Through a Jungian Lens

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Women and The Magical Other – Pt 3

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The mystery of a woman doesn't get resolved with time/

The mystery of a woman doesn’t get resolved with time.

She knows I am taking her photo and she knows that she is loved regardless of reason. Reason doesn’t seem to enter into this at all. If anything, reason interferes with any hope of understanding. I married this woman 42 years ago. The journey of a marriage, of my marriage, is a curious journey that teaches so much about self and about other. As I mentioned earlier, this series will turn often to James Hollis’ book, The Eden Project. I bring his words here:

“A marriage vow is a guarantee of nothing certain, but it purports to be an expression of intentionality which is serious. long term and in depth. One of the implicit demands of marriage is that issues are to be faced and worked through, rather than evaded.” [p. 13]

This sounds rather straight forward and filled with common sense. But unsaid in the statement is the fact that much of what needs to be faced is not even recognised by either party. So much of what takes place and causes disruption and disconnect lays beneath the surface in the unconscious contents of both individuals as well as the dialogue of unconscious between the two.  This makes the task much, much more difficult. Hollis goes on to say:

“the quality of all of our relationships is a direct function of our relationship to ourselves. Since much of our relationship to ourselves  operates at an unconscious level, most of the drama and dynamics of our relationships to others and the transcendent is expressive or our own personal psychology. The best thing we can do for our relationships with others, and with the transcendent, then, is to render our relationship with ourselves more conscious.” [p. 13]

And this is where it gets most difficult, especially for me. It takes a lot of rearrangement of my thinking to accept that to do right for my marriage, I must devote a lot of energy to understanding myself. My patterns and habits have always focused on devoting time and energy to understanding my partner (not a great lot of success there since she still is a mystery woman to me) and to using every trick in the book to figure out what is needed and wanted (often contradictory). I function best as a caretaker, as a giver. Spending time on my own needs has been difficult, though necessary during the past few years as I am always feeling guilty about stealing time and energy from my partner, from the marriage.

I know that I am not alone in responding like this; many of us are tired of all the “me, me, me” that we have heard from other mouths. Most of that “me, me, me” has not been about doing the work of “I” or “self;” rather it is all about trying to satisfy needs and wants for which we don’t have the foggiest notion. Trying to feed the “me” is a losing proposition for we mistakenly take the desires and instincts at face value. The extra food, that more expensive car, the next husband or wife is not really about what had been there before being wrong or insufficient. All this wanting is a desperate act of trying to fill an emptiness within ourselves, an emptiness that we download onto others and for which we blame others. So, I have to re-think this business of getting to know the ins and outs of who I am, my psychology if I am to escape that forever repeating cycle of failure.

I look again at the photo of my wife and smile. The work behind and ahead is worth all of it.

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