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Flügel, J.C. Kahr, B. (2011). Psychological Aspects of Marriage and the Family (1935). Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 1(2):174-192.

(2011). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 1(2):174-192

Psychological Aspects of Marriage and the Family (1935)

John C. Flügel and Edited and annotated by Brett Kahr

It would be hardly fair either to the reader or myself if I did not state frankly at the beginning that I am somewhat appalled at the scope of the theme that has been allotted me in this series. Both marriage and the family are subjects on which one could write volumes and on which volumes have been written. Some limitation is clearly necessary. It is true that I am to confine myself to the ‘Psychological aspects of marriage and the family’. But the field, even as thus restricted, is a little awe-inspiring. I myself once wrote a whole book1 dealing with the family from the point of view of one single school of psychology alone — and we all know how embarrassingly rich in schools psychology is at the present moment. In that book, too, I said extremely little about marriage. So I fear the task of dealing adequately with all the psychological aspects of my subject in the course of a single chapter is quite beyond me. I shall therefore make no attempt to cover the whole field, but shall limit myself in two ways — first, by confining myself rather rigorously to the ‘here’ and ‘now’ (i.e., marriage and the family as we know them in this country at the present time), thus restraining any tendency to wander into the attractive fields of history, comparative sociology, or anthropology; and second, by being frankly eclectic.

We may perhaps appropriately begin with the rather unusual question: Why do people marry? Marriage is an institution that we take quite amazingly for granted; but if we are to try to understand the deeper motives for human conduct, it is often well to get behind well-recognised institutions such as marriage and ask why men and women conform to them. The marriage ceremony of the English Church tells us that marriage has three aims in view: the procreation of children, the satisfaction of sexual desire, and mutual society, help, and comfort.

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