2004-12-06: Marriage as a Psychological Relationship

Marriage as a Psychological Relationship (1925, tr 1954)

by C. G. Jung (1875-1961), tr. R. F. C. Hull (1913-1974)

This article was mentioned, in an intriguing way, in Understanding Emotions. I read a version in The Basic Writings of C. G. Jung, edited by Violet S. de Laszlo.

I found it more interesting than I would have predicted, though of course it is written from a Jungian point of view. He says, “Whenever we speak of a ‘psychological relationship’ we presuppose one that is conscious, for there is no such thing as a psychological relationship between two people in a state of unconsciousness.” How can one argue with that?

Jung says that consciousness rises in a child out of depths of unconsciousness, “at first like separate islands, which gradually unite to form a ‘continent,’ a continuous land mass of consciousness.” He then describes relationships generally, and the fact that they are determined in large part by the history with the parents (especially of the opposite sex). A marriage relationship that forms when a person is capable only of a narrow relationship with the partner is necessarily a narrow relationship. As each partner matures, generally at different rates and in different directions, the marriage relationship typically is strained. He uses a metaphor of the container and the contained to indicate the way in which one partner with broader interests and deeper insight becomes an object of mystery to the other, who attempts simultaneously to follow and to constrain the more mature.

There is a lot of interesting insight in the article, and not too much mumbo-jumbo, and it is expressed (in this translation) in an interesting way. However, I’m not sure how ‘moving’ I found it.


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