A Corrective Emotional Experience — The Marriage Of William & Kate

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Careful observation of lives and circumstances can lead to an understanding of the importance of a sound "emotional sense of direction." (Smullens, S. 2003)

This process also helps us to understand how "corrective emotional experiences" (Alexander, F.G. and French, T.M., 1946) can offer sound and positive direction to a community, a country, and a family.

Sometimes an intense social experience brings this quality of healthy, sweeping change. To note two examples, shortly after the murders at the Emanual African Methodist Church, Governor Nikki Haley called on the state legislature to begin the successful process of removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse.

In 1852 the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" changed the way our country would forever view slavery.  

Relationships also can lead to a renewed, positive perspective. Relationships of the famous among us offer an excellent opportunity to observe the development within a family of an ability to "see straight."

There's no better visible example of how "corrective emotional experiences" pave the way to a reliable "emotional sense of direction" than the marital relationship of Great Britain's Catherine (Kate) and William.  

The childhoods of William and his younger brother Harry have been well documented. Their mother, Diana, was from a broken and tragically unhappy family. Her parents divorced when she was eight.

Never a motivated student, Diana was known for her shyness as well as her great interest in music and dance, and of course children.   

Twenty-year-old Diana became Princess of Whales when she married Charles, of age 33,  on July 29, 1981 at St. Paul's Cathedral, a setting chosen because it offered more seating than Westminster Abbey.

A television audience of 750 million viewed the wedding, while 600,000 lined the streets.  However, it has also been well documented that Diana had severe misgivings about the marriage and that the couple had little in common.

In addition, friends of Charles reported that he didn't seem like a man in love but instead one pushed into marriage.

Although Charles had stated that he and former lover and present wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, resumed their earlier affair only after his marriage to Diana had ended in all but legality, Diana learned on her honeymoon that the two remained in close touch when her husband wore cufflinks that had been a recent gift from Bowles.

Referring to this relationship, she said, "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." (Transcript of BBC Panorama interview, 1995). 

The misery of married life between Charles and Diana ended with their decree of divorce in August 1996. Along with her divorce, Diana also lost her title, Her Royal Highness, and became Diana, Princess of Wales.

At that time it was reported that Prince William, age 14, shaken by his mother's profound fear and unhappiness, assured her with these words, "Don't worry, Mummy, I will give it (the title) back to you one day when I am king" (Wikipedia). 

In 2001, Kate Middleton met Prince William, each described as diligent students, while they both studied at the University of St. Andrews.

Diana had made sure that her sons were not isolated by palace life and rules and that they interacted with those who did not consider themselves to be above the main stream (Morton, Andrew, 1992). Kate's parents, Michael and Carole, met as pilot and flight attendant.

The highly successful business they worked hard to create sells party supplies and decorations. Kate has had jobs in the real world and withstood an early break-up with William before their marriage on April 29, 2011. Estimates for the number who watched this marriage, like that of William's parents at Westminster Abbey, were enormous — 300 million or more.

At the time of their marriage Kate was 29, and William would become 29 the following June.

William and Kate have each had the opportunity to mature before choosing to marry. They have studied together, traveled together, gotten to know each other.

Kate is close to her parents, and she and William have each stayed at her parental home, rather than the palace, following the birth of both of their children, George on July 24, 2013 and Charlotte on September 8. 2014.

During each of her pregnancies Kate suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (severe, extreme morning sickness) and canceled official engagements. By all accounts, her husband showed deep concern. This quality of sensitivity was never seen in Charles's relationship with Diana.

Diana and those closest to her have shared that above all else, she wanted her husband to love her.

In picking a partner with his mother's style and kindness, but one who is far more emotionally secure, educated and experienced, William has been able to offer his children what had been denied him and his brother — the peace and tranquility of a home where each parent respect and love the other.

This has enabled him to find relief from the horrors of loneliness, rejection, and fear that were such a pervasive part of his early years, as well as early and subsequent years of his mother, who died in a car crash in 1997.

Diana's 12 carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire ring (which closely resembled her mother's engagement ring), once a sign of failed marriage, has now become a cherished symbol of continuity, respect, joy and hope.

George's outfits, similar to ones worn by William as a child, have added to this positive perspective..      

Through marriage, births, close communication and compatible interests with his wife William has been able to have a second chance to find and continue a direction of fulfillment and productivity. This "corrective emotional experience" seen by millions can offer both guidance and hope to others.

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