By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, February 8, 2012
He likes the glow in her eyes and she is fond of his charismatic countenance. Those attributes of partners that captivate the mind and enslave the heart are as miscellaneous as people’s views on love and life prospects. Yet, the choice of the life partner remains enshrined in a set of individual expectations and compelling social considerations. It is also of note that such decisions are considered by many as the road of no return, which means that the slightest mistake or mismatch among spouses may have unpleasant and long lasting repercussions. Indeed, it must be a bitter vexation to see your fate sealed with the “wrong” person. There is of course room for acceptance and adjustment but this effort often comes at the expense of intrinsic desires left unquenched. How can we maximize our chances of choosing the right life partner?
Unfortunately there is no ready-made answer or a three-step procedure liable to lessen the overwhelming caution before one can hit the iron. The good news, nevertheless, is that there are considerations that can be taken into account and surprisingly those elements pertain more to the individual’s personality than to the partner’s attributes. It simply means that substantial introspective work is needed when pondering the suitability of a life partner. Many would not totally agree with some Freudian concepts such as the castration anxiety and the Oedipus complex, yet we cannot possibly measure our ability to live jointly with a partner “in good times and bad times, in sickness and in health” without delving deeply into our psyche and venture into its dense ramifications to rekindle some childhood memories as Freud preaches.
One must admit that there are no generally accepted rules about the perfect partner’s attributes. Nevertheless there are general tendencies that are observed in human behavior and equally in different cultures as far as the selection of mate is concerned. Thus, it is also commonplace that both women and men lend themselves to different experiences in a quest of the “right” partner. Despite the fact that those benchmarks are not stated explicitly, men and women keep the list of attributes saved in the deep recess of their minds. For instance men would insist that their partner pass the filter of physical appearance. There is a tacit consensus within the male community over the primacy of acceptable or attractive looks in their choice of mate. On the other hand, Argyle and Henderson argue that women are charmed by men who are assertive, considerate and reliable. A subtle sense of humor is also treasured by women. In addition, a similarity in background and values is paramount in choosing a permanent partner. The pressing question remains whether these qualities can stand the test of time.
Karen Horney, one of the first female psychiatrists, considers that marriage has heavy demands on both spouses’ psychology. Marriage requires sexual adjustment, a positive psychological attitude towards the partner and readiness to form long lasting ties. In fact, the impact of marriage on the human psyche remains highly debatable. While some psychiatrists claim that marital relations have the merit to ease inner tensions, others like Karen Horney consider that marriage is unlikely to dissipate the clouds hanging over the human psyche. She claims that, “A person who has been sane before marriage can contract a neurosis –or, more accurately marriage can make a hitherto latent neurosis manifest.”
Bearing in mind that marital conflicts can sap the partners’ vitality and sow the seeds of neurosis in their children’s psychological development, it is clamorous to dissect one’s own psychological system before selecting a life partner. Karen Horney argues that there are unconscious motivations that determine the choice of a partner adding that these determinants can be traced back to childhood where the first emotional attachments namely the relationship with parents, siblings and play mates occurred. Thus, emotional stability in adulthood is conditioned by the child psychosexual development. In other terms, happiness in heterosexual relations in adulthood depends on the child’s ability to adapt and transfer infantile love to other love objects throughout his psychological development.
It is noteworthy that the criteria for selection of a mate are inextricably related to the first impressions the child has about the opposite sex parent. A boy who had a threatening mother will more likely feel insecure before women since the woman figure embodies prohibition and constant accountability. Consequently, the female partner’s dissatisfaction will severely wreck his self-esteem. It is also commonplace for men to choose a virtuous woman as a wife, in reference to the sanctity of the mother figure, and to seek also the company of less virtuous or promiscuous women. Horney considers that this ambivalence in emotions is a harbinger of a “split in love that occurred earlier during the boy’s psychosexual development. This split has resulted in paradoxical demands and the persistence of the binary frame of chastity and promiscuity.”
But again, the psychological development of individuals makes countless different paths and looks more like an equation with too many unknowns. There are many variables involved in building the fictitious ideal about the perfect spouse. To reduce the likelihood of failure in mate selection, it is recommended that both men and women deflect the fixation they have about a partner and ponder more the underlying motivations of this attraction. Only then can they have enough visibility and conviction about the perfect match.
Edited by Benjamin Villanti
Loubna Flah earned a master degree in Biochemistry from the Mohammedia faculty of science and technologies. She obtained also a bachelor degree in English studies from Ain Chok University after writing a dissertation about the aspects of sexism in Moroccan Arabic. She graduated from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Rabat as a high school teacher of English. She conducted an empirical research on critical thinking in EFL teaching in Moroccan high schools. She is Morocco World News’ correspondent in Casablanca.
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