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Courtship to Marriage: A Tricky Transaction

In Greek mythology, there are some marvelous stories of marriage. Here, for instance, are two tales about how Zeus and Hera tricked each other into marriage and the inevitable disappointments that follow such chicanery. These stories are wonderful parables for the present.

Wounded Birds

Zeus, the chief and most macho of the gods, fell in love with Hera. An independent and proud goddess, she was not swept off her feet by his wooing and rejected his offer of marriage. Zeus, wounded by this rejection but still wanting the fair Hera, decided to trick her by disguising himself as a poor, bedraggled, wounded bird. Hera, upon seeing the creature, took pity on it. The bird’s suffering struck a sympathetic chord deep within her own heart and she tenderly warmed the pathetic but charming creature at her bosom. Thus it was that Zeus, the great thrower of thunderbolts, won the heart of Hera and eventually tricked her into marriage.

There is much to be learned from this story. Wounded birds can be most disarming. Women often can sense an underlying tenderness and vulnerability that is born of childhood mistreatment or prior hurtful relationships beneath the veneer of macho men. These otherwise independent women will go to incredible lengths to succor such men, especially women whose fathers had a similar core of sadness. They long to fulfill an old desire to restore the wounded bird to health through the generous gift of a love that transcends any love they have ever known.

It is upsetting when the wounded bird responds not with gratitude and growth, but instead becomes proud and petulant, distant and defiant. It’s much too frightening to a macho man to have his defenses down for long. Often enough, the sensitive man our helpful lady married vanishes and an irrational, ridiculous god of the male ego appears in his stead, throwing thunderbolts of abuse at his beloved before he flies the coop with some little chickadee. The wounded bird denies his vulnerability and hides his unhappiness by wounding the woman who cared for him, just as Zeus left Hera hurt and betrayed.

Why do women stay with the men who abuse and disappointment them? Perhaps they are still enchanted by that little wounded bird they are sure is there beneath the bravado and cruelty. Perhaps their self-esteem is tied up in their self-perceived ability to cure with their love. Perhaps they can’t stand the idea that they might fail to revive the gentleness in their beloved. Perhaps they are reenacting an old drama that has been going on in their families for generations. Whatever the reason, women beware! Unless the wounded person is even more motivated than you are to deal with his feelings and develop a new kind of relationship, you are, like Hera, forever doomed to dissatisfaction.

Courtship to Marriage: A Tricky Transaction

Robert Stone

APA Reference
Stone, R. (2020). Courtship to Marriage: A Tricky Transaction. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.