Roberto readily accepted the resistance of Maria’s parents to his courtship of Maria. However, he did resent the strong push exerted by his own parent’s and Maria’s parents for them to get married (despite the opposition of Maria’s parents to their relationship!):

. . I didn’t want to get married and in the honeymoon the resentment appeared. I didn’t need marriage for a paper and this made me feel very upset. My mother wanted to do a big party. I was the first son in getting married . . . I didn’t like all that proceeding . . . this situation made us feel very unhappy in the honeymoon.

Maria concurred that:

. . the honeymoon was filled with fights and tears. This unpleasant experience made me change the airplane tickets . . . and we canceled the trip five days before the time scheduled [to return home.] Later, everything was forgotten

Like many young men and women from their country and many other countries in the world, Maria and Roberto had to fight against their parents in order to establish a successful marriage. Yet, they complied with the wishes of their parents and had a miserable honeymoon.

Now living in the United States, Maria and Roberto have decided not to have children, in part because they don’t want to replicate the struggles they had with their own traditional parents. At another level, Maria and Roberto have decided not to have children as a powerful statement to their parents that they are not going to comply with any more of their traditional values? They agreed to get married to meet their parent’s wishes, but are not going to take the second step of having children in order to continue meeting their parents’ expectations. As in the case of many young couples, their relationship is built in part not on the shared commitment to parental values but rather on the shared rejection of and rebellion against these values.

Alice and Fred exemplify the struggle experienced by many young couples in choosing between the acceptance and rejection of parental values. During their interview, Alice talked about being pregnant when she and Fred became engaged. They decided to have an abortion and, according to Alice, based this very difficult decision on economic grounds: “[we] just weren’t economically ready to start a family.” Several weeks after the interview, however, Alice informed her interviewer that she and her therapist had just been working on this topic. She now realizes that the reason she got an abortion is because when she called her parents to tell them she was getting married, her mother’s first words were:-“You aren’t pregnant are you?” — to which Alice falsely replied, “No.” Alice now realizes that the reason she had the abortion was because she “couldn’t live with the lie,” and thus she changed reality to fit the lie.


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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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