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False Forms of Love – Spouse Acquirement Syndrome

False Forms of Love: Spouse Acquirement SyndromeSynopsis: Examining ladder of success pseudo-love; Hugh’s story; The men’s self deception program; Race to marriage pseudo-love; Edith’s story; The woman’s self deception program; Family and cultural press What about marriage before love; and Protection and cure.

Ladder of Success Pseudo-Love

Hugh told his story with vestiges of bitter discontent.  “At first I found it quite curious that I fell in love a week after I learned that I absolutely had to be married to get the career promotion I was after.  It wasn’t an official, written rule but my mentor at the home office explained it was just the way things worked in our particular, culprit-corporate culture.  So a week later I found the future Mrs. Me, and not long afterward I was thanking the Almighty for letting me get this ‘resume requirement’ out of the way in such a timely manner.  The amazing thing was I was completely convinced I loved her, and she had been sent by heaven at just the right time, just for me.  I also saw her as an omen-like proof that I must be destined for great things in my occupational endeavors.  I never even bothered to question whether or not she truly loved me.  That was an automatic given, as I saw it.”

“Following the appropriate course of actions we married and I mentally ‘put her on the shelf’ and went on to my true destiny of wealth and status attainment.  It was not until I caught her in bed with not one but two of my ‘frenemy’ (enemy disguised as a friend), in-house, company competitors that I began to suspect something might be drastically wrong.  Truth was I was devastated, heartbroken, crushed!  Did she not love me like she was supposed to?  Wasn’t  I a grand provider?  Could I somehow be sexually inadequate?  Surely not!  Was she secretly a whoring slut?  Had I unknowingly sinned against my deity and was being drastically punished for it?  Fortunately she soon dragged me to couples counseling where I discovered the problem was entirely different from what I had been thinking.  The emerging truth was we didn’t really love each other.  How in the world had this come to be?”

Hugh continued, “Now I see how devious and powerful self-deception can be.  I was entirely controlled by what my therapist calls a Spouse Acquirement Syndrome.  It began with me not having the slightest idea about what healthy, real love actually is.  That set me up for being subtly, but ever so thoroughly, influenced to travel my family’s and my elite subculture’s requisite path.  The subconscious, programmed path required that I believe I was in love so that I might marry the appropriate female who was required for social and career path success.  Like a robot I had followed this program exactly.  That my subconscious programs could do this to me was appalling.  I vowed to re-program, break free, discover real love and what was true for the real me.  Since then I am glad to say I have been traveling a much improved life path and healthy, real love has turned out to be part of that path.”

The Men’s Self Deception Program

It is unfortunate that many males who live unexamined lives and are not trained in the skills of introspection discover the same things Hugh so unhappily found to be true about his life.  I find it especially sad that men in a number of cultures, in effect, are subtly led away from learning about both real love and false love and their dynamics.  This results in many lives damaged and often life ruining experiences.  Women generally, in many cultures, are given far more stimuli to think about love, but what they are guided to think it is often destructively erroneous.  In a different way they are just as programmed to fall victim to the Spouse Acquirement Syndrome as are men.  For example listen to Edith.

The Race to Marriage Pseudo-Love

Edith said with eager, earnest expression, “I was getting close to graduation and getting desperate.  Everybody in my circle was getting engaged and I wasn’t about to ‘come in last’ in the race to marriage.  So, I started seriously looking around for who was available and a surprisingly good candidate showed up.  Soon I convinced myself it was true love, and I seduced him into bed and then to the altar.  At first it seemed like a really good marriage and I was particularly tickled that my family and friends saw me as having done better than expected.  Socially I had moved up a bit by way of marriage, our sex life was totally amazing, and my sisters were totally jealous of me – so everything was just about perfect.  For a time I really thought it was going to work out, even if I didn’t have all the feelings I thought I was supposed to have toward him.  Then things began to slow down except for our drinking, that significantly increased.  We didn’t have anything new to say to each other, and more and more we discovered we just weren’t very alike in all sorts of ways we had previously avoided looking at.  We both drifted into affairs which lifted our spirits individually, and actually seemed to sort of help our marriage for a while.  Having small children distracted us, and both of us got and gave all our love to our little ones but not to each other.  We didn’t fight, except when we were drunk, and we didn’t hate or even dislike each other, at least not when we were sober.”

“We grew quite an alcohol problem, so we both started going to different AA groups.  Along with that we went to couples counseling at the insistence of our AA sponsors.  In couples counseling the unhappy truth came out.  It became apparent to both of us we really didn’t have a genuine marriage-type-love for one another.  It looked like we had grown a sort of sibling-love for one another, except for still occasionally having great sex together.  I figured out that I had convinced myself I loved him so that I could get married because it was ‘next on the program’ for how my life should go.  In our deep loneliness for real love we both turned to alcohol and others.  My husband confessed that he was quite mad at me but also was angry with himself for having allowed himself to be acquired instead of truly loved.  With help from the counselor we divorced amicably and got into being real good at cooperative, co-parenting.  Actually, in a way, we love each other better than we ever did before, but as friends.  We both have found people to do real love with and we are really fond of each other’s new spouses.  We’re also really glad for the children we had together, but a whole lot of our previous marriage just was a big, phony waste.

The Women’s Program

It used to be, and still is in many places, that a woman could not be considered OK unless she was, or at least had been, married.  Singles were considered losers.  Singles used to consider themselves losers just because they were single.  In many social spheres of the urban, westernized world this has changed, or is changing.  More and more women, along with men, are finding out they can be single and well loved.  Still, the Spouse Acquirement Syndrome lingers on in a great many women and in no small number of men.  In a woman thusly programmed it is still required that she convince herself that she is loved and in love with the man she aims to marry.  For many women, to live in the social status of their family and friends, or in the cultural sphere they aspire to, they must believe romantic love is occurring before they can give themselves permission for their societal-required marriage.

Cultural And Family Press

For many people, cultural programming directs the way they live even more than family programming.  Of course for many, the family and cultural press works together subconsciously programming people for the same, married, lifestyle agenda.  In ever so many families and cultural spheres the teaching is that you will (or must) fall in love, get married, have children, participate in the appropriate cultural rituals and gatherings, and act like you are living happily-ever-after.  If you don’t ‘fall in line’ with this agenda you’re out of step, out of line, and soon living outside the limits of social acceptability.  Fear of that exclusion and rejection keeps many people living by the dictates of their subconscious Spouse Acquirement Syndrome.

What About Marriage before Love?

Two people marry but only one of them loves the other.  The hope and plan is that in time, and perhaps with work, they will both come to love each other.  Some arranged marriages exemplify this hope.  Sometimes that does happen and turns out well.  Frequently the Spouse Acquirement Syndrome gets people to marry without the couple first convincing themselves that they are in love.  Often it is their hope that they both will grow to eventually love each other.  I have counseled a fair number of couples whose marriage was arranged by their parents or by other people of influence in their home culture.  Most of them were taught that love would grow after the marriage got started, but they came to couples counseling with me because that was not working out as well as desired.  Often the various counseling results are a happy marriage, sometimes a compatible divorce, and once in a great while some unusual alternate lifestyle.

Protection And Cure

As you probably are well aware, everywhere in the westernized world (and in pockets all over the world) increasing numbers of people are working to make their own, independent choices when it comes to romantic or spousal love and marriage in its multiple forms.  Nevertheless, subconscious programming from family and culture may be guiding them more than their own conscious thinking or their natural instincts.  The major protection against a Spouse Acquirement Syndrome negatively affecting your life is to become aware of your own, likely, love relationship programming and carefully abide by the tenet that “love is patient”, so proceed slowly and carefully.  If you suspect you are subject to a Spouse Acquirement Syndrome I suggest you seek counseling with someone credentialed, trained and experienced in dealing with love and relationship difficulties – not just individual issues.  Also work to learn all you can about healthy, real love so you can differentiate it from this and the other forms of false love and from false love syndromes.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

♥ Love Success Question
Can you identify when in your life have you felt a social press to hurry up and fall in love and/or marry?

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