Through a Jungian Lens

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Relationship and The Journey of Individuation

with 14 comments


Coffee alone

I often wonder at the cost of this journey called individuation. I have been married forty years to an incredible woman. She has always deserved better than me though she hasn’t always known this. We clung together hard during our first few decades as we learned about each other and raised a family of three children. We still find ourselves clinging tightly together.  Even in the early years I had a tendency to disappear into a different dimension, leave the planet so-to-speak.  I wrote a poem to this woman after two years of marriage that I want to bring here:

The Philosopher and His Maureen – 1973

Taking for granted
your need and your warmth
Taking for granted
tomorrow . . .
I silently sit
with a book in hand
and silently, so silently
leave you . . .
Gone to the mountains
of philosphy and men
gone in pursuit of 
meaning . . . 
While you, painfully wait
for my return to you
while you pray
that I won’t be long . . .
Nietzsche, Buber
Spinoza and Leibniz
compete for my eyes
and my time . . . 

And you, so quiet, so sad
yet so calm
and you, wait
you, whom I call my wife

Back then, it was philosophy, books, and photography that somehow stole into our relationship and took my attention and had me soaring. Even then, I would be able to look back and see her there, alone even though she was married to a man she thought would be there for her, with her. Now, it is psychology, philosophy and the call of the psyche to an inner world that is as much about darkness as it is about life..  Today, she found herself sitting alone on a beautiful Philippine beach because the one she thought would/should be there with her had disappeared again into an inner world.

Yes, I wonder about the cost.  I wonder at all that has been lost along the way, the tears that I have caused to fall.  How can I call this love?  Does love do this to the one who is loved? Does love do this to the lover? I know the intensity of my feeling and I sense the intensity of hers. Yet in spite of the wishes of either of us, we are both left alone with ourselves, sometimes even when the person one loves and is loved by in return holds one tightly, urgently, passionately. Is it easier to be alone and be by oneself than it is to be alone beside the one you love?

I wish I had the answers, not just questions.


Written by Robert G. Longpré

November 20, 2011 at 5:28 pm

14 Responses

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  1. Dear Robert and Maureen,
    Your Post of today touched me in the deepst of my soul – and made me LOVE you both !
    This is an ODE for/to everybody who loves – it is universal !

    Opa Bear

    November 20, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    • Thank you, Opa for your words. 🙂


      November 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

  2. Robert,

    Your thoughts have helped me appreciate the time my husband and I are within our own individual universe as I have sometimes noticed that when we come back together, we bring a freshness to our relationship.


    November 21, 2011 at 3:07 am

    • That is vital, stepping away so as to clear the eyes and spirit so that one can truly appreciate the one we love. Thank you.


      November 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

  3. It is a costly journey, indeed. And I don’t have a good record to tell you that few couples make it together. When A says to B they wish to grow and will you come along, well, A and B often don’t. It is another cost – changing all and losing most.

    I wonder if this truism is where we get the expression “If you want to cross the bridge you have to pay the toll”


    November 21, 2011 at 11:44 am

    • One has to pay the toll – at least to cross the River Styx. Thanks good doctor.


      November 23, 2011 at 10:01 am

  4. Robert,
    Look how Jung lived this part of his life. Alone in the Tower, taking care of himself, living simply. Many visitors. Jung writes in MDR; “At Bollingen I am in the midst of of my true life. I am most deeply myself. . . .

    I have done without electricity, and tend the fireplace and stove myself. Evenings I light the old lamps. There is no running water, and I pump the water from the well. I chop the wood and cook the food. These simple acts makes man simple; and how difficult it is to be simple.”

    How many imagine their “true life” to be found in a ticky-tacky macmansions in a scar on the landscape that modern housing developments are.

    John Ferric

    November 22, 2011 at 12:10 am

    • I look at Jung, at Thoreau and at others who dare to be unique. I also see the costs and the pain suffered by others such as Anna, Jung’s wife and Jung’s children. I see Nietzsche and Rilke and so many others who suffered. Their gifts have made a difference to my life, but at what cost to theirs, to their families, to those who loved them in a face-to-face world. Hard questions that can only be answered in the follow-up to this life.


      November 23, 2011 at 10:04 am

  5. Once again, your words strike a chord in me. My husband and I have been married 35 years. He’s the one with the “outer geography” (he’s quite the world traveler) and I’m the one with “inner geography” (meditation, active imagination, deep inner work). This hasn’t always been easy and yes, there has been a cost. However, the longer we’re married, the more I’m seeing how we are benefiting from each other’s gifts.


    November 23, 2011 at 2:08 am

    • There is a balance when opposites unite. I think that this is what you and I experience in our respective marriages. Differences force us to acknowledge the uniqueness in our partners allowing us to get past projections. The contrast also serves to shed light on the mystery of “self.” Thanks, Lee.


      November 23, 2011 at 10:08 am

  6. Alone time is very important, and here I wonder if you are projecting something onto Maureen that may not always be there? Sure, sitting on a beach looking into beauty is something we may want to share with someone we love. There are times for closeness and sharing. But as a busy mother, wife, teacher, etc etc there were times when that aloneness was the best gift I was ever given.

    Her need to keep you happy may tell her to say she missed you during those moments, but sometimes being there for someone means giving her space as well. Her growth (in whatever direction) depends on her space just as much as your growth depends on your space.

    With this one, we cannot know what the other really needs and wants. For many women, their socialisation requires them to see their own needs as least important, and so her responses to aloneness can be complicated – peace and relaxtion/worrying about leaving something undone/wondering if you need something/wortrying that her usefulness is over…

    Lotus Eater

    November 23, 2011 at 8:48 am

    • Lotus, I took this understanding because of conversations between the two of us. My wife and I talk, daring to look at the tender spots and the affect that each of us has on the other. It has been what has allowed us to still be together in spite of differences and that existential sense of feeling all alone at critical times. Thank you for speaking up for another way of understanding the feminine. Men don’t often get it (including myself).


      November 23, 2011 at 10:12 am

  7. Beautiful post Robert, thank you, and such a necessary meditation on love. Also lovely to connect with you again.

    I’m finding fewer rules for relationships… there’s a deep balance that being worked out, possibly over years, and we often know so little of the facts of this process… unless we dig and ask for divine help in having this revealed to us.


    November 28, 2011 at 5:48 am

    • Hi Ron, good to talk with you again 🙂 Yes, relationships are hard to define, to contain or understand with any depth. As soon as we think we have the idea that we have it sorted out, even as therapists, a rule is broken and relationship flourishes in spite of the rules, or it dies in spite of everything pointing in the right directions. I am beginning to see that the biggest factors are all unconscious and all about resonance at the unconscious level, or lack of resonance – something that obviously can’t be measured or objectified. Glad that you are writing again 🙂


      November 28, 2011 at 9:40 am

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