–Jerry Hancock

Harville Hendrix, in his book, How to Get the Love You Want, has an interesting theory about attraction. He says if a single man walks into a room filled with one hundred women, he will be attracted to one of them more than the other ninety nine. Likewise, with a single woman, she will gravitate to one of the hundred men and ignore the others. Dr. Hendrix postulates that there are two parts of this magnetism. First, is the positive side. He says the person who appeals to him, (or her, if female), is the person he feels will give him unconditional love. Somehow, he senses this special person will love him just for who he is, not because he has money, a cool car, or superhuman strength. She will love him, like God loves him, just because he is. (I believe this need for unconditional love is innate in all human beings and as we search for a mate, this is one of our major unconscious expectations.)

Sometimes, if we are fortunate and have healthy parents who were, at times, able to express unconditional love and affection, we will hope to replace this in our marriage relationship (Family of Intention). However, if there were no experiences of this kind of love in our Family of Origin, then we hope to at least correct this by picking a partner who will love us with unconditional acceptance.

There is a second hidden side of attraction. To use my word, rather than Dr. Hendrix’s word, there is a catalyst side of this mesmerizing process. This catalyst side theorizes that within the person you are attracted to, there are the seeds to bring to the surface any unresolved issues of your past. These can be areas of your life where new growth or healing needs to happen. It can be left-over issues from your Family of Origin (physical, emotional or sexual abuse) or from past life experiences (such as a rape or war experiences) where you were traumatized. It can simply be areas of your life where you need to mature, such as being a responsible adult, learning how to sustain intimacy, or manage money. Whatever is unfinished, the person you are drawn to has within them or her, the potential to unearth it. The unresolved issues might pop up ten days after the honeymoon, or ten years and two kids into a marriage. Growth can’t be stopped. Like a planted seed, it will find a way to break through to light.

When these new opportunities to grow come to life, they usually manifest in conflicts and skirmishes. Couples, who don’t have the skills or a workable process for handling these outbreaks, tend to break out of their marriages (One in two marriage end in divorce). Once they get out of their terrible marriage, they go out to seek a new playmate who will give them the unconditional love, they want to replicate or didn’t get from the Family of Origin. Plus, they want this unconditional love they didn’t get from the parent.

The only problem with this drama, is they will again be attracted to a person who will have within them the seeds to bring to surface anything that has been unresolved from their past. This will include the unresolved issues of their previous marriage. (Divorces in second marriages are higher than they are in first marriages)

All this is to say, Look before you leap. When conflicts arise in a marriage, smart couples will work through them and try to resolve them. Not every marriage will stay together, but it might prevent the same scenario in two or three marriages. A good question for each marriage partner to ask themselves when a battle ensues is: What unresolved issues in my past do I need to address?