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Dr Shelagh Wright - Systemic and Family Psychotherapist and Family Mediator

I've Been Thinking - Dr Shelagh's Blog


Relationships are a very important part of our lives. It can be a very fulfilling and exciting experience, whether you are in a brand new relationship or you've been together for 20 years or more. Being in a relationship is all about change, flexibility and understanding. Relationships are about, facing the world together, through the good and the bad times we all face in life.

People sometimes go through rough patches in their relationships this doesn't necessarily mean your relationship is in trouble. Most relationships experience difficult times it's a normal part of life. Understanding how you deal with tough situations is important in helping you work through your issues as a couple and a family.

Learning how to face your differences and resolve issues so that you are both happy is a valuable skill to learn. It can assist in learning more about yourself and your partner and through the process you can help each other to grow. It is important for you to feel valued it is important that you value your partner and listen to each other's beliefs and opinions even if at times you do not understand them. Relationships are a partnership in which both people need to feel valued, accepted safe and loved.

Relationships however do not come with an instruction booklet so sometimes people need to seek outside help to enable them to manage some of the changes that are required when two people want to spend their lives together. Both people have to compromise and adapt to change that is influenced by their partner. This process can stir up all sorts of emotions and reactions around not feeling valued, respect, heard, taken seriously amongst others. At times like these when it is more difficult to negotiate rationally with one another a therapist trained in working with couples can help. The therapist is someone who is not emotionally involved and therefore usually able to help the couple to move beyond their feelings and discuss what they each want out of the relationship/marriage.

External and Internal Demands for Change

External and Internal Demands for Change

History Of Marriage In Society

A marriage is a committed relationship between or among individuals, recognized by civil authority and/or bound by the religious beliefs of the participants. This dual nature, a binding legal contract plus a moral promise, makes marriage difficult to characterize.

In one form or another, marriage is found in virtually every society. The very oldest records that refer to it speak of it as an established custom. Despite attempts by anthropologists to trace its origin (such as the hypothesis of primitive promiscuity), evidence is lacking.

Typically, marriage is the institution through which people join together their lives in emotional and economic ways through forming a household. It often confers rights and obligations with respect to raising children, holding property, sexual behavior, kinship ties, tribal membership, relationship to society, inheritance, emotional intimacy, and love.

Marriage sometimes establishes the legal father of a woman's child; establishes the legal mother of a man's child; gives the husband or his family control over the wife's sexual services, labor, and/or property; gives the wife or her family control over the husband's sexual services, labor, and/or property; establishes a joint fund of property for the benefit of children; establishes a relationship between the families of the husband and wife. No society does all of these; no one of these is universal (see Edmund Leach's article in "Marriage, Family, and Residence," edited by Paul Bohannan and John Middleton).

Marriage has traditionally been a prerequisite for starting a family, which usually serves as the building block of a community and society. Thus, marriage not only serves the interests of the two individuals, but also the interests of their children and the society of which they are a part.

Marriage remains important as the socially sanctioned bond in a sexual relationship. Marriage is usually understood as a male-female relationship designed to produce children and successfully socialize them. Historically, most societies have allowed some form of polygamy. The West is a major exception. Europe and the United States have defined themselves as monogamous cultures. This was in part a Germanic cultural tradition, a requirement of Christianity (after the sixth century AD) and a mandate of Roman Law. However, Roman Law supported prostitution, concubinage, sex outside of marriage, homosexual sex, and sexual access to slaves. The Christian West formally banned these practices.

The majority of people recognise the family as the natural grouping upon which society and culture are based, and guarantee to protect the institution in their constitutions both as the source of social order and as indispensable to the future welfare of their nations. Hence, marriage tends to be treated as a moral institution (with or without religious significance) and those who achieve the status of spouse are vested with a number of rights which can only be varied or terminated by court order. In the United States , some states, usually because of their prevailing religion, either prohibit or discourage termination by divorce. But the majority of more secular states and the United Kingdom make no fault divorce a relatively automatic process to reflect the reality that the marriage has broken down, sometimes without the need for both parties to attend at a hearing. This has caused a major shift in social policy in many countries because, if divorce is no longer of major juridical significance in the majority of states around the world, the rules for the international recognition and enforcement of foreign divorces also no longer require cautiously framed rules.