Just what is inner marriage? It is no different than what Jung calls wholeness, or the process of individuation. Inner development and wholeness, then, becomes the very way in which we can nourish our outer marriages.
But how can we go about living out this call to inner marriage and relating to this hidden other side of us? We can only provide a brief summary here, but luckily there is an enormous literature that has grown up around Jung's work and is readily available. We have also created books, videos and audiotapes which look at the question of this inner marriage from the point of view of typology.
But before we summarize some of the basic principles that govern this inner work, a caution is in order. We are talking about normal psychological development, and not the kind of psychotherapy necessary if we are suffering from some deep psychological trauma. In those cases it is best to look for professional help, but in this more general field of psychological growth there is much we can do to took after our psychological health, just as we have to care for our physical health by good nutrition and exercise. Psychological work can be compared to learning how to drive a car. It would be foolish for us to imagine that we could simply jump into a car with no previous experience, no lessons, and no experienced driver at our side, and simply take off and make our way through the rush hour traffic. It is equally foolish to think that we could open the door that leads to the unconscious and plunge in with abandon. Yet, taking our time and with the help of our spouse, we can learn how to do our inner psychological work.
The first challenge we face in this kind of work is the difficulty we have in believing that this other side actually exists. Even if we believe it theoretically exists, it is still difficult to admit that it is a powerful influence on our day to day behavior. This reluctance is rooted in the fact that the unconscious, as its very name indicates, is unknown to us. We can't directly perceive it, so our first task is to find ways in which to get a glimpse of it. This is why Jung was so fond of dreams and fantasies because they gave him a picture of what the unconscious is like. Sometimes we remember a powerful and vivid dream, and with it comes a certain kind of strange feeling. It is as if for a moment, before we turn away, we have gotten a glimpse of that other world. So dreams are one way to do inner work, but usually we need someone who has some experience working with them before they begin to yield their meaning to us.
A simpler way to begin is by way of our own type. By now you probably have some idea of what the type is of your conscious and more developed side. From that knowledge you can deduce the type of your hidden unconscious side. In the case of Mark, in the last chapter, it would be rather easy for him to come to the realization that he is an introverted thinking type, and so he could deduce that his other side was extraverted feeling. But this knowledge, as true as it is, is going to do him very little good unless he can somehow make living contact with that other side. It is not enough for him to know that there is this hidden feminine dimension, or anima, in his unconscious, but he has to enter day by day into a living inner marriage with her.
Marriage has provided Mark with a striking way to see what is in his unconscious and begin to make contact with it. We have already seen how his relationship with Linda is filled with images and feelings that originate deep within him. It has become a screen, as it were, upon which is projected what his own unconscious is like. Up until now he has failed to see that, and has either elevated Linda to a superhuman level as some kind of angelic being, or damned her to hell as a devil. But the angels and devils really live inside himself, and it is his relationship to Linda that has made them visible. They are both faced with a wonderful opportunity. They don't have to laboriously try to discover what exists in their unconsciouses. It is staring them right in the face if they could only recognize it. Their very relationship which is beginning to tear them apart and could destroy them could also, if they could see it with new eyes, save them.
How could this work out in practice? Mark, for example, is annoyed when he comes home and finds Linda on the phone, and it takes her another ten minutes, at least, to hang up and greet him. Then no sooner had they sat down to dinner than someone else calls. Naturally it is for Linda, and so that disrupts dinner time. Mark would really like to say, "No phone calls during dinner." But he doesn't know how to do that without sounding like some kind of tyrant. Already he is catching himself making biting comments when Linda says something off the top of her head without really thinking about what she is saying.
Linda, for her part, feels like she is slowly being checked from every direction. It is as if Mark is building a prison around her to cut her off from the easy social contact that is her very life-blood. He seems to resist more and more whenever she wants to arrange some kind of social event for them, and he seems to resent it when she goes off by herself. It is as if nothing she can say or do can really satisfy him.
This kind of situation, which could spiral out of control and end in disaster, can also be turned around. What is Mark really doing? He is treating his wife as if she is somehow out of control and can't be trusted to say the appropriate thing or decide what she wants to do. Yet, ironically, it was Linda's outgoing and spontaneous nature that first drew him to her. Why does Mark feel that Linda is somehow out of control? The answer lies in his own undeveloped side. It is his own feelings that cannot really be trusted to say or do the appropriate thing. They are, in fact, too cut off from him and live a life that is out of his conscious control. But he can't see this, buried as they are deep in his unconscious. But what he does see is Linda who embodies in a very real way his extraverted feeling side. As long as he doesn't make contact with his own feelings, he will project them on her, and begin to make her life miserable, and his own, as well.
Here we have reached the critical point. Mark has to somehow come to the realization that his own feelings are driving the outer situation. This is very difficult to do. It is almost like a supreme act of humility. It is an admission that there is more to him than his well-developed thinking function. Deep inside him there is this woman whom he has neglected, and who really doesn't know how to act appropriately. She is the one who makes dumb remarks without thinking, or goes on and on without reflecting. She is the one he is trying to keep at bay and under control, and almost legislate her out of existence. He would like to be pure thinking and not have to deal with what appears to him to be the very messy reality of feeling. And he takes it all out on Linda.
Linda has to deal with her own inner marriage, as well. She is disorganized and unreflective, and she can't seem to break away from her friends, even when she should be paying attention to Mark. But at a deeper level she doesn't take time to pay attention to that introverted thinking man who lives deep inside of herself. She would really like to take some time for herself and to study and meditate, but somehow it never happens. The time she wants to set aside all gets swallowed up in errands, phone calls and visits. Every time she is about to have five minutes for herself, someone seems to call or come over and need her sympathy. But why is this happening? It is because the animus deep inside her is neglected and undeveloped. In a very real way she doesn't want to get to know him. She fears he might be cruel or tyrannical and cut her off from the warm flow of feelings that has always nourished her. These fears, of course, are the very way that she is beginning to see Mark. who, first embodied that strong, sure introversion and thinking that she was lacking, and now is being transmuted into a monster. She, too, has reached that critical moment where she needs an insight into what is really going on.
How can the critical insight arrive for both of them? Perhaps it can be born out of the love they have for each other. Perhaps one day they sit down and really look at each other and see the person they care so much about, and they sense that powerful forces beyond their conscious awareness and control have been weakening their relationship and threatening to end it altogether.
If they come to that realization, they have understood in a very real and practical way that the unconscious actually exists, and profoundly effects our daily behavior. What can they do about it? They need to deal with these powerful unconscious forces, carefully, prudently, and most of all, together. It is as if they are standing on a tiny little island of sand and big waves are rolling in at them, threatening to sweep them away. The unconscious is nothing to be underestimated, but at least the unconscious is now becoming indirectly visible through the history of their own relationship.
This is the time to put away the resentment that has been growing in them about each other. They should write it off to forces beyond their control and make a new beginning. Mark has to make a firm resolution to try to get in touch with his extraverted feeling side, and Linda has to do the same in regard to her introverted thinking side. These tasks would be very difficult to accomplish if they had to tackle them entirely alone. But they have each other. They have actual living models of what their undeveloped sides could become, at least in some small measure.
What can Mark do after his fundamental admission that he needs to work on his extraverted feeling side? He can't and shouldn't imagine that he can somehow give up his introverted thinking nature and become at extraverted feeling type like Linda. It wouldn't even be wise to give himself over to her kind of social schedule. His attempts have to be much more modest and more in line with his own nature. Mark does have friends, for example, and he does like to spend some time with them, and he realizes that he doesn't spend as much time as he should. Here he can make a conscious effort to call one of them up and arrange to go see them even though it disrupts his tight and orderly schedule. Another example. Mark by nature is not a party person, but if he is honest with himself, there is some part of him that would like to experience some of that reality. He can try to take a more active part in some of the things that Linda likes to do, and he also can create his own parties which would probably tend to be smaller, more intimate affairs than anything his wife would plan. What is crucial in all this is that Mark carry out these activities with the conscious intention of trying to build a bridge to that extraverted feeling side of his own personality. They become ways he enters into dialogue with that woman within, and tries to please her.
What should Linda's attitude be to his attempts? First and foremost, she has to realize how difficult for Mark these activities are, and not be critical of how modest they appear on the outside. If he wants to invite four people over for dinner, she has to restrain herself from inviting four more. If he wants to go with her to a party, she has to be ready to meet him halfway and come home a bit earlier than she would like.
Linda has to make her own attempts to make contact with that introverted thinking side within her. She may, for example, first become aware of how her own introverted needs are continually being subordinated to her extraverted personality and the multitude of things that she does. Then it might make sense for her to set aside fifteen minutes or half an hour during the day that will be her own special time sheltered from all phone calls or visits, and dedicated to try to find a way to build a bridge to the animus. She might try reading books she always wanted to get to, or practice some kind of simple meditation that emphasizes focusing inward. That relatively short period of time could be enough to begin to transform her life and her marriage. Mark, for his part, has to see these modest attempts for what they really are. The slightest word of scorn about the fruits of Linda's quiet times could do great harm. She is not attempting to think like he thinks, or to become accomplished in some area that he values. She is trying to get in touch with her own thought in her own way. She is trying to give some nourishment to that dimension deep in her psyche that has been too long neglected. It is his role to encourage what she is doing and even shelter her precious time alone by playing the extravert, as it were, and dealing with what needs to be done. In a relatively small and modest way they are both reversing their roles because they now see that the wholeness that they experienced when they first got together was the promise that they could become whole within themselves.
We have focused on just one common type of marriage between the extraverted feeling type and the introverted thinking type. Naturally, many other kinds of relationships abound, but the same principles hold true.
Sit down with your spouse and see if you have reached that critical moment in which you both don't want things to go on like they did before and are willing to stop blaming each other and start admitting that there are powerful forces in the unconscious of each of you that have been responsible for a large portion of your behavior.
Then you can begin, together, to explore those areas that have become problems, and try to find some simple things that each of you can do, with the help of the other, to begin to look within and make contact with your other side.
What is the secret that can transform your marriage? It is that the secret of our wholeness lies within each of us. We have to stop putting the burden for it on our spouse. Both of us are meant to go on that inner journey that leads to individuation, but it is our partner who should be our companion along the way, helping and sustaining our own journey. If we take the pressure off each other to supply each other with wholeness, and begin to seek it inside ourselves, our marriage will actually become much stronger and more loving.
Now it is your turn to contribute to this discussion. Send us your questions and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org