THOUGHTS ON MARRIAGE AND PARTNERSHIPS, DIVORCE AND SEPARATION
By Jean Mathews Wildervanck
If sibling-ship is all about competing for the love of the parent, then intimate partnerships is all about a coupe finding and expressing love in an intimate, meaningful and deeply mutual way.
Since earliest times there has been a quest to find one’s TRUE LOVE.
Initially it was reserved for the gods of Greek myths. Legends and fairy tales the world over tell tales about this love. In +/- the past hundred years (relatively recent) more and more ‘earthlings’ set out to experience such love first hand. This is what we long for.
Often we use the word ‘SOUL MATE’ - laden words that conger up the notion of completeness.
Most don’t get it right first time round; some never do, but, increasingly, this is our quest.
The typical ending to this traditional story is ‘and they lived happily ever after’.
Even if you do find your soul mate, beware, it does not guarantee an easy life!
‘Intimate’ alludes to the expression of love in a sexual, emotional and spiritual way.
This has major implications for family and finance.
Sex, Soul and Marriage
Three opinions: 1) Neal Donald Walsch’s claim in one of the Conversations with God is that a marriage or partnership should need only endure for as long as it serves the spiritual and personal growth of both parties concerned.
2) Rev Helen Penfold – “I officiate at many wedding ceremonies; I recognize this as a public declaration the couple make of their commitment to each other. I am more concerned with the union of two souls for as long as they allow for each other’s soul growth”.
3) Andre P Brink in an interview for an Inflight magazine was asked why there is so much sex in his novels. His answer: sex is special and central in our lives because it is the only way we temporarily forget our utter loneliness. We unite and feel complete; a brief experience of true oneness. It can be very sacred and spiritual. Think of India’s Kama sutra practices.
At a deep psychological level, we all want to overcome our essential loneliness and sex offers a way of doing so. We want to complete ourselves and be whole. Male and female united… one!
When you share that much of yourself, physically and emotionally, it has spiritual significance.
When having sex, whether lustful or loving, our AURA’S get entangled and this has implications for the soul. At some or other level sex always ‘costs’ something.
The best/ideal currency of sex is genuine love and care.
While many would argue that sex can be had just to meet a physical need – and these needs can be very strong – this statement reflects a particular level of human consciousness.
In fact there is no such thing as casual sex; it always has emotional and spiritual implications.
A Brief Overview of Marriage
For hundreds if not thousands of years marriage had very little to do with love at the outset of the marriage. It was, and in many societies still is, an arranged union mostly for socio-economic and pragmatic reasons. In fact, love matches and the nuclear family is a recent development in Western society and even more recent in other societies.
In earliest times marriage was instituted as a form of legacy and wealth management to minimize conflict among descendants. It ensured that men took responsibility for the children they fathered. Those born within wedlock had more legitimacy and thus more rights. Throughout agrarian times it was an earliest form of governance. In some countries (e.g. ancient China) ‘governors/officials’ were made into Enoch’s so that they would be fair and not be biased to their ‘own’ women or children.
In Western society arranged marriages extended well into the industrial age, notably among Europe’s upper echelons. As in other parts of the world, these marriages were arranged based on land and wealth. Think of the novels set in the late 19th century by authors such as Jane Eyre, Bronte sisters, Catherine Cookson, Victoria Holt and many more. All told stories of love matches that overstepped the boundaries of class in the name of true love, setting the stage for love matches in the 20th century. It makes one realize how relatively recent these developments are.
In many other cultures, to this day, marriage continues to be more about an economically justified merger of two families than a love match. This is confirmed by Carter and McGoldrick who state that to this day marriage is essentially about the joining of two families. The new couple negotiate what to take (socio-culturally and emotionally) from their respective families of origin and what to create anew.
Irrespective of culture, it is said, 85% of women marry for financial and security reasons rather than for love, with women’s first loyalty and responsibility being to the children they bare.
Currently the institution of marriage seems to be in free fall as societal norms relax, religion loses its influence and economic factors dramatically change the playing field. Amid these rapid changes there is no longer consensus on what marriage is or should look like. Divorce is very much part of society’s landscape and hardly carries stigma any more. Serial partnerships and patchwork / reconstituted families are very common. Westerners may frown on polygamy but do it serially.
Many women are well qualified and independent; they earn their own money and are much more assertive. Add to this is the fact that many marriage therapists and relationship counsellors advocate the right of each individual to be happy rather than making sacrifice for the sake of family.
In some countries open relationships are on the increase with partners agreeing to provide a stable home for their children. Another new development in our borderless world is the number of Western men who seek refuge with submissive/compliant women from other cultures.
In South Africa many up and coming young black women from polygamous backgrounds frown on Zuma and his many wives in their hope to be in a modern true love relationship. He symbolizes what they do not want. Many others find it culturally quite acceptable to sleep their way to the top as Africa struggles to find its moral code amid a greater acceptance of promiscuity at a global level (think of the trend portrayed in movies and magazines).
I chose a phenomenological appraisal of the current situation rather than judgment based on a particular worldview with its aught’s and should’s. It is. We are in a time of great flux.
What is true is that the desire for TRUE LOVE is at an all-time high and I think the possibility to actually experience it, is increasing in the consciousness of humankind.
Navigational Guidelines for Intimate Relationships at this Time
It is said that the phenomenon of ‘being in love’ lasts 18 months (apparently there is a physiological hormonal reason for this). Thereafter the following criteria may indicate the long term prospects of a couple. Are you in relationship with the
wrong person for the wrong reason?
wrong person for the right reason?
right person for the wrong reason?
right person for the right reason?
The first two categories have a poor prognosis.
Jay Haley says ‘wrong person, wrong reason’ couples seldom make the two year mark.
It is said ‘A woman’s loyalty is tested when her man has nothing.
A man’s loyalty is tested when he has everything.’ ANON.
For the remainder of this session, let’s assume you married/partnered the right person for the right reason… you found true love! That does NOT guarantee that you two will ‘live happily ever after’. It is now about how the couple journey together and face life’s many challenges. Life is eventful. How do you negotiate all of this? Can you jump the rivers and ravines together? Often one partner stays behind; gets stuck at a level in consciousness (think FW and Marieka de Klerk).
Currently ladies often have the upper hand being emotionally more intuitive and communicative.
Many women are increasingly in tune with their own needs and what’s happening in the family as well as changes in society. Men are generally more focused on industry (their work life primarily gives them their sense of self) and societal goals (wealth creation).
Women are in a position to help men BUT women tend to either under or over communicate.
Under communicate – submissive; don’t speak our truth.
Over – assertively and emotionally communicate our case but fail to listen; to draw men out.
The 5 C’s that make for successful partnerships:
- Commitment – ‘for better or for worse’; ups and downs of life
- Companionship & friendship
- Common interests
- Chore sharing
The first two are crucial in any relationship. The last three are ‘nice to have’.
An intimate (sexual) love relationship is all about sharing and shaping each other at a very deep level; at a soul level. The couple are each other’s grindstone! The shaping generally implies shafting… friction… sometimes it’s more useful, less useful or totally not useful, even damaging. We mature even as we nurture the next generation. Society and the family do an intricate dance. Both evolve and the incentive for both is to move to higher levels of expression but this does not always happen.
EXERCISE: Consider the following two statements,
Information is a difference and difference is a relationship. Mara S Palatzoli
I am I through the eyes of another. Philosopher, Martin Buber
How has your differences taught you about who you are?
Has this helped or hindered your relationship.
EXERCISE: I am willing to have my relationships be a force that takes me to my full enlightenment. HeartsinTrueHarmony.com
How has your partner(s) helped to shape who you are today?
Extracting oneself from a failed relationship is not easy. Why? Because of the intimacy. A sexual partnership implies ‘the merging of body fluids’ (physically influencing each other at a cellular level) and a spiritual union (two auras’s intertwining). It’s hard to extract oneself but it can be done with psycho-spiritual counselling and own work. Healing is always possible.
Maintaining a truly loving and intimate relationship is hard work. Our soul’s evolve as we journey together. With feedback, interdependence and a healthy symbiosis the couple move toward a shared vision. When partners exit a relationship before their shared journey is complete, either or both tend to re-do those soul lessons in their ‘new’ relationships.
Recommended further reading
- Gary Chapman’s ‘5 Love languages’ i.e. words of affirmation, acts of service, the giving of gifts, time, and physical touch.
- Sternberg's Love Triangle