Manifestation of Existential Issues As a Brilliant Function for Quality of Matrimony

Scientific Essay, 2011

7 Pages


Abstract: There are some important issues in marital counselling which are discoursed in Existential thought. These issues are freedom, time, human communication, meaning of life, and anxiety, which are shared by the existential counsellors and philosophers. Even though there are full potentials of the existential issues to be applied during counselling sessions, most of them are ignored by couple counsellors. The purpose of this article is to highlight these issues as the key concepts in four different counselling theories of Existential thought. We found that, each theory used only certain issues as the key concepts. Therefore, this study gathers all of the applied existential issues for a future comprehensive marital counselling model. Applying these issues together seems to be a brilliant function for quality of matrimony. Journal of American Science 2011;7(5):459-465]. (ISSN: 1545-1003).

Keywords: Existential thought; existential issues; marital counselling; quality of matrimony

1. Introduction

Nowadays, a major concern among marital counsellors is the survival of marital satisfaction and communication as the barometer of marital quality in matrimony (Halford, 2003; Patrick, Sells, Giordano, & Tollerud, 2007). Several studies have highlighted the fact that the levels of anxiety, depression and meaning in the quality of matrimony are significantly related to the level of marital satisfaction and communication (Frankl, 1984; Kalantarkousheh & Hassan, 2010c; Tompson, 1991).

It seems that the aforementioned matters, as factors in the quality of matrimony, have been discussed in Existential thought. Existential counselling has initiated its application among various settings, individuals, and groups (Charny & Asineli, 1996; Kalantarkousheh & Hassan, 2009a; Lantz & Alford, 1995). In fact, issues such as the existential I-You communication, existential freedom, existential meaning of life, as well as existential anxiety and existential time, have been identified as integral parts of human beings, even when individuals get married. These issues have been recognized and regarded as effective potentials which are used in a variety of existential counselling processes (See: Binswanger & Boss, 1993; Cook, 2005; Cooper, 2003; Deurzen, 2002a; Deurzen, 2006; Kalantarkousheh & Hassan, 2010b; Lantz, 2004, 2004b; Lantz & Gregoire, 2000b; Lantz & Gregoire, 2003; Randall, 2001; Schneider, Status, & Availability, 2007; Yalom, 2002). However, as far as the current findings are concern, there is no existential training plan for couples who do not have mental problem and who want to increase their quality of matrimony, whereas the potentials of existential issues are not deniable. Therefore, there is a gap which demands for research surrounding the existential issues.

2. Theories in Existential Counselling

In general, there are four theories in existential counselling (Cooper, 2003), and each of them uses some of the existential issues. The first theory is known as Daseinsanalysis, which was created by Ludwig Binswanger (1881-1966) and then by Medard Boss (1903-1990). The key concept of this counselling theory is paying attention to the two of the fundamental existential issues, namely being in the world with others and freedom. The second theory is known as Logotherapy. Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) is known as the author of Logotherapy. In this therapeutic theory, logotherapists help individuals to discover the meaning and purpose of their life. In doing so, they are observed to actualize their true potentials. In addition, freedom and time are two issues which have vital role in Logotherapy. The third is called the American Existential Humanistic theory. Rollo May (1904-1994) is known as the father of the Existential Humanistic theory. Other researchers who came after May were Bugental, Yalom and Schneider. It is important to note that practitioners of the Existential Humanistic theory, unlike Daseinsanalysts, emphasize on individuality, subjective reality, as well as inner world and inner experience of human existence. In fact, the awareness of the realities of existence, namely death, meaninglessness, freedom, and isolation which lead to real anxieties has an essential role in the Existential Humanistic theory. The final theory is known as the British School of Existential Analysis. This particular theory represents a brilliant revival of the existential training in the world (Cooper, 2003). The main author of this theory is Emmy Van Deurzen (1951-Present). Just like Daseinsanalystic practitioners, Van Deurzen emphasizes on ‘being in the world with self and others’ and rejects the humanistic theory which focuses on individualism and subjectivism (Hanscomb, 2006). Indeed, Deurzen (2002a), proposed four existential worlds for human beings; which three of them namely natural world, personal world and spiritual world are related to being in the world with self. The fourth world in her theory is social world which is related to being in the world with others. Table 1 shows all the mentioned theories in brief.

3. Existential Issues for the Quality of Matrimony

The main duty of existential counsellor is helping individuals to be aware of variety of possibilities and conditions in their life to make a high quality of life. This assert has supported by Flanagan , Flanagan (2004) and Emmy van Deurzen (2006) since they explain that existential counselling is almost always to facilitate individual’s self-awareness. Moreover, existential counsellors by emphasizing awareness of individuals explain that any change in a life is by- product of the discovery of authentic existence (Haldane & McCluskey, 1982).

However, there is no existential training to be applied for spouses do not have mental problem and who only wish to improve the quality of matrimony. Notwithstanding emphasizing on giving awareness is main duty of existential counsellors with several possibilities in the existential counselling. This is supported by Lantz (1999) who eloquently states that the goal of existential counselling is to help spouses to increase their awareness towards love, fidelity, caring, and meaning in their matrimony and decrease alienation.

As mentioned earlier on, each existential counselling theory uses some existential issues while ignoring the rest. The major goal of this review article is to highlight and gather all effective existential issues in a comprehensive model for the quality of matrimony. Hence, Table 2 illustrates both the existential counselling theories and the extracted relevant existential issues. These issues seem to have high potentials for the quality of matrimony.

a. Existential I-You Communication

One of the essential issues in Existential thought is being in different communicational situations based on the I-You communication and I-It communication. Martin Buber (1958), known as the existential philosopher of dialogue, believes that the

world of human beings has two kinds of communications, namely the I-You communication and I-It communication. From Existential thought, ‘It’ has only essence but ‘you’ as ‘I’ exists, and this creates the essence during his life when making communication with others (Heidegger, 1962; Macquarrie, 1972; Sartre, 1953). Moreover, ‘You’ and ‘I’ are unique, singular and irreplaceable; however, ‘It’ is replaceable and is not singular or unique (Sartre, 1953). Furthermore, matters which are referred by ‘It’, unlike human beings, are without aspiration. They cannot try, or hope, or wish, or long to be other than they are. Hence, they never expect human beings to pay attention to them because they do not have any feelings like human beings. Indeed, the I-You communication is an interaction between two human beings, whereas the I-It communication is between human beings and animals, or human beings and objects. Whenever ‘I’ takes a communication with ‘It’, this is because of the use of It, but the communication between I-You is transcended using the communication. Additionally, the I-You communication is always dependent on dialogue, which is impossible in the I-It communication. Furthermore, love is only between the I-You communication, so someone who does not care about that communication does not understand love (Buber, 1958). Furthermore, characteristics such as to be present for each other, the lack of looking at each other proprietary, believe in other individual’s freedom, and admit others’ ideas are outlined in the I- You communication. Therefore, to be fully human, we are obliged to open ourselves for I-You communication.

It is necessary to highlight that the I-You communication is sometimes reduced to I-It. As indicated earlier, however, the I-It communication is dependent on the use of human beings’ sideways rather than mutuality. Therefore, it is duty of existential counsellor to help human beings to do and act in a manner to prevent the I-You communication from being reduced to I-It communication. It seems that these kinds of existential communications can form a communicative model in matrimony.

Accordingly, couples can find brilliant communications for their lives and consequently continue their marital lives successfully, and at the same time, with love if they become aware of the model(Kalantarkousheh & Hassan, 2010a ). Buber (1958) declares that marriage will never give a new life except by that out of which true marriage always arises, the revealing by two people of the You to one another. Each spouse in the dialogue becomes a You for the other if each is committed to an honest interfacing (Ventimiglia, 2008).


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Manifestation of Existential Issues As a Brilliant Function for Quality of Matrimony
Counselling psychology
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manifestation, existential, issues, brilliant, function, quality, matrimony
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Seyed Mohammad Kalantarkousheh (Author)Siti Aishah Hassan (Author)Rusnani Abdul Kadir (Author)Mansor Abu Talib (Author), 2011, Manifestation of Existential Issues As a Brilliant Function for Quality of Matrimony, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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