Coquelicot Gilland

Coquelicot's work has evolved through her more than 20 years of experience of being a minister with the Association & Integration of the Whole Person (AIWP). To every session, Coquelicot brings her intuition and vast knowledge base. Then she gets out of the way to let something else arise; she makes room for a larger knowledge, and invites grace to enter. Coquelicot has a capacity for deep listening, listening beyond the limits of her personality and academic learning. By dropping and melting into something much larger than herself, she becomes simultaneously a student and a teacher, a facilitator and a catalyst. From there, she supports people to free themselves from the internal obstacles that block their innate ability to access this source directly.

The Good Marriage - How and Why Love Lasts

Judith S. Wallerstein & Sandra Blakeslee

The Fifth Task: Making a Safe Place for Conflict
The fifth task of marriage is to build a relationship that is safe for the expression of difference, conflict, and anger. The appealing notions that a good marriage is conflict-free and that good communication can avoid anger have gained popularity. But every married person knows that "conflict-free marriage" is an oxymoron. In reality it is neither possible nor desirable. Marriage can inhibit conflict or forbid its expression. People can and do maintain a facade of sweet accord, especially in public. When I was growing up, it was not considered proper for a wife to express a view in public that differed from her husband's. But in a contemporary marriage it is expected that husbands and wives will have different opinions. More important, they can't avoid having serious collisions on big issues that defy compromise.

There is no way, for example, to have half a child or one and a half children. One couple in the study had their only fight that came close to violence over whether to have a second child. She wanted the child desperately, and he felt they could not financially support a larger family. There is no way to live in the city and in the country or to live near his family and her family and at the same time live far from both. One partner cannot take a job in California and the other a job in New York without radically changing the nature of the couple's relationship. Communication and negotiation and compromise are surely desirable, but they do not banish serious conflicts, nor do they help people deal with the sacrifices entailed or the serious disappointments that individuals sometimes suffer, whichever way the decision falls.

Living closely with another person while bringing up children and making way for the needs, wishes, and even whims of other family members inevitably creates frustrations. And who among us is able to give up independence and selfishness without a struggle?

As Tina and Marty and others in the study have shown us, powerful, primitive angers stemming from early childhood are revivified by the very closeness of the marital relationship. These angers often figure prominently in the rescue marriage, but they occur in all marriages, although less dramatically. One woman in a romantic marriage told me that when her husband got discouraged about his work, it re-minded her of her father's many depressions. She said, "I get freaked out at the thought that my husband is just like my father, and I start to attack him. When this coincides with my menstrual period, it can get out of control." Powerful feelings rooted in early-life traumas often do not respond to mediation or compromise.

The conflicts of marriage have many sources. One source is the financial conflicts of marriage as a business partnership in which two people are pulling sometimes together and sometimes in different directions. And clashing agendas are inherent in the intense emotional relationship between a man and a woman, which inevitably evokes passionate feelings from long ago.

Conflict goes with the territory of marriage. Happy and unhappy marriages alike face the same demons, but in a poor marriage they tear at the fabric of the relationship and may destroy it. In a good marriage the demons are carefully contained. What is the difference? What prevents anger from breaking the marriage apart? What makes it a zone of safety that the couple finds so reassuring?

The happily married couples I spoke with were frank in acknowledging their serious differences over the years. Many described vividly remembered stormy episodes. They spoke thoughtfully about the serious differences that divided them and discussed how they had kept these conflicts from disrupting the marriage. Their advice was realistic and pragmatic. As one husband said, "You don't need brakes until you're in danger of going out of control."

What emerged from these interviews was not only that conflict was ubiquitous but that these couples considered learning to disagree and to stand one's ground one of the gifts of a good marriage. Submissiveness by one partner and unthinking conformity were not valued. In fact, many couples spoke of their first quarrel as a cornerstone of the marriage, a chance to see each other in a new light. Conflict taught them a lot about the fears each had about expressing anger and about being the victim of the other's aggression. Those who were frightened of aggression were vastly relieved when the expected catastrophe did not occur. Everyone survived.
We fear conflict because we fear retaliation. We fear our own anger and our partner's anger for its destructive potential. We are afraid that if we lose our temper or disagree strongly, we will be rejected- or abandoned by our partner. The high incidence of divorce gives people good reason to be frightened by intense disagreements and anger; the men and women in these happy marriages learned not to threaten to leave in the heat of an argument. It was understood that the quarrel did not signify the end of the marriage.

One woman explained this very well. "Whenever I said, 'That's it, I've had it,' he would take it seriously and think, Oh, my God, she's leaving. Finally I had to say to him, 'Look here. I'm going to get really mad, very, very upset, but I'm not going anywhere.' I had to reassure him that I could get really angry and say all sorts of things, but I was not going to leave. That gave him a safe environment to be able to fight back."
Thus the first step in establishing a safety zone where strong anger can be expressed freely is to make it clear that the fighting will not breach the walls of the marriage. Both partners have to feel sure that their relationship is secure. If one or both partners have experienced abandonment, either as a child or as an adult, this message needs to be reiterated many times.

A good marriage provides a holding environment for aggression. Broadly speaking, the couple's love and friendship, the togetherness they have built, their shared interests and history, including the children, all combine to provide the overall structure that contains the aggression. The ties that unite them are far stronger than the forces that divide them. Their awareness of this strength acts as a powerful deterrent to letting things fly out of control. It enables one person to interrupt the anger out of concern for the other and for the marriage. As one woman described it, "When things get too hot between us, I say to him, 'We don't want to do this to each other.' That stops us both."

Conflict in a good marriage occurs within a context of connectedness and caring. An important part of the structure that protects the couple is the rules they devise together. All of the couples in the study had a clear, inviolable rule that physical violence was unacceptable. It was understood that a physical attack would break the marriage. Even when someone was carried away by a tantrum, he or she stopped short of violence. Marty described vividly how he curbed his rage. But the loss of temper and regaining of control just in time was mentioned in all of the kinds of marriages.

One husband said, "Sometimes I get angry at her, and we get into a shouting match. Sometimes I just don't say anything and walk out of the room. Other times I've taken one of her hats and put my foot through it. Once I threw her birthday cake down the stairs. Once I threw a chair off the balcony. But we have never touched each other in anger. She has never pushed me, and I have never pushed her. We've never done anything physically harmful to each other in twenty-nine years."

The recognition of absolute boundaries is very useful, not only as protection from harm but as a constraint that must be observed. In these marriages everyone understood that some remarks, once said, cannot be unsaid. Some actions, once done, cannot be undone. All understood that rules, while providing safety, did not forbid heated argument. One of the satisfactions of a strong marriage is being able to state your mind without fear of dire consequences. But even in a tantrum, restraint is required.

The rules about physical violence were especially reassuring to former victims of abuse. One woman said, "It was very nice to learn to fight and to know that no one was going to hurt me ever. This has never been an issue. I've always felt safe fighting with him. There is a basic trust that we have for each other." This woman made it very clear that the goal was not to eliminate fighting but to make it safe for both partners.

Each couple had their own rules to contain conflict. One couple decided that a problem had to be brought up within forty-eight hours of the upset. Another ruled that it was taboo to bring up old arguments: "Once it's over, it's over," they said emphatically. Several forbade going to bed angry at each other. Some couples did not blanch it property was destroyed in an argument. Marty showed me where he had damaged a wall of their house — behavior that other couples might draw the line at. Some marriages permitted a great deal of anger; others were more constrained.

These couples also used guidelines as to the domains that could be fought about and those that were considered off-limits or areas of continuing agreement. The guidelines varied, but all of the couples had some taboos. In most cases this understanding had evolved slowly, often wordlessly, as they learned each other's vulnerabilities. Fighting about religious differences was out of bounds. In religiously mixed marriages, the issue of which faith to raise the children in was settled early on, though rarely without argument and compromise. They complained to each other about the frequency or infrequency of sex or about lateness or overwork or household chores, but they did not fight about these matters. Nor did they fight about having to take care of aging or ill parents; indeed, they went out of their way to make compassionate plans. They did not fight about personal preferences —the opera versus a baseball game. If the two partners did not share an interest, most would attend functions separately and not impose on the other.

Most of all, the people in these marriages did not fight over non-issues. They recognized that the pressures of life and the defeats of the workplace ricocheted into the marriage. They understood intuitively that a man or woman who was humiliated at work and came home to yell at a spouse or child, kick the dog, or sit incommunicado in front of the TV set was not being deliberately provocative. They knew how worry could lead someone to provoke a quarrel and how satisfying but useless it was to blame everyone but oneself when things went awry. They were realists. As one man said, "We would have the same stresses in our life no matter whom we married."

These couples did fight over autonomy, money, and work. Some men wanted their wives to work, while others wanted them to stay at home. In some cases conflict rose to a crescendo when the children left home and the hard-working husband felt jealous of his wife's new freedom to pursue hobbies or go back to school. Arguments about the intrusiveness of in-laws could be intense, especially after the birth of the first child. One woman told me emphatically, "The only thing that would break this marriage is his busybody mother." Arguments erupted over the best way to handle children, especially teenagers and stepchildren.

Very heated arguments arose about who should handle the money from two incomes, who should pay which bills, and how the money should be allocated. The allocation of funds was an especially sore spot in second marriages because of the need to negotiate the conflicting interests of several families and two or more sets of children.

Fights, usually short-lived but explosive, also arose over suspected infidelity. As one woman told me, "We don't have many fights, but sometimes I go crazy with jealousy for no good reason. Maybe it's in my Spanish background. Once he had a back injury and I thought that he was falling in love with his very attractive nurse. So I stomped out. He got very angry and told me that I had gone mad. But I just couldn't hear him. Then I saw my daughter crying, and I said to myself, what the hell are you doing? And I stopped."

Some of the most distressing arguments arose over smoking and drinking. In one marriage the husband and wife sat in the car to argue, to avoid upsetting the children. She told him that passive smoke was a proven carcinogen, and while the children were young he could not smoke in their home. He could do what he wanted outside. The man admitted that the request was reasonable, but he was furious. He punished her by not talking to her except when absolutely necessary for three months. Then he accepted the injunction on his smoking and they resumed their customary relationship.

In several families, drinking became an issue when unemployment threatened. Usually the women were quick to say that the behavior was not acceptable. As one wife said, "I was clear as a bell." When other couples found themselves in similar difficulties, they confronted the situation quickly, clearly defining the consequences for the marriage. The spouses who were called on the carpet later told me that they resented the ultimatums at the time but later forgave their partner.

One of the most interesting mechanisms that these couples used to keep the expression of anger under control was by maintaining their awareness of themselves and the other even when the fighting was stormy. They made a special point of knowing each other's vulnerabilities, and they were very careful to avoid rubbing salt into old wounds. I had the sense that they read imaginary dials in each other's gestures, words, and expressions. Each dial registered the mood, the depth of upset, and the impending approach of the hurricane stage. This awareness helped them regulate their own feelings and behavior. As one woman said, "After all these years, we are both aware of each other's vulnerable spots. That doesn't mean we don't sometimes touch them. We are human. But it does mean that we both have more respect for not treading on them." They also had some awareness of their own danger points. "I have a terrible temper," said one man. "I had to learn to control it; otherwise we would have had a terrible time." A woman said, "The way we fight is that I freak out and he calms me down:'

It is a major feat to take responsibility for one's own and one's partner's behavior — and still disagree with passion. I do not know if these couples acquired this ability in the marriage or if each one had it before they met. I am reluctant to conclude that it reflects their mastery of negotiation skills, because there is little evidence that skill played a part. What did contribute was their maturity and sensitivity to the partner's needs, their ability to remain connected even in anger, their sense of fairness, and their internal brakes, which were in good working order. Also they were able to distinguish between little problems and big ones, between minor compromises and those that give away one's heart's desire. They were willing to take an equal part in maintaining the marriage in lieu of "having it all" in solitary splendor.

Conclusion : Marriage as a Transformative Experience
As I come to the end of writing this book, I think about my own marriage, as I have so often in the course of the study.

I am aware of the physical changes of aging in my body: my right knee is getting stiff with arthritis, and I walk more slowly than before. When my husband and I walk together, as we do daily, I notice that he has slowed his pace because of my infirmity. Of course he is aware that he is getting less exercise, but that thought is not at the center of his consciousness, and he does not expect me to express my gratitude. It goes without saying that he will accommodate to my need and we will both walk more slowly.

When we return home, he usually has some tasks he urgently wants to attend to, and that is fine with me; I know that if he doesn't do them he will be unhappy. I am also aware that he, too, is less flexible than he used to be. So I postpone conversation until he has finished his work. I expect no appreciative comment from him. This is the give-and-take of life, and this is what marriage is about: keeping up, not getting too far ahead and not falling behind.

Marriage is made up of little things, and it is the little things that count, both the good and the bad. The little changes, too, add to the important rhythms of life. The changing interactions between my husband and me are part of this major chapter in our married life. We are building a marriage now just as surely as when we were younger, as surely as when we returned from our honeymoon and started out on our life together. The thousand and one changes in our relation-ship, in observing each other and adjusting to each other, are no different today. Except that we are better at it — we have had a lot of practice. Strangely enough, it is these little things, the ebb and flow of the relationship, that so many couples cannot manage.

I bring this book to a close with mixed feelings of exhilaration and sadness. From my encounters with the couples in the study I have learned a great deal about building a happy marriage, even beyond my own high expectations. I have also learned about the rigors of maintaining one's adulthood and of being a parent amid the pressures of contemporary society. It has been a wonderful experience to spend time with couples who are thriving, who have held on to friendship and love for each other and for their children in a society in which divorce has become commonplace.

The people in these good marriages did not all start off with advantages. They came from a wide range of backgrounds: a few rich, most modest, some dirt-poor. A lucky few had parents who loved each other, but more came from marriages they perceived as unhappy. Most were eager to create a marriage that would be different from and happier than the one in which they were raised. In this they succeeded. Each couple created an emotionally rich, enduring relationship that was designed to their liking. They were frank with me about the pleasures of the marriage and also about the areas in which they felt pinched or disappointed. Their generosity has led me to new knowledge that can be put to immediate use by other married couples. I take leave of them with affection and deep gratitude.

I will miss having almost everyone I meet at social gatherings ask me anxiously, "What have you found out?" — and then wait for a one-line answer. It is truly distressing to hear over and over again how worried most of us are and how eager we all are for a message that will give us some control over the most intimate aspects of our lives.

I shall also miss the wonderfully condensed responses I received when I turned the question back to the asker. My all-time favorite: "Do I know what makes a happy marriage?" said a woman, laughing. "A bad memory." She had a point. Surely, being able to forget the day-to-day disappointments and keep one's eyes on the big issues is what is needed to make a marriage go. And in fact separating the trivial from the important is one of the great gifts of a sense of humor. No one would gainsay the usefulness of humor in sweetening the stresses of marriage and raising children. But in truth there are no one-line answers to the question of what makes a marriage happy.

What then are the secrets? How do a man and a woman who meet as strangers create a relationship that will satisfy them both throughout their lives?

First, the answer to the question I started with — what do people define as happy in their marriage? — turned out to be straightforward. For everyone, happiness in marriage meant feeling respected and cherished. Without exception, these couples mentioned the importance of liking and respecting each other and the pleasure and comfort they took in each other's company. Some spoke of the passionate love that began their relationship, but for a surprising number love grew in the rich soil of the marriage, nourished by emotional and physical intimacy, appreciation, and fond memories. Some spoke of feeling well cared for, others of feeling safe, and still others of friendship and trust. Many talked about the family they had created together. But all felt that they were central to their partner's world and believed that creating the marriage and the family was the major commitment of their adult life. For most, marriage and children were the achievements in which they took the greatest pride.

For these couples, respect was based on integrity; a partner was admired and loved for his or her honesty, compassion, generosity of spirit, decency, loyalty to the family, and fairness. An important aspect of respect was admiration of the partner as a sensitive, conscientious parent. The value these couples placed on the partner's moral qualities was an unexpected finding. It helps explain why many divorcing people speak so vehemently of losing respect for their former partner. The love that people feel in a good marriage goes with the conviction that the person is worthy of being loved.

These people were realists. No one denied that there were serious differences — conflict, anger, even some infidelity — along the way. No one envisioned marriage as a rose garden, but all viewed its satisfactions as far outweighing the frustrations over the long haul. Most regarded frustrations, big and small, as an inevitable aspect of life that would follow them no matter whom they married. Everyone had occasional fantasies about the roads not taken, but their commitment to the marriage withstood the impulse to break out.
Above all, they shared the view that their partner was special in some important regard and that the marriage enhanced each of them as individuals. They felt that the fit between their own needs and their
partner's responses was unique and probably irreplaceable. In this they considered themselves very lucky, not entitled.

Their marriages had benefited from the new emphasis in our society on equality in relationships between men and women. However they divided up the chores of the household and of raising the children, the couples agreed that men and women had equal rights and responsibilities within the family. Women have taken many casualties in the long fight to achieve equality, and many good men have felt beleaguered, confused, and angry about this contest. But important goals have been achieved: marriages today allow for greater flexibility and greater choice. Relationships are more mature on both sides and more mutually respectful. A couple's sex life can be freer and more pleasurable. Today's men and women meet on a playing field that is more level than ever before.

Unlike many unhappy families, these couples provided no evidence for the popular notion that there is a "his" marriage and a "her" marriage. On the contrary, the men and women were very much in accord. I did not see significant differences between husbands and wives in their goals for the marriage, in their capacity for love and friendship, in their interest in sex, in their desire to have children, or in their love and commitment to the children. They fully shared the credit for the success of the marriage and the family. Both men and women said, "Everything we have we did together."

Although some men were inhibited in their expression of feelings at the beginning of the marriage, as compared with their wives, I did not find much difference between the sexes in their ability to express emotions over the course of their relationship. Both spoke easily of their love for their partner. In response to my questioning, both men and women cried when they contemplated losing the other.
The children were central, both as individuals and as symbols of a shared vision, giving pleasure and sometimes unexpected meaning to the parents' lives and to the marriage. As the couples reported to me in detail, the children reflected their love and pride. And this powerful bond did not diminish when the children left home.

As I compared the happily married couples with the thousands of divorcing couples I have seen in the past twenty-five years, it was clear that these men and women had early on created a firm basis for their relationship and had continued to build it together. Many of the couples that divorced failed to lay such a foundation and did not understand the need to reinforce it over the years. Many marriages broke because the structure was too weak to hold in the face of life's vicissitudes. The happy couples regarded their marriage as a work in progress that needed continued attention lest it fall into disrepair. Even in retirement they did not take each other for granted. Far too many divorcing couples fail to understand that a marriage does not just spring into being after the ceremony. Neither the legal nor the religious ceremony makes the marriage. People do, throughout their lives.

What is the work that builds a happy marriage? What should people know about and what should they do? On the basis of the study I proposed nine psychological tasks that challenge men and women throughout their life together. These tasks, the building blocks of the marriage, are not imposed on the couple from the outside; they are inherent in a relationship in today's world. If the issues represented by each psychological task are not addressed, the marriage is likely to fail, whether the couple divorces or remains legally married. The tasks begin at the start of the marital journey and are continually renegotiated. A good marriage is always being reshaped so that the couple can stay in step with each other and satisfy their changing needs and wishes.
The first task is to detach emotionally from the families of child-hood, commit to the relationship, and build new connections with the extended families. Husband and wife help each other complete the transition into adulthood or, in a second marriage, detach from a prior relationship and commit emotionally to the new partner.

The second task is to build togetherness through intimacy and to expand the sense of self to include the other, while each individual carves out an area of autonomy. The overarching identification with the other provides the basis for bonding. As one man put it succinctly, "In a good marriage, it can't be Me-Me-Me, it's gotta be Us-Us-Us." Exactly! But within the new unity, there must be room for autonomy; otherwise there is no true equality. These two early tasks launch the marriage.

The third task is to expand the circle to include children, taking on the daunting roles of parenthood from infancy to the time when the child leaves home, while maintaining the emotional richness of the marriage. The challenge of this task is to maintain a balance between raising the children and nurturing the couple's relationship.

The fourth task is to confront the inevitable developmental challenges and the unpredictable adversities of life, including illness, death, and natural disasters, in ways that enhance the relationship despite suffering. Every crisis carries within it the seeds of destruction as well as the possibility of renewed strength. Managing stress is the key to having a marriage that can reinvent itself at each turning rather than one that becomes a shadow of its former self.

The fifth task is to make the relationship safe for expressing difference, anger, and conflict, which are inevitable in any marriage. All close relationships involve love and anger, connectedness and disruption. The task is to find ways to resolve the differences without exploiting each other, being violent, or giving away one's heart's desire. Conflict ran high among several couples in this group, but I saw no evidence that conflict by itself wrecks a marriage.

The sixth task is to establish an imaginative and pleasurable sex life. Creating a sexual relationship that meets the needs and fantasies of both people requires time and love and sensitivity. Because a couple's sex life is vulnerable to interference by the stresses of work and by family life, and because sexual desire changes, often unpredictably, over the life course, this aspect of the marriage requires special protection in order to flourish.

The seventh task is to share laughter and humor and to keep interest alive in the relationship. A good marriage is alternately playful and serious, sometimes flirtatious, sometimes difficult and cranky, but always full of life.

The eighth task is to provide the emotional nurturance and encouragement that all adults need throughout their lives, especially in to-day's isolating urban communities and high-pressure workplaces.
Finally, the ninth task is the one that sustains the innermost core of the relationship by drawing sustenance and renewal from the images and fantasies of courtship and early marriage and maintaining that joyful glow over a lifetime. But these images, nourished by the partners' imaginations, must be combined with a realistic view of the changes wrought by time. It is this double image that keeps love alive in the real world.
I have learned from these happily married couples that marriages come in different shapes and sizes. Under today's looser rules a marriage can be custom-made by the couple to an extent their grandparents never dreamed possible. I have therefore suggested a typology of marriage to capture what I have observed in this study. This typology includes romantic, rescue, companionate, and traditional marriages. Second marriages can belong to any of these groups. I suspect that more types will emerge in the future as marriage continues to reflect people's changing emotional needs and values.

No marriage provides for all the wishes and needs that people bring to it. Although every good marriage provides many satisfactions, each type maximizes different rewards and exacts a different price. In each type the psychological tasks are resolved differently. The kind and degree of togetherness and autonomy vary, as does the importance of children, work, and sexual passion. The values on which the marriage is built differ among the types, although they overlap. Children growing up in each kind of marriage have quite different experiences.

Moreover, the various types of marriages require different kinds of support from society. For traditional marriages to succeed, society must offer jobs that pay enough money for one parent to support the family while the other raises the children. Society also must provide economic and educational opportunities for the child-rearing parent when the children have grown up. Similarly, for companionate marriages to flourish, society must ensure that workplace demands are not allowed to overwhelm the marriage and the family. Companionate couples also need good-quality child care and enlightened personnel policies so that they do not have to make anguished choices between the demands of work and of family, especially at times of crisis.
I have tried to show the importance of the fit between the couple and the kind of marriage they create. The idea that different people seek different kinds of marriages has important practical implications. If couples understand in advance that each kind of marriage poses different hazards and requires different tending, they can anticipate where problems are likely to develop and take steps to resolve them. The deepest satisfaction of the romantic marriage is that it gratifies the desire for passionate love, which in some cases is reinforced by the powerful wish to restore a beloved figure lost in childhood. By their nature, romantic marriages absorb most of a couple's emotional in-vestment, and one hazard is that the children may feel peripheral to the couple's relationship.

The rescue marriage is often less emotionally intense than the romantic marriage; its great contribution is in allowing people to revise their sorrowful expectations of life. People who have suffered severe traumas are freed to pursue their lives, because the marriage gives them strength. But there is danger that the old problems will reemerge, either in the couple's relationship or between parent and child. Romantic and rescue marriages are not subject to voluntary choice, but in each type the tasks can be resolved and the marriage shaped to avoid the most likely hazards.

Companionate marriage does represent a choice, based on the couple's commitment to two careers or economic necessity or both. At its best, companionate marriage provides the gratifications of family life and the rewards of a successful career for both partners. But each individual's separate path may supersede the togetherness that happy marriage requires, leading to the loss of intimacy and emotional connectedness. Or child care may be delegated to others to the point that neither parent is primary in the child's upbringing.
Traditional marriage can meet people's needs for a home and a stable family life and provide comfort and nurturance for both adults and children. But the danger in a traditional marriage is that the partners' lives may become increasingly separate. And at midlife, when the all-absorbing tasks of child rearing are over and the tasks of the marriage need to be negotiated anew, the partners may feel estranged from each other.

A good marriage, I have come to understand, is transformative. The prevailing psychological view has been that the central dimensions of personality are fully established in childhood. But from my observations, men and women come to adulthood unfinished, and over the course of a marriage they change each other profoundly. The very act of living closely together for a long time brings about inner change, not just conscious accommodation. The physical closeness of sex and marriage has its counterpart in psychological closeness and mutual identification.

As the men and women in good marriages respond to their partner's emotional and sexual needs and wishes, they grow and influence each other. The needs of one's partner and children become as important as one's own needs. Ways of thinking, self-image, self-esteem, and values all have the potential for change. The second marriages show clearly that the capacity of men and women to love each other passionately revives in their relationship despite early disappointments. The power of marriage to bring about change is especially evident in rescue marriages. As I have described, people who have been severely traumatized during childhood are able, with the help of a loving relationship, to restore their self-esteem.

A willingness to reshape the marriage in response to new circum-stances and a partner's changing needs and desires is an important key to success. All of the couples in the study understood that unless they renegotiated the tasks of the relationship at key points, one or both partners would be unhappy. There are shaky tittles in every marriage. Many life-course changes, such as the birth of a baby or a child's adolescence, can be anticipated, but others, such as major illness or job loss, cannot. At all of these times, emotional changes in the individual coincide with external changes. If the couple does not take steps to protect it, the marriage may be in peril. These couples succeeded in reshaping their relationship at each major crossroads so that it continued to fit their needs. All mentioned that they had experienced many different marriages within their one enduring relationship.

I have learned a great deal about the intimate connectedness of a good marriage. It became clear to me early on that popular notions about marital communication failed to capture the subtlety of the daily interactions between these men and women. They had learned that a little tact goes a long way, that sometimes silence is golden, and that timing is everything. They listened carefully to each other and tried to speak both honestly and tactfully. But they recognized intuitively that true communication in marriage extends far beyond words. It involves paying attention to changing moods, facial expressions, body language, and the many other cues that reveal inner states of mind. It means knowing each other's history and catching the echoes and behaviors that reverberate from the past. It includes knowing enough about the other so that at critical times one can take an imaginative leap inside the other's skin. That is what empathy in a marriage is about.
These were not talents that came naturally to all of these people, nor were these individuals necessarily empathic in other domains of their lives. They learned to listen and to be sensitive to their partner's cues because they wanted the marriage to work; they had learned that by anticipating a partner's distress, they could protect themselves and the marriage.

These couples also understood that symbolically a marriage is al-ways much greater than the sum of its parts. It is enriched by the continued presence of fantasy. When the marriage is successful, it represents a dream come true, the achievement of full adulthood. Tragically, when it fails, the symbolic loss may cause enormous suffering. The home these couples created gave them both real and symbolic pleasure because they felt strongly that it was their own creation. Their pleasure in each other, especially during times of leisure and reflection, represented more than current satisfaction; it represented the fulfillment of wishes extending way back to the dreams of early childhood.

Finally, I learned again, as I have learned many times over from the divorced couples I have worked with, the extraordinary threats that contemporary society poses to marriage. The stresses of the workplace and its fierce impact on the couple are writ large in the lives of these families, no matter what their economic level. Their stories told and retold how few supports newly married couples have to keep them together and how many powerful forces pull them apart. As the younger couples made clear, the whole world seems to invade the couple's private time together.

Americans today work long hours, yet during the early years of marriage, money is often hard to come by, even in professional occupations. Working for a big firm can be exciting for someone ascending the ladder of success, but it does not provide the latitude for creativity that many crave or the individuality that everyone needs. And because the corporate world is so impersonal, the emotional bonds of the couple and family are even more important, but the time and energy to enjoy them are substantially and cruelly curtailed.
Marriage is hard work partly because raising children is hard work; there is insufficient time before bedtime each day and not enough hands for the tasks that were supposed to have been cut by laborsaving devices but somehow weren't. Marriage is also hard because so many people come from unhappy families, whether the family split up or remained together; those who grew up in such families often carry deep hungers from childhood. Marriage is a high-risk venture because the threat of divorce is everywhere, as these couples all knew.

Because of societal pressures and the essential loneliness of modern life, marriage serves many purposes in today's world. It is our only refuge. The couples in the study were realistically aware that they had to fulfill many needs for each other; there are not many opportunities at work or elsewhere in society for gratifying our desires for friendship, comfort, love, reassurance, and self-expression. These couples wanted a marriage that could respond to all these complex needs without breaking. They discovered anew each day the many ways in which they helped each other and how pleased and proud they were of the marriage they had created.

A good marriage is more than the happy possession of an individual couple and their children. It is this unit, which represents us at our civilized best, that shapes adults and children. More than any other human institution, marriage is the vehicle for transmitting our values to future generations. Ultimately it is our loving connections that give life meaning. Through intimate relationships we enlarge our vision of life and diminish our preoccupation with self. We are at our most considerate, our most loving, our most selfless within the orbit of a good family. Only within a satisfying marriage can a man and woman create the emotional intimacy and moral vision that they alone can bequeath to their children.
These findings on marriage are hopeful and reassuring. The guide-lines I have developed to help couples as they start out and at later points along the way are realistic. But given the pressures of contemporary American society, it is clear that marriage is a serious game for adult players, whether they begin as adults or become adults in the play.

As I write these final paragraphs, my thoughts turn to my grand-mother and to Nikki, my youngest grandchild. My grandmother, who brought her three young children to the new land in the hold of a ship and raised them by herself, knew exactly what she wanted for me. When I was growing up, she used to sing Yiddish folk songs about love and marriage, about mysterious suitors from distant lands. Whom will you marry? the songs asked. Her hopes for me were built on her own tears. My future happy marriage and my unborn healthy children made her sacrifice worthwhile.

Nikki has just turned four. She has recently demoted her twenty or so stuffed bears, puppies, kittens, even her beloved tiger, to the foot of her bed. They who were her special joy hardly have her attention now. She has entered a new phase. I am to address her as "Princess" when I call. (The great advantage of grandmothers, I have discovered, is that they follow instructions, whereas mothers issue instructions.) She is Princess Jasmine, and she awaits Aladdin. She is practicing at being a grown-up young lady, preparing for the future with all the energy and devotion that she brought to caring for her animals. No one works harder or with greater purpose than a child at play.

What do I want for Nikki? The roads that were so clear to my grandmother have become harder to follow. They fork often and sometimes lead to a dead end. Some directions, however, are still visible. I, too, want my granddaughter to be strong and brave and virtuous. I want her to love and be loved passionately and gently and proudly by a man worth loving. I want her to experience the joys and terrors of raising children. But far beyond what my grand-mother envisioned for me, I want Nikki to have the choices in life that I and many others had to fight for, real choices that the community will respect and support. And I want her to know how to choose wisely and understand how to make it all work. I hope that Nikki finds the Aladdin that she has started to look for. If he comes flying into her life on a magic carpet, so much the better. This book contains her legacy, a set of annotated maps for their journey.

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Coquelicot teaches didactically, experientially and by example. She brings to each session a lifetime's worth of tools, exercises and practices that I use at home to further my own development. Her genius combines intuition, sensing and a comprehensive knowledge of human emotional and biological development. What I've learned from her has not only given me a deeper understanding of my own patterns, dynamics and behaviors, it's also enhanced my understanding of others. I am a far more compassionate person thanks Coquelicot. In fact to the degree that I am a more evolved being in any regard, Coquelicot was instrumental in my transformation.

-L. M. Artist and wellness ally

"Dear God:

Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life. Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind. Erase the will nots,
may nots,
might nots that may find a home in my heart.
Release me from the could nots, would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.
And most of all,
Dear God,
I ask that you remove from my mind,
my heart and my life, all of the 'am nots' that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough. Amen."
- Author unknown, The Knots Prayer

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