Dr. Noah H. Kersey Ph.D.
It's a bit disturbing to talk with
engaged couples to hear all the various reasons why they choose to
What many will not admit is that, sometimes, they are more in love
with the "idea" of marriage than they are in love with the person
they are about to marry.
Let's examine this process from a physiological perspective.
When two people meet and begin their courtship they typically
evaluate the relationship from their five senses. They might like
how the person looks, how they smell, how they feel when they touch
and so on. Then, they evaluate how the other person behaves in a
variety of situations.
All this information is first affecting the brain centers that
control our emotions. This area is called the "limbic system" and we
find ourselves "excited" and "light-headed" and our heart beats
faster when we are in the courtship and early stage of marriage. At
some point during the first seven years of being together, our
perception of the person shifts from the emotional centers of our
brain ultimately to the logical, cortical areas.
The cerebral cortex is where reason and logic prevail. We no longer
feel the pounding our hearts, and the lightness of our senses, but
realize that we have overlooked a lot about our mate because we were
so joyous and thrilled about the wedding ceremony and just being
To use a business concept, but still apropos, the couple are in the
"marketing phase" of their relationship. Each is trying to get the
other person to like them and, eventually, to love them. They are,
in effect, putting their "best foot forward" trying to make the
"sale", which is the wedding itself.
After the honeymoon is over reality sets in. Dealing with the every
day stresses of life is not all the fun that we experienced earlier
in the relationship, especially when children come along and the
wife is not quite as amorous as she was during the first year of
marriage, and the husband decreases being as romantic and attentive.
Now the focus is on careers and the daily routines that tire them.
The couple cannot maintain the same level of energy they originally
put into the marketing phase of the relationship and now that the
"sale" has been made, they find themselves in the "service phase" of
In the service phase of marriage, both the husband and wife are
still expecting whatever was promised in the marketing phase but
they, instead, experience disappointment.
The couple is surprised and disappointed that their mate is not
delivering on the promises, whether implied or spoken, they had made
during the courtship. This is when marital problems begin to occur,
and the arguments increase.
In time, some couples feel like they were duped and experience a
great deal of anger in the relationship and even think about
divorce. This is when they tend to forget their marriage vows of
"for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in
health, until death do you part".
It's not "until we do not feel like doing it any more". It's until
death do us part.
As Christians, we need to take our vows seriously to be pleasing to
God. A healthy marriage requires mutual respect, genuine commitment,
good communication, as well as time and effort.
It takes a realistic assessment of what we promised our mate in the
marketing phase of the relationship when all our perceptions of that
person was in the emotional centers of our brain and whether we are
fulfilling those promises, or the oath we made during the wedding
It also requires an evaluation of whether we are making good on
those commitments in the service phase when our view of our mate is
now in the logical, reason-oriented areas of our brain.
Marital problems and differences are resolved through forgiveness:
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you" [Ephesians 4:32].
Hopefully, this should be a clear message for those who are in the
dating, or marketing, phase of their relationship. Be sure you are
willing to deliver the "services" you are promising in the
Dr. Kersey has been providing mental
health services since 1977 and provides services for individuals,
couples, families as well as groups. He has a special interest in
areas of co-dependent relationships, adoption issues, marital
therapy, as well as stress of life issues. Dr. Kersey is a licensed
psychologist and has been practicing in Indiana since 1987. You may
contact him at his website: