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Family Stories and Myths


Metaphors are embedded in family stories and myths. These metaphors supply meaning for relationships and the relational culture. Leslie Baxter identified four different metaphors dating couples have regarding marriage:

  1. Marriage as work-exchange (marriage involves effort and coordination);
  2. Marriage as journey-organisms (marriage is an ever changing process of growth);
  3. Marriage as force-danger (marriage is a risky undertaking; you can be hurt, you have limited control);
  4. Marriage as game (marriage has a winner and a loser).

Understanding the metaphor used by one's spouse is important because research has shown that those who share similar metaphors toward marriage are more compatible versus those with different metaphors.

Metaphors have also been examined by family counselors. Because the metaphors in reoccurring stories or arguments are often representations of the family's problems, it is believed that if the counselor can help the family change the metaphor, he or she can help the family change (Yerby, Buerkel-Rothfuss, and Bochner 1990).

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily & Marriage TraditionsFamily Stories and Myths - Definition Of Family Stories And Myths, Functions Of Family Stories And Myths, Metaphors, Using Family Stories As A Research Tool