Narcissism

This article has been making the rounds in the Christian blogosphere.

In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. […] A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you.

In sum, we are looking for a partner to fulfill us without us having to do any changing on behalf of the partner. The Last Psychiatrist‘s blogging career is largely about this phenomenon. Many of us have an adolescent mindset, where we believe that everything exists for our egotistical desires. We are unable to grow up and love others. We think that happiness comes about by others fulfilling our needs instead of the other way around.

Marriage is for grown-ups. What kind of person with an adolescent mindset can withstand the realities of marriage? Stanley Hauerwas is quote in the article as saying,

We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

So if we marry someone to prop up our self-image, we are going to be in for a harsh surprise when our (former) beloved shows that s/he has needs and desires outside of ourselves.

So does this mean we should marry just anyone? No, I don’t think so. But if we are not ready to sacrifice our needs for the other’s sake, then we are not ready to get married. If we do not become happy at the thought of marrying a specific person, we should not marry them.

Marrying (or not marrying) someone for the wrong reasons in not an entirely new phenomenon. St. John Chrysostom wrote in the 5th century AD:

If a man and a woman marry to satisfy their sexual appetites, or to further the material aims of themselves or their families, then the union is unlikely to bring blessings. But if a man and a woman marry in order to be companions on the journey through earth to heaven, then their union will bring great joy to themselves and to others. (via)

 

 

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Marriage

One response to “Narcissism

  1. Marcia

    What on earth is wrong with wanting “self fulfillment” and why must the “self” always be something evil, empty, egotistical and “narcisstic”? Of COURSE I want to marry for my sexual appetites ( I love the thought of a passionate marriage–the only kind there should be) and as for the material aspect–wanting to enjoy a nice life with someone does not make you a superificial gold digger, what nonsense. And no, I want “my family” to have no part of my initimate little haven. I am Christian, but I get awfully tired of all of this emphasis on “self denial”. Gee, why have a self if it must be continuously denied?

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