What makes up a marriage? Is it an outdated construct that reflects religious themes and rejects the instinctual nature of our existence? Some may say yes, others no. Today, we enter the idea of marriage to others with a mixed bag of unconscious factors. These often include moral ideas loosening from the gods they once belonged to. I don’t begin this weekly theme painting a bleaker picture of marriage to take a position on the institution. Rather, I want to provide some context for what modern marriage is up against.

The Organizing Principle

Our ancestors belonged to communities well established in the name of religious doctrine. Only one hundred years ago a new town would establish itself around a church steeple at its center. In the image of the mandala, this represented the focal point of the constellating community life. In other words, the organizing principle that the community belonged to. When we look at the building of towns and cities today, what do we find at the center? Banking. The god of economy tells us our place of belonging. Is it any wonder divorce, addiction, and suicide are at an all-time high? How loving and virtuous is your bank?

An Uncanny Reflection

The heart of the sacred communion of marriage has lost circulation through the body of our communities. What was once upheld by belief and support now wobbles down market street with empty pockets and a mental disorder. Our own relationships reflect, to this end, a deep need for a spiritual ground. They are a making conscious of our biases and a perspective of the soul in the institution of our partnerships.

Making Conscious the Unconscious

This week I want us to consider partnerly relationships of all sorts to be a kind of marriage. As of the three marriages we have been discussing these past weeks, the marriage to others I believe to be the most accessible and workable in mental health treatment. Now, for the most part, our work at Barn Life does not deal directly with a partnership, but we do, maybe without realizing it, work indirectly as we help to make conscious the unconscious structures, beliefs, and patterns that underlie our deepest bonds. Partners no longer need to be our client’s mothers, fathers, abusers, saviors, martyrs when they begin to manage the projection onto them. As we experience these projections as our own, we also find the room to heal.

Back to the Beginning

In The Three Marriages, David Whyte suggests that our marriages to life partners are often confused with our answers to life responsibilities. If I get the milk than that makes up for my existential angst. If we fight it out that’s my way of working through my own insecurities and so on. This kind of allegiance, in part, will always exist in our very human unfolding together. A true relationship can only thrive when the responsibility falls to the individual for the individual’s fulfillment. Scary as this may sound, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for the first marriage – the marriage to one’s own self. Let’s think upon our beliefs about relationships, the origins of those beliefs, and the consequences of those beliefs both good and bad. How in the presenting situation are we learning to see more consciously our fantasies and beliefs about our relationships?