“Reparative fantasy” is the notion that we often do not live in the simple reality of our lives but instead in the simple fantasy of how we want our lives to be. This is, in fact, quite common for most of us and it serves as a major defense against the emotional pains and traumas of our lives. The fantasies we typically hold onto are idealizations about ourselves and those we love, either as things are in the present, or often as things are going to be in the future… in essence, the idealized future to come. These fantasied idealizations often play a powerful role in marital disappointment and unhappiness!
Not uncommonly, threats to each partner’s reparative fantasy serve as triggers to repetitive negative cycles in the marriage. For example, some men are highly invested in sexual validation from their partners as a means of warding off underlying feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Such men are vulnerable to going into negative reactivity towards their partner if their behavior fails such a need for validation.