is significantly affecting our thoughts, perceptions, and inner drive at 23y/o, or even at 63y/o.  A case can be made for a direct correlation to our earliest experiences affecting us for the rest of our lives. 


Robert Winston and Rebecca Chicot write in their article The importance of early bonding on the long-term mental health and resilience of children in The London Journal of Primary Care:


“Human babies are born very dependent on their parents. They undergo huge brain development, growth and neuron pruning in the first two years of life. The brain development of infants (as well as their social, emotional and cognitive development) depends on a loving bond or attachment relationship with a primary caregiver, usually a parent. There is increasing evidence from the fields of development psychology, neurobiology and animal epigenetic studies that neglect, parental inconsistency and a lack of love can lead to long-term mental health problems as well as to reduced overall potential and happiness.”

 

First, let’s clarify what sufficient nurturing entails.  This is not a judgment against our parents.  Even a deeply loved child can experience deficient nurturing.  We all need to be held, at all ages, but in infancy and toddler years and into mid-childhood periods we are developing our sense of self.  Our feeling of being safe and accepted for who we are, and our sense of belonging develops at this most critical time in our young lives.


 

“In both children and adults, the physiological effects of positive touch include:

  • Strengthened immune system

  • Lowered heart rate

  • Lowered blood pressure

  • Increased circulation

  • Reduced pain

  • Reduced stress, anxiety and fatigue

It’s pretty clear touch is good for us. But the benefits of touch reach far beyond the merely physical. Babies who do not receive adequate human interaction—and especially loving touch—can suffer later on. They may become depressed and anxious, fail to grow properly, experience developmental delays, and can be prone to violence and compulsive and/or anti-social behavior.

Touch deprivation, in extreme cases, can even result in death.”

 

Busy, loving parents may not have the time nor energy to fully nurture.  Parents struggling with their own past needs and childhood experiences may not have the emotional strengths to elevate a child’s needs over their own.  But likely, the real reason parents don’t give needed nurturing is that they just don’t know how important it is for appropriate, adequate skin-to-skin touch, holding, and intimate support that needs to constantly evolve through all of their child’s age periods.  If parents believed and fully understood that the techniques for nurturing were the most vital factor for supporting their child’s basic needs, they would give it.  They just don’t know.  And there are few voices telling them about this vital connection for raising healthy children.


Unfortunately, modern societies have adopted nurturing standards that withhold these most vital needs during child-raising years.  The “spare the rod and spoil the child” beliefs of the early nineteen hundreds are still with us today, albeit, softened sometimes to just withholding the vital appropriate touch connections with children.  In effect, we are starving our children of the most important connection they need for healthy emotional growth.  Probably a vast majority of citizens are starved for healthy touch that affects every thought they have and every action they take.

 

Nurturing Touch Is The Mystery Ingredient!

Just doing an internet search for nurturing techniques, and there are few references about the importance of touch.  It’s no wonder parents are at a loss for finding how to give deep, healing nurturing touch with their children.  Discovering how to give appropriate touch and holding, how to talk in non-judgmental, supportive ways, and how to strengthen their child’s healthy sense of self is just hard to find.  Even the professional psychologists seem to miss the most critical benefits of deep touch and intimacy for a child. 


Tanyo J. Peterson writes in her article Sociopathic Children: How Do They Become That Way?

“What Leads To Child Sociopathic-like Behavior?:


While experts don't fully know the answer to why a child develops sociopathic traits or characteristics, they have identified factors that may predispose a child to conduct disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Any one of the factors, whether its nature or nurture, by itself isn't a red flag. It's when several are at play in a child's life that conduct disorder and signs of sociopathic behavior increase in likelihood.

Biological factors, or "nature," include

  • difficult temperament from infanthood (suggesting a brain-based problem);

  • maternal smoking during pregnancy (the toxins negatively affect brain growth);

  • antisocial personality disorder in the family (creating a genetic predisposition).

Environmental factors, or "nurture," include

  • growing up in a violent neighborhood

  • associating with delinquent peers

  • rejection from peers, parents, or others

  • lack of supervision

  • early institutional living

  • frequent changes of caregivers, as in foster care

  • large family size

  • varying types of child abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, neglect—singly or multiple)

  • parental rejection

  • inconsistent parenting practices, from leniency to harsh discipline

It's important to note that trauma, such as those listed here, impacts the brain on the neurobiological level, thus creating emotional and biological changes and difficulties.”


Not a word mentioning touch, hugs and holding, or fulsome nurturing by the professional therapists.  It’s like there is a subconscious avoidance of their own deeply held traumas.

 

Do We Marry To Fulfill Our Need To Be Nurtured?

The question is, how does this missing touch and nurturing during childhood affect our desire to be married?  One possible premise is we seek marriage to give us frequent access to intimate touch.  Essentially, we use marriage as a way to re-nurture ourselves.  Or, more precisely, our Inner Child seeks a way to experience the emotional need to be nurtured that has been missing for all of our life.  


The early stages of a developing love for another person are certainly beautiful, exciting, and a growing experience.  A healthy relationship isn’t based on needing a partner to complete us, but to find a person who adds value to us, who enjoys exploring and sharing new perspectives, who just loves us for who we are, not who we can be molded into.  It may be that it is our Inner Child’s needs that are being met through a healthy relationship. 


As long as each partner’s Inner Child needs are being met the marriage will flourish.  That is true for any relationship.  When both partners purposely try to help the other’s Inner Child, the marriage will thrive.  When the Inner Child feels threatened, unsafe, and ignored only the legal contract can hold the relationship together.


Of course, we don’t generally think in terms of the Inner Child.  We believe that it is just our adult-life needs being met through the relationship.  But if we dig deeper we will discover our earliest needs crying out for fulfillment.  Even when we were fully nurtured as a child, we can want to be married as a way to return to the fuzzy-warm benefits of the healing touch by parents.  It is our primal need, not just for the nourishing touch, but for the validation of our being a valid person to someone else. 


Nurturing is our human animal’s way of developing into healthy, emotionally strong, and resilient beings.  It is the underlying overriding force that drives every aspect of our being.  Marriage, or at least a committed relationship, gives us the opportunity to continue healthy experiences from childhood or repair a fragile, incomplete nurturing experience in childhood.


These same factors driving us to want marriage can also be applied to those of us who do not want marriage or an intimate relationship.  We all just want and need to be held, accepted, valued, loved at any stage in our lives.  We never outgrow this need for the emotional nutrients that our deepest selves crave.  But those among us who have chosen not to be intimate with another person may be avoiding facing their deepest, painful longings. 


If only we could understand this critical need for our happiness, we might better understand how to find fulfillment.  By thinking in terms of Inner Child needs, both our own and for the other person, we can design our needs around experiences that that meets those needs.  And by being in touch with the other person’s Inner Child needs, we can develop deeper connections with that person. 


This intentional compassion requires purposefully trying to understand the other person’s deepest missing emotional pieces.  Even if they don’t understand their own needs, the aware partner can still fulfill their needs and strengthen the relationship.  That awareness can be a core ingredient for a healthy marriage or relationship.


That search for fulfilling our earliest Inner Child needs actually drives every aspect of our life’s existence.  Every thought we have and every decision we make is built on our earlier experiences.  Our choices of work, our means for fulfillment, our friends, and our lifestyles are the product of our earlier experiences and our developed sense of self.  Getting married fills that early need for some, but having a healthy, caring, and loving relationship is vital for all of us to meet our deepest emotional strengths. - kc

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About US

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This blog has been a work of love developed over the past ten years and finally brought to life through the dedicated tech help by Soren, who was originally my physical therapist and now is a time-limited partner who managers two other martial arts training centers. Being an old gay guy I struggle to function well in the blog-a-sphere so this presentation will be a bit rough at first. Feel free to lend your ideas.

 

Since my teen years I have believed that through appropriate touch we can heal ourselves. But the journey to better understand my own dynamics and gain enough awareness to be able to write about our complex humanness only coalesced after I had an opportunity to be in prison. There I had time to do deep self-examinations about why I was who I am and how I could translate that into helping others make discoveries for themselves. I do not claim to be a professional therapist or counselor.

 

But I do believe there are others in this world who might benefit from these ideas presented in this blog platform. Having grown to the point of releasing nearly all of my fears and can now truly say that I love every moment and feel in partnership with my soul, I feel that others may benefit from my travels. Being non-judgmental I welcome your insights, whatever they may be, and I will strive to help everyone find greater peace in their lives. HOSHOWLOVE.com and Hoshow, LLC.

 

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