Love and Marriage: Separate Considerations

Historically, love and marriage have not been synonymous . . . As a matter of fact, only in the last century and a quarter has the vox populi claimed marriage and love as one and the same.

Love and Marriage: Separate Considerations

Heading northwest on the Mekong River not too far out of Ho Chi Minh City, these homes on stilts made me realise how life along this river must be always subject to the unpredictable water of the river. Looking at the network of supporting poles, small sticks that would by themselves seem insignificant spurs me to think about all the differences I encounter while living in Asia and in China in particular.

Working at a university, I get to see young men and women every day as they move through the steps from childhood to adulthood.  Teaching them a second language allows me to find out a lot about their ways of understanding the world.  When teaching a second language, the quickest method is to use base knowledge of the first language and life experience as hooks for the second language.  In other words, teach them what they already know, only in the target language.  Since at this stage of life, relationships are the biggest focus of these young people, giving them a chance to talk about relationships and their beliefs allows them to speak with more confidence as they don’t have to learn new concepts, just the vocabulary and expressions.  Aside from their romantic notions that come out of watching American films, these young people have a very practical sense of what marriage is all about.  Love is not synonymous with marriage as it is in the western world.

“Historically, love and marriage have not been synonymous . . . As a matter of fact, only in the last century and a quarter has the vox populi claimed marriage and love as one and the same.  This is not to say that happily committed people have not loved each other, but rather that for most of human history the purpose o marriage was to bring stability to the culture rather than make an individual happy or serve the task of mutual individuation.  Possibly the greatest number of history’s marriages would, by today’s standards, be described as loveless, for they were contracted arrangements made to produce, protect and nurture the young, thus to preserve the tribe, to transmit social and religious values and to channel anarchic libido in socially useful directions.   

Similarly, in many marriages love, whatever love may prove to be, is simply not the determinative value.  What more commonly has brought people together, the energy which seeks synergy, are the operative complexes of each.  One or both may seek to find the good parent in the other, may even wish to find an abuser in order to confirm a wounded sense of self, or may be seeking what was missing in the family of origin.  Or, one may marry for a sense of transferred power.” (Hollis, The Eden Project, pp41-42)

With these words, I understand better how the young men and women in my classes dutifully abandon a “love” mate because the parents don’t support the union.  I understand better why young Asian women willingly enter into relationships with older western men.  As one young female told me, it is about power.  The want to marry power and thus gain power themselves, a sense of security in a crowded and competitive world where there is not enough for everyone.  

These young people believe in love, fall in love and rebel for love.  But, for the most part, these young men and women fall back into line in order to fit in with the needs and demands of their culture.
Maybe there is something to learn here.  Maybe we (I) put too many demands on the people we marry making all of us crazy in the process?

Robert G. Longpré is well known among people interested in Jungian Psychology because of his excellent site, Through a Jungian Lens, parts of which are reproduced here by permission.  He says the following about himself:

"I am wearing a backpack in the photo because that is often how anyone would see me at this point in my life.  I am on a journey of soul, a journey in search of meaning and in search of self.  I am a retired school teacher and school administrator having taught in various schools in Saskatchewan, Canada.  I was a principal for a number of years as well.  Intermingled with my career in education was a second career as a psychotherapist.  Needing to take care of students with issues and later, teachers with issues, I took a number of university and certificate courses to allow me to work more effectively and safely with those whose care I was entrusted.  My counselling focus eventually shifted to include others and to include some “depth” work.  The depth work had a foundation in Jungian psychology.

"Now that I am retired, I am currently in Calgary, Canada working on my writing, my journey through a personal “Dark Night of the Soul” with my wife of forty-one years sharing most of my days and dreams.  Our children and grandchildren have their own homes in both Canada and the U.S.A.  For those interested in these things, I have three children and six grandchildren.

"Since retirement, we have travelled to a number of countries with some becoming places of part-time residence over the past five years. We lived in Changzhou, China for the better parts of four years.  Three months in Costa Rica during one winter, and three months in the Yucatan, Mexico during another winter were other longer stays during this time.  Added to this was a month in Rajasthan, India, a month in Thailand, and a month in IndoChina with most of that time spent in Vietnam.  This past winter break, I spent a a break of ten days in the Philippines.  Of course, if you are a reader here, you are already aware of these things as the selection of photos talk about my response to being in all of these places.  In travelling with a camera, I discover myself through images of both the known and the unknown."

May 22nd, 2011 at 9:20 am
Posted in James Hollis, Jungian Psychology
Tagged with Asia, complexes, consciousness, James Hollis, Jungian Psychology, libido, love, marriage, other, power, psyche, relationship, self, Sony A550 DSLR, The Eden Project, unconscious, Vietnam

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