Many of our greatest problems arise out of the fact that people insist upon doing what is contrary to their own self interest. The American people are swindled out of millions of dollars every year, which could be saved by a simple telephone call to a Better Business Bureau or a bank.
Why don’t they investigate before they invest? They ruin themselves vocationally by hopping needlessly from one job to another. They ruin their health by dissipations which they know are harmful. They seek as friends those who are certain to get them into trouble, and avoid those who would and could help them. Why?
Poor choices in marriage result not only from bad judgment, or the deceitfulness of glamour and romance. They also can express deep distress of the personality. We can see this distress fairly clearly in marriage “on the rebound.” We understand that a jilted person wants to bolster up his pride and “show” his friends. Therefore he may marry a person whom he would not consider seriously, if he were not under serious emotional stress.
Less easily recognized is the marriage which is entered into to “get even” with someone, usually one’s parents. Children often grow up with strong feelings of resentment against their parents. Such feelings may lead them to select unsuitable marriage partners because the parents will strongly object. Thus the minister’s son who has come to hate his father, marries an atheist. Children of prim, respectable families marry characters who are questionable. Such bases for selection are understandable, but hardly sound.
In other instances, the individual may seek to punish, not his parents, but himself. Feelings of shame and guilt may result in strong desires for punishment. Forms of self-torture, as illustrated by the “Holy Men” of India, or even suicide show the power of such desires.
This punishment may take the form of selecting a marriage partner who is obviously unsuitable. The conscientious girl may marry a known alcoholic to “reform” him, and almost eagerly accept the hardships of the situation as her “cross. Spiritually sensitive men of fine reputation may marry women known to be dissolute.
Many, if not most of the so-called “mistakes in judgment” which wreck marriages result from a lack of mental health. Ignorance may have slain its thousands, but emotional instability has slain its tens of thousands. Many authorities regard mental health as the most important factor in the success of a marriage.
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