University of Florida
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE
Family Life Cycle
CALL US MR. AND MRS.
This is the first in a series of circulars on the Family Life
Cycle. Other circulars are:
Now We are Three
You and Your Pre-School Children
Your Child Starts to School
Your Adolescents in Your Family
Your Middle Years
Your Retirement Years
Call Us Mr. and Mrs.
A New Relationship
As you step into your new
home, whatever kind of
house it happens to be, you
are beginning new experiences
-that can be the most cre-
ative of all human relation-
1 Someone has said that the
first step toward a satisfying
relationship in marriage is facing realities-being willing to ac-
cept oneself and one's partner on the level of everyday living, for
better and for worse. Remember, that's what you promised.
To help understand this "facing reality", let's take a look
at women and men. What are they like? Remember your mar-
riage vows? "Wilt thou take this woman" . "wilt thou take
"Wilt Thou Take This Woman?" Being a man, you will never
completely understand her. You can
imagine how other men feel but you
can never fully imagine what you would
do or think if you were a woman. De-
pendability-always same today as yes-
terday-may be the characteristic you
have admired most in men. This is not
true of women. Perhaps the minister
should have asked, "Wilt thou take \
these women"-for many women she is
-this is her nature: one is gay-an-
other grave, one will adore you-one
will ridicule you, one is putty in your
hands-one you can neither bend or
Her outlook will be different from
yours-what she says may not be what
she really means listen with your
heart as well as your ears. She can
remember yesterday longer and see into
tomorrow further than you have ever
Though you will never completely understand her, if you
are willing to learn from her, you will see the world through
different eyes, see people in a new light, and find a new window
open toward God!
"Wilt Thou Take This Man?" You, too,
can never completely understand him
for he is a man-you wouldn't want it
otherwise. But what will he be like?
He may still be a child-fascinated
^ by toy trains, postage stamps, model
ships and cars.
\ He may make fun of your clothes
and tease and aggravate you about
many things. He'll love his work for
the work's sake. No woman can fasci-
nate him or absorb him as his work will
\ every day.
His idea of leisure may be entirely
different from yours.
He'll forget when you remember-
birthdays, anniversaries, other dates which you think are im-
Though you will never completely understand him, you can
learn from him-tolerance, patience, courage, love of truth, rest-
fulness of mind, and many other things.
In addition to the general characteristics mentioned for men
and women, each of you will have your own unique character-
istics-the things that makes you, you. Part of the fun will be
getting to really know your mate, but may also be a part of your
Your Expectations In Marriage
Your expectations in marriage and whether or not they are
fulfilled will influence your happiness. Your expectations are
influenced by your family background, movies, stories, and your
own dreams. You need to see a happy marriage not as a gift
all wrapped up in a pretty package, but as something you and
your mate create together.
Let's use the family background to illustrate expectations
in marriage. Mary comes from a family in which the father
shared in some of the homemaking tasks-washing and drying
dishes, cooking an occasional meal and other things. This was
all part of being a husband as far as she was concerned. John
comes from a family where his father never shared in the home-
making tasks. That was "woman's" work. In fact he kind of
scorns men who helped.
What do you think happened when Mary naturally expected
John to help with the dishes and he wouldn't be caught dead
doing it? Do you really know what each expects of the other?
Just for fun why don't you sit down and make an individual
list of what each of you expects from marriage. Compare the
lists-see what is alike-see what is different. Then work out
what the two of you together expect from your marriage. This
list will not be an end-all, but will give you some common goals
toward which to work.
Partners In Marriage
So many people think of the 50-50 idea when you hear "part-
ners in marriage." Partners in marriage means creating to-
gether a happy relationship-discussing issues which require a
decision. Then the person who is best qualified to make the
final decision should do so.
Let's look at Mary and John again. If they were planning
to buy a new piece of kitchen equipment, Mary would most likely
be the one to make the final decision. She's probably had more
experience in the kitchen and will use the equipment more than
her husband. On the other hand, if they were buying a car,
John would be the one better qualified to make the decision.
Partners in marriage does not mean equality nor does it
mean inequality. It means that the two people would work to-
gether to bring out the best in each other-complement and
supplement the personalities of each other.
Room To Breathe
Marriage is a very close and intimate relationship-a sharing
of many things. Most of the time this is the way you want it.
However, there will be times when you will want "room to
breathe"-privacy-physically and emotionally-to be by your-
self-to think your own thoughts, to reflect on life and what it
means to you. Perhaps you're in a "bad" mood and you need to
work through this by yourself.
You probably will want to pursue your own interests-some
that you've had before marriage. This will make you a more in-
teresting and stimulating person. If you have other friends and
interests, you'll appreciate the fellowship of your mate even
more. There will be times when you'll feel very dependent on
your mate and there'll be times when you will feel the need to
assert your independence.
Conflict In Marriage
There will be and should be conflict. If there is no conflict,
it probably means one of two things-one mate is completely
spineless or one mate's personality is being completely squelched.
The important thing is to work out your conflict constructive-
ly. Here are some suggestions:
Accept the fact that conflict is normal, healthy and to be
expected. After all, you are human beings.
When conflict arises, try to find out "what's with" your
mate. How does he or she feel and why? Give him (her)
an opportunity to talk it out.
Try to find out why you are annoyed. Maybe you're an-
noyed because your mate has done something that reminds
you of an unpleasant experience you've had in the past,
or something that you don't like in yourself.
Keep your attention on the conflict rather than on the
other person's faults. Help the other fellow save face.
Have patience. It will take time to work out your dif-
Work out your conflicts when they arise. Don't let ten-
sions pile up.
Conflict really has two purposes-solution of issues and re-
lease of tension which arises in every relationship. A marriage
that can survive a good, healthy, noisy conflict is well on the way.
Hopefully, conflicts will become fewer and fewer as you work
through them. They give you a better understanding of your-
self and your mate. But your marriage will never be completely
free of conflicts, we hope.
What is love? It is:
respect: This means seeing the person as he is, not as
you would like him to be or need him to be.
responsibility: You are capable of responding to the needs,
expressed or unexpressed, of the one you love.
understanding: When you understand a person, you are
able to see beyond the surface. Without saying so or
showing it, you may know
your mate is worried, anx-
ious, lonely or angry.
care: When you love some-
one, you are concerned with /
their happiness and welfare.
You are willing to work to
provide things for them.
an art: It gives one humil-
ity, courage, faith, patience.
It is a personal commit-
ment; a personal risk.
loyalty: When you love someone you are loyal to him. In
your relationships with your mate and others, you uphold,
support, praise and encourage him, or keep silent.
In marriage you can have an opportunity to develop love to
its fullest, through a language beyond that of verbal expression.
You can find creativeness, new experiences, beauty, tenderness,
and intimate human response.
Love, like any other art, takes practice and patience.
A Long Look
Let's take a look down through the years. Counting the
years before the children come and the years after they leave
home, you'll spend more than half of your married life with just
the two of you-so keep in touch. This may seem strange to
say to newly weds, but couples do drift apart. Women lose them-
selves in rearing their children-men are busy making a living.
\I.ke your mate the most important person in the world.
This does not mean neglecting your own growth and develop-
ment nor neglecting your children! It does mean that there
SHOULD always be TIME for you to TALK to each other, to
play together, to work together, to take vacations without the
children, to go out on a date occasionally.
Keep in touch .
So your happiest days will be
Not the first years of marriage
But the last ones.
Foreman, Kenneth. From This Day Forward. Outlook Publishers,
Chapters 5 and 6.
Duvall, Hill. Building Your Marriage. Public Affairs Pamphlet, pages
23 and 24.
Fromm, Erich. The Art of Loving. Harper and Brothers, Chapter 2.
Prepared by: Ruth E. Harris, Family Life Specialist
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida,
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. O. Watkins, Director