1. You are an Accumulation of Experiences
Who you are and what you are living right now is an accumulation of experiences, both yours and those you grew up with and around. We are layered with these moments that are stored in our heart, stomach, and limbic brain. We are all an “aggregation of life experiences stored in your limbic body. This moment now is not independent in time, but part of a casual chain rooted deep in your inner history” (Bache, C, Lifecycles).
We argue and debate with our spouse today, but the roots of our feelings and desires that are driving our reactions in these arguments are much older. They started way “upstream” in moments in our family history. We are likely not aware that these historical events created such an indelible imprint.
By opening up to these moments we undo the hold they have on us and our marriage.
2. Child Inside the Adult
The emotions and feelings that you absorbed from your parents are the foundation of who you are, and how you feel and react. You have to go back to the child that lives inside of you. It turns out that your relationship with your spouse started when we were 7 years old because that is how and when you learned to relate to men, women, and yourself.
You were formed in the Space in Between (SIB) your parents. During the first ten years of your life, your “nervous system acts as an “antenna,” which is tuned to and responds to the electromagnetic fields produced by the heart of other individuals” (McCraty, R.Ph.D., Trevor Bradley, R. Ph.D., Tomasino, D. BA; The Heart Has Its Own ‘Brain’ and Consciousness). Your parents transferred their world, their joys, sorrows, and longings via the magic of electrons.
“When people touch or are in proximity, a transference of the electromagnetic energy produced by the heart occurs” (Heartmath Institute). In order to understand yourself and how to succeed in marriage, you have to go back to those emotions you absorbed in the SIB. “The mammalian nervous system depends for its neurophysiologic stability on a system of interactive coordination, wherein steadiness comes from synchronization with nearby attachment figures” (Lewis, Amini, Lannon, General Theory of Love).
Nietzsche agrees. “The child is far from being buried in the man…On the contrary, it rules him absolutely” (Campbell, J., Primitive Mythology).
The friction you are experiencing in your life, especially in your relationship to your spouse, is the catalyst and siren call to do the work on yourself.
Friction is the most basic force in the universe. It is the foundation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which simply states that two opposing forces or elements will continue to interact until their differences get evened out. Nothing can escape this universal law. We must therefore embrace it, turn towards it and the uncomfortable interactions and exchanges with your partner.
This friction will light up all of your old memories and feelings. Now, you take these charged emotions into your therapy, into your silent sitting at home, into the “the cave you fear to enter, which holds the treasure you seek (Joseph Campbell). Carl Jung says the same thing, “A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them.”
By returning and opening up to these feelings, you begin to understand and accept these for what they were. You bring an adult perspective to these youth-based experiences. By accepting, which is not always easy, you eventually undo the impact these inherited emotions are having on you and your marriage.
4. Four Archetypes
Your marriage is actually 8 relationships going on at once, not just 1. Each of us carries into our marriage unconscious, unexamined relationships with and reaction patterns to 4 universal forces or Archetypes resting inside of us. These 4 basic reaction patterns are driving our current behavior with our partners.
These 4 universal reaction patterns or Archetypes are:
- The Female Archetype: How we respond to our mother or the dominant, original female figure in our life. There is an imbedded pattern that we have developed in response to the central female energy that now informs and clouds our experience and responses to all women and the feminine qualities of intuition, emotion, nurturance, vulnerability, creativity, and patience
- Male Archetype: How we respond to and what we experienced from our father or the original, central male figure in our life when growing up, now informs and shades our reactions to males and the masculine qualities of directedness, assertiveness, purpose, challenges, discipline, and self-sacrifice
- Relationship Archetype: What we experienced and witnessed in our parent’s and/or primary care giving relationship growing up. That original male/female relationship that we observed and absorbed in our youth, is the lens and filter through which we now view and operate in our own marriage
- Relationship to Self Archetype: The most difficult to conceptualize of these 4 archetypes, our self-concept and knowledge and awareness of who we are and what we really desire, feel, and believe. Ironically, this 4th archetype is the only thing in our life that we can control. How we feel is the only experience of life that we can know, control, or change. Everything else is truly out of our hands and regulation
These 4 powerful response patterns in us are continually interacting with our spouse’s 4 patterns. That is the math of our marriage, 4 + 4 or 8 relationships continually colliding in your relationship. Understanding the roots of the 4 archetypes in ourselves will change the entire dynamic of your marriage.
The whole premise of therapeutic counseling is that you have to go back into these 4 in order to know why you are behaving and responding. You have to find the Why in you, NOT your Spouse.