Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Self Fulfilling Prophecy - The Pygmalion Effect in Marriages

(I have changed a couple of things in this story)

The following conversation happened in a post marital counselling session I handled sometime ago. This was with a Christian couple that have been married for more than five years.

Wife: I do not trust my husband when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex.
Counsellor (Me): How come?  Has he done anything to make you distrust him? Have you caught him with another woman?
Wife: No. Not yet. I just do not trust him.
Counsellor (Me): So when did this distrust issue start?
Wife: I don't know.
Husband: Interjecting; I will tell you. All this started when I told her that I had a lot of girlfriends before I got married. From that time, she has been suspecting any kind of relationship I have with the opposite sex.

I am using this real life situation to discuss the effect of "The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy" in marriages.

According to Wikipedia, "The Pygmalion effect, or Rosenthal effect, is the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform. The effect is named after Pygmalion, a play by George Bernard Shaw."

"The corollary of the Pygmalion effect is the golem effect, in which low expectations lead to a decrease in performance. The Pygmalion effect and the golem effect are forms of self-fulfilling prophecy, and, in this respect, people will internalize their positive labels, and those with positive labels succeed accordingly. Within sociology, the effect is often cited with regard to education and social class."
This also happens in marriages. There are some women who do not trust their husbands because of so many reasons; such as
  • Men are like dogs. They never get enough. They must chase anything in skirts;
  • If they have done it before, they will do it again. Just give them the right opportunity;
  • It happens in the movies on TV and these movies mirror what happens in the society. So it will happen in my marriage.
This also applies to men who think negatively about their wives.

Any spouse will invariably get what they want to see in their spouse; whether good or bad. 

My advice is this. Instead of waiting for your spouse to fall, whether true or false, start praying for him or her not to fall. Don't think that it will be better for you to gloat and tell you "I told you so". Since the two of you are married, it will affect you. The two of you are now one. So pray, pray and pray that God delivers you or your spouse from every evil. Amen.

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