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Christine Meinecke, Ph.D.
Christine Meinecke Ph.D.

The One and Only Marital Obligation

Follow this single guideline to marital satisfaction.

As much as we wish it were not so or seek to dress this wolf in sheep's clothing, marriage (like any committed relationship) involves obligation. No amount of denial, bargaining, anger or depression allows us to escape this reality. We all sense it - the burden of knowing that we "owe" our spouse something. But exactly what is it that we owe? Sex? Paychecks? Childcare and household chores? Emotional support?

In the beginning (while we're in the neurochemically-altered state of infatuation), we feel neither obligated nor burdened. We believe that we have found the one person with whom we will endlessly enjoy free give-and-take and positive feelings. As infatuation fades, however, perspectives change.

Incompatibilities steal focus and disenchantment confronts us. Give-and-take and positive feelings no longer seem effortless. We struggle to find a satisfying balance between freedom to meet our own needs and wants and responsibility to consider our spouse's needs and wants. We do what comes naturally, and the situation worsens. We seek the counsel of outsiders and try their occasionally contradictory dos and don'ts, and further complicate things.

Enough already! It's not that complicated. There is only one marital obligation - self-responsibility.

Self-responsible Spouse

Everybody Marries the Wrong Person presents the new marriage paradigm, Self-responsible Spouse. Self-responsible spouses emotionally grow themselves up. Self-responsible spouses channel energy toward managing their own expectations and reactions, dark moods and insecurities. Self-responsible spouses no longer subject their partners to scrutiny, criticism, and demands that they become more like their idealized "right person." (For details, see previous posts - "New Marriage Paradigm - Self-responsible Spouse," "How to Train Your Dragon," "Is your partner a matrimonial slacker?")

Practicing self-responsibility brings couples as close as humanly possible to a marital state of grace. Neither spouse keeps track of what is sacrificed or what is owed. Both spouses fulfill the obligation to grow themselves up.

Fourteenth-century Sufi poet Hafiz puts it this way:



All this time

The Sun never says

To the Earth,

"You owe me."


What happens

With a love like that.

It lights the



For more about the book, visit:

About the Author
Christine Meinecke, Ph.D.

Christine Meinecke, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and author of Everybody Marries the Wrong Person.

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