chapter  14
Readjusting family relationships
ByJoan Raphael-Leff
Pages 14

Partners and the family are influenced by the social forces which operate upon them from without as well as the individual forces from within. While people were growing up, 'Adulthood' was synonymous with 'Marriage' and marriage with having children; many people are refraining from making or sustaining relationships which would lead to marriage or establishment of a new family. Along with the loss of wider societal functions of the extended family, marriage has gained importance as a 'love-match' and a source of personal, sexual, emotional and even intellectual fulfilment. When two unique people come together to form an ongoing relationship, they enter it dragging their psychological histories behind them. The outer circle, or shell of the relationship, constitutes the Social Contract of the relationship: all the culturally determined expectations about 'marriage' that we have each acquired in the course of growing up in our society and our own particular ethnocentric niche within that.