Playing a Role, Part of Successful Marriage
March 6, 2012
by Henry Makow Ph.D.
(Revised from March, 2011)
I received this question from Jim:
You have to consider some other factors:
How attractive are you? i.e. whom are you likely to attract?
Does she love you? That's more important than do you love her.
The idea of the "only one" is a romantic delusion. There are thousands of women who might be suitable mates. I may be jaded but a woman is a vehicle, like a car. She performs a function in your life (companionship, sex, mother of your children etc.) Find a good one and get on with your life.
No one is perfect, including ourselves. Look for someone compatible, whom you can live with.
Most people have a range of good and bad qualities. Love is mostly working with the bad qualities and being rewarded by the good.
Real love is not based on sex appeal or sparkling repartee. It is based on caring, consideration and loyalty tested over time.
I didn't hear back from Jim!
Born in 1949, I can still remember the traditional 1950's view of marriage.
You found the best person possible, made a commitment and stuck with it through thick and thin, "until death do you part."
When you weren't feeling love, you faked it. You played the role. So did your partner. Most of us prefer the real thing but we'll settle temporarily for a good facsimile!
When H.L. Mencken was tending to his young wife who was dying of tuberculosis after only five years of marriage, a friend asked him if he had got a raw deal.
"I keep my bargains," the writer replied.
There is something to be said for playing the role. Women are moody. Feelings are fickle. If you're not feeling love, just act the part.
That applies to your partner too. My wife was in a bad mood and felt this allowed her to be sullen, cold and distant.
She is a teacher. I said: "When you're in a bad mood and must teach, you rise to the occasion. Do you take it out on your students? Why should I be any different?"
"You don't care how I feel," she complained.
"Of course I do, but it doesn't entitle you to forfeit your responsibilities."
This made sense to her and now I don't have to suffer along with her. The same applies when I am feeling down.
Society depends on people playing roles. We all have reasonable expectations of how a teacher, policeman, judge, politician, parent, dog owner etc. should behave. The same applies to spouses.
PLAY THE PART
If your wife is driving you crazy, don't say anything that will make it worse. Don't ever mention you're planning to divorce her (because that feeling will pass.)
It's like a plane going through turbulence. Eventually, you reach smooth air and are reminded of why you married in the first place.
Jonathan Swift said: "I believe it is often with religion as it is with love, which by much dissembling at last grows real."
"Dissembling" i.e. faking it. We have a choice. We can be hypnotized by the media delusion of romantic love. Or we can hypnotize ourselves: Play the part.
It's so all-pervasive, we don't notice the biggest brainwashing we receive: romantic love is the purpose of life and sex is the panacea. This message is drilled into our head by almost every song ever written. The other lie is that there's someone out there who is perfect for you!
These illusions turn us into emotional cripples searching for our "other-half," instead of building a realistic relationship with another flawed and flatulent person like our selves.
The popular conception of "soul mate" is someone who will satisfy our every need and give us our divinity. The concept never includes the sacrifices we will have to make for them. I can't think of a more selfish concept.
Marriage shouldn't be based on something as ephemeral as "love," which usually means sex appeal. It should be based on mutual dependence, respect and trust. Marriage is a bargain we make and keep.
Assuming you've married a reasonably decent person, instead of focusing on how she misses your ideal, concentrate on how, in fact, she is ideal for you, i.e. how her "bad qualities" are actually good ones.
For example, my wife doesn't share my politics. But that means our time together is a break from work!
You may have the perfect marriage and not know it.
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Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at