Why Did I Get Married To – By: Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, M.S.

unnamed (3)If I would ask you why you got married, your response will likely be the following; we have the same interests, we both like to travel, we have similar careers, we have the same goals and aspirations, we care about the same issues, we share a religious and moral belief system, I found her attractive, I fell in love with him, he has a personality that I like, on and on the list will go. I never met you or your partner, and I, with the support of Harville Hendrix will confidently state; that is not the reason why you got married.

We spend our time seeking the perfect mate. Perfection is defined by a list we have created, most likely from a very young age. The list appears random, a compilation of items that you say to yourself is important for a perfect marriage. The list changes, what stays the same is the strong belief that if I find Mr. or Mrs. Perfect who checks off all the boxes on my list, I will be perfectly happy. Our process of creating a list and then dating, meeting, seeking, appears to be a very conscious choice. In fact, it is deeply subconscious. Here I am again, very boldly stating, your list is not random, and if you match your list down to the letter, you are not guaranteed happiness.

During our very early experiences our brain begins to record all the traits of our caregivers; mom, dad, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, grandma, grandpa, close caregiver around us who are responsible for our survival and care. Our subconscious brain does not give meaning to its creation, it simply stores all the character traits and details of the opposite sex, with negative interactions at its forefront. The interactions that threatened our survival remain prominent. Hendrix named this stick figure image of characteristics, Imago.

When you met your partner, do you remember thinking, this feels familiar, this feels good, this feels safe, and this feels just right? It must be because she matches my list so perfectly. In fact, the person fits your imago perfectly. As a jigsaw puzzle, her traits fit neatly into the stick figure in your brain. There are four statements couples share during the beginning stages of lust and romance; “I know we have just met, but somehow I feel like I already know you”, “I cannot remember the time before we met”, “When I am with you I feel whole and complete” and finally, “I cannot live without you.” These statements are irrational, don’t you think? If we have only met 2 weeks ago, you cannot possibly know me that well. So how do we make sense of this? Yes, the person you are seeing is familiar to you because the subconscious part of the brain, because this person connects deeply to the caregiver characteristics your brain stored since birth. When you meet this person, who you are highly attracted to, or begin to fall in love with, your brain says; “I like this, this is familiar.”

The mate-list we create is often a conscious choice of searching for the opposite of our caregiver. Dad was controlling, I will marry someone easy going; Mom never had time for me, I will marry a house wife; Dad was serious, I will marry someone with humor; Mom was irresponsible, I will marry someone who will make me feel safe, and the list goes on. The problem is that our subconscious has a bigger say; attraction and romance begins in the subconscious part of our brain. The mate list we compile is a list of opposite traits of our caregivers. This list is directly related to our desire to heal the parts of ourselves that we lost during our childhood years.

Lea meets Jack. They have an instant connection. Jack has a sense of humor, he is handsome, and what she is most attracted to is his easy going and laid back personality. Lea’s father was irresponsible, he never made it on time to work, he would miss many days, he would then get fired and sink into a deep depression. Jack with his charming and easy personality seemed to be the polar opposite of her dad. Jack and Lea fall in love. Lea agrees to marry Jack since he truly fits her mate-list perfectly. Sometime after their wedding, when the romance stage begins to dissipate, Lea comes to realize that Jack’s laid-back personality is in fact quite irresponsible. He often forgets to manage their bills or to follow up on important calls. Lea is now faced with the realization that she married a man just like her dad and he will wound her just like her father, her need to heal might never be met. When this realization sets in the couple’s romantic stage comes to a close.

We get married to heal our childhood wounded self, therefore we subconsciously seek to recreate our childhood environment. The subconscious brain says, this time it will be different, this time these personality traits will heal me and love me, in contrary to my past, where these particular personality traits caused emotional damage. When we are on the search for our partner, we are searching for the partner with the same personality traits as our early caregivers, but with a catch, “he will not threaten my survival and character the way my early caregivers did.” Happiness in a marriage will be defined by your commitment to yourself and your partner, to heal your childhood wounds. Emotional trauma might never completely heal or disappear by beginning to heal each other you will invariably enhance your emotional and spiritual growth, and from the stage of romance you will move into the stage of lifetime love.

Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, M.S.
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