Marriage: The Bride and the Groom

Marriage: The Bride and the Groom

All 22 Archetypes in the Architecture are dynamic: they are best perceived through the experiences proper to them. Think of Archetypes as the different types of events that weave together to form your life experience. The Bride is the event that catapults you into a new cycle of experience, while the Groom is the culmination of the action of all the preceding Archetypes (1-6). The Bride Archetype is dynamic in the sense the it heralds rapid change; whereas, the Groom Archetype is dynamic in the sense that it gives a complete picture of the Story of Mind from beginning to end.

Although all Archetypes are dynamic in the sense that they describe the experiences we move into and eventually out of, there is a sense in which all of the preceding Archetypes have been static: they form a cyclic experience without any clear forward movement or evolutionary path. The Suitor is ignorant and foolish in his pursuits, never knowing what kind of trouble his inklings will get him into. When aligned with positive morality, the Suitor is honest and focused, but still ignorant. The Father, on the other hand, is analytic and ponderous by nature. When aligned with positive morality, the Father learns to be understanding and accepting, but he does not necessarily have a clear sense of direction. The Father is a theorist and ruler, not an adventurer. He can make sense of the expressions of the Mother, forming a map that integrates and relates all the many interrelated aspects of self, world, and other, but his position on that map is static. The Suitor moves toward the experience he desires, while the Father stops to make sense of the experience he has acquired.

In addition to these two actors (Suitor and Father), there are, of course, the feminine correlates: the acted upon. The Débutante shows us the other (or self as other on the inner level) as mysterious and alluring, something desirable. The Mother, on the other hand, shows us the other partially revealed. In the Mother, we see a complex layering of ideas, aesthetic expression, emotion, and other various feelings. She gushes with content for the Father to integrate into his map of reality, refining her expressions by making sense of them. The Mother is keeper of all information about the Father’s experience, but she does not translate her symbolic expressions to him; he must do that himself.

The cyclic relationships of Suitor, Débutante, Mother, and Father, all converge to tell a Story. The Story told in a single cycle of these four Archetypes is but one event among many. In its most literal form, the Story is one of a romantic relationship. Most adults have experienced more than one long term romantic relationship in their lives. The relationship always begins as an interaction between Suitor and Débutante, and gradually progresses into Mother and Father as the two involved become more familiar with each other. The more mature we are, the more agile we become at alternating gender roles, but the Archetypes involved are always the same.

At some point, however, the relationship in its existing manifestation becomes stagnant. The Father knows how the Mother will react to anything he says or does. The Mother knows what the Father will say when she gets emotional. The Suitor subsides because there is not much mystery left, and so the Débutante is harder and harder to see. The Storyteller finds that zher Story is repetitive, that it is in danger of becoming cliché, and the Child becomes bored. For most relationships, this kind of stagnation signifies the end of the relationship. Archetypally, though, ending the relationship is only one the possibilities—all of which demand major change. Because none of the previous Archetypes are suited to handling an experience of either transformation (in the case of the Bride) or completeness (in the case of the Groom), we are clearly entering the territory of a new set of Archetypes.

Archetype #6: The Bride

Marriage: The Bride and the Groom ArchetypesThe Bride Archetype exists within the span of a moment. Every bride can only be Bride for a day because at the center of being a Bride is the moment of choosing. The Bride, an expression of the unconscious mind, has the freedom to choose her Groom, just as he chooses her. The Bride’s act of choosing, however, is uniquely instantaneous, while the Groom’s act of choosing is a slow process that builds to unstoppable momentum. Although a man may get cold feet prior to his wedding, the rare runaway groom is the exception that proves the rule: the Bride is the one who is in danger of changing her mind upon the altar. At the Wedding, the Bride is offered a place within a Story chosen by the Groom. He has given her access to a specific role within his life and her choice is whether she is content with that role or not. In a broader sense, then, the Bride chooses who she will be and how she will be treated.

The Marriage cannot exist unless the Story of the two lovers transports the two into greater moral coherence toward each other. It’s one thing to be in a relationship, but to choose to marry someone entails a new kind of moral purity, without which the marriage is doomed. When we see people who continue to go through the motions of a lifeless marriage, we are not witnessing the salvaging of a marriage, but two people desperately clinging to a corpse. A marriage between two people does not accidentally die; rather, it dies because the Stories into which they had fit each other were not functional enough to last the test of time. Thus, only a morally coherent Story is functional.

The Bride Archetype, at the core, represents the act of choosing moral coherence by abandoning one moral attitude—whether Good or Evil. Within this Archetype, both Bride and Groom must choose moral coherence: whereas the Groom decides the Story, the Bride decides whether she wants to be part of that Story. Although this may seem absurd to us (that’s not what weddings are about!), popular film plays this trope out ad nauseum: A married woman cannot admit that her marriage is empty. She meets a man who eventually falls in love with her and treats her the way she has always wanted to be treated. The dynamic tension within her mounts until she must choose between the husband she has and the husband she wants. If she chooses the husband she has, the Audience feels despair because they know that the Bride Archetype wants to move toward greater moral coherence, not moral stagnation. If she chooses the husband she wants, then the classic ending scene begins with the man she loves carrying on without her (though he hopes she will come to him). She appears upon the scene as a symbol that she has chosen him as her Groom. Her arrival is then capstoned with a kiss, indicating that the entire scene is a Wedding without a church or officiant.

The Bride represents an offering of everything we want in a relationship with another. This can appear to us as an ultimatum because the bounty she offers comes with a single caveat: you must be willing to treat her the way she asks to be treated. She wants to journey with you, to follow you to the ends of the Earth, but in return she insists that you are consistent with her. Only rarely will a woman marry a man who is still hung up on an ex, and even then it is usually desperate women who do so. If he is hung up on his ex, then he cannot be consistent with his wife because he will still waffle about whether he wants the wife or the ex. To the Bride, this waffling prevents any further progress in the relationship. She wants to open up to him and become the woman of his dreams, but that is impossible for her to do until he decides to dream only of her.

The Bride Archetype—toward which women are predisposed through their hormonal makeup—usually chooses her Groom before he is certain that he is ready to choose her. When a woman knows how she wants a man to treat her, the Mother Archetype begins to subside within her, giving way to the Bride. The Mother Archetype is limited: she can only describe to the Father the shape, direction, and aesthetic nuance of their relationship. The Mother gives her love to the relationship while simultaneously expressing its condition, but she has nothing to say about commitment until she begins to discover that there are certain kinds of Creatures or Stories that she prefers to participate in creating. When she discovers the kind of Story she wants to create with the Father, she becomes the Bride and she then waits for the Groom to give the final Proposal, echoing the action of the Suitor. The Bride waits for the Groom first and then the Groom waits for his Bride.

Archetype #7: The Groom

Marriage: The Bride and Groom Archetypes

The wedding proposal is perhaps the one time when the Groom gets the spotlight. Even in this scene between two men, you know which one is the Groom.

The Groom is a confident leader. He has within him the strong will of the Suitor and the authority of the Father. What distinguishes him from these two Archetypes, though, is that the Groom is in possession of a Story. The Groom is experienced in his relationships and knows what he wants. His many previous experiences afford him a Story for how relationships work, how his attitudes affect his relationships, and what is at stake. That is why the Bride takes the Groom’s name when they get married: the Story belongs to him, but her decision to participate in that Story is what transforms it from a fantasy to a reality.

The Groom is committed. As a mental Archetype, his domain is not action, but perspective. Having been through enough iterations of relationship dynamics, his mind has become solid and unmoving in its attitudes. He knows when he is in danger of straying from his Story, so he guards his perspective carefully. He will not enter into a relationship with another unless he does so in with a clear conscience. His commitment to moral rectitude makes him a strong leader. The Groom is the ideological rock upon which a stable mental experience can rest.

Wherever the Groom instantiates, there lies resoluteness and clarity. As The Bible has it, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me,” (1 Cor, 13:11). Typically, when we talk about what it means to “be a man” in the most noble sense of the phrase, we are describing the Groom Archetype. It is the Groom who has experienced enough to know that he no longer wants to dabble as a Suitor or stagnate as a Father. The Groom is ready to take up his responsibilities and carry them forth into the world, stepping forward with conviction and certitude that the direction in which he is moving is the one he wants, and that there is absolutely no inner resistance to it. Unlike the Suitor who is easily distracted, the Groom is impossible to derail.

The great power of the Groom is that it takes effort and discipline to commit to a specific Story. The Groom will be tested over and over again as a means of tempering his commitment—tests which he did not invite but simply find him along the way. A man who has committed to a long term relationship with another may have noticed that women are more attracted to him and more persistent than when he was single. “When it rains, it pours,” they say. Some of these women are attracted to his resoluteness as hopeful Brides, while others are attracted as opportunities for temptation or testing—thus the allure of the unavailable.

We all know by now that dabbling has severe limitations. I dabble at different musical instruments sometimes (banjo, harmonica, penny whistle, didgeridoo), but in order to really explore the deep beauty of an instrument, commitment becomes necessary. I have to admit to myself, “Okay, I’m primarily a singer.” While my attitude toward banjo and penny whistle may not be abusive, I still do not (yet) see in them the great potential of a profoundly satisfying relationship. I have not committed to them. I have, however, committed to my singing voice. It is the instrument I turn to most, and it is the one I love above all others. My commitment to my singing voice is not in itself a room in which there can be only me and my voice; rather, it is an attitude that I maintain about singing that I do not yet have about other instruments (except possibly guitar). Maintaining this attitude demands that I spend time getting to know my voice, falling in love with it, accepting it as it is, and trusting that we will grow together as I continue onward in my commitment to seeing it as a source of exquisite beauty and value. The Groom, then, doesn’t have time to dabble. He’s done it enough and knows what the experience gets him. The Groom means business.

The Interpersonal Bride

Interpersonally, we begin to instantiate and constellate the Bride Archetype when we get tired of the same old cycles in a relationship with another. Two persons who enter into a romantic union do so under the influence of the first four Archetypes: Suitor, Débutante, Mother, Father. Although all Archetypes are dynamic, there is something static about all four of these Archetypes: they operate on the premise that you are who you are and all that remains is to uncover it. Hence, the Suitor wants to know the mysteries of the Débutante, the Débutante wants to be appreciated by a Suitor, etc. Nowhere in this narrative do we find the possibility that the Mother could become someone different altogether, that the attitudes Mother and Father take toward each other do not have to be as they are.

My first girlfriend and I broke up because I was growing increasingly possessive and jealous, while simultaneously becoming dependent. My attitude toward her eventually became something she couldn’t tolerate in a relationship, so she put an end to it. Although both of us knew that I could have treated her differently, what we did not know at the time was that the only way I could learn to treat her differently was for her to break up with me. This is a clear characterization of the Interpersonal Bride. The Bride is firm and unbending about how she is to be treated, and if you are unable or unwilling to treat her as she prefers, then she will either disappear from your life (if she is a Virgin) or screw you over (if she is a Prostitute). I don’t think that I knew back then that if I had taken the time to learn the lesson (i.e. that clinging to her jealously would not secure the relationship), she would have gladly taken me back and our relationship would have been better than ever. Instead, I felt guilty and embarrassed.

We usually think of the Bride only in the context of marriage. The Bride, however, is equally important to divorce or separation. She is the one who decides that it is time for something to change. She is the one who is tired of the same repeating cycles, who refuses to continue on that way. In the moment when she makes up her mind once and for all that she will no longer lower her standards and that she is to be treated as a queen or else there will be no relationship at all, she is ready to marry—even if she has not yet met her Groom.

The Interpersonal Bride, like any Archetype, can manifest in many ways. She can appear in any quarrel between lovers. The difference between the Bride and the Mother is that the Bride communicates the direction she is moving, the moral purity that will be necessary for her Groom to manifest in order to meet her there. The Mother responds to a quarrel by mirroring to the Father the cause of the quarrel (which is why women are usually right in lovers’ quarrels), and it is his responsibility to accept her expression. If, however, the cause of the quarrel is “You don’t appreciate me,” ‘You take me for granted,” “You use me for your own gain,” and “I want to be appreciated, cherished, and loved in my own right,” the Mother will gradually become the Bride, offering the Father and opportunity to gradually become Groom. If the Father is willing to accept that the cause of the quarrel is his inability to treat her in a morally coherent way, but unwilling to step into moral coherence, the relationship will ultimately end.

The Social Bride
Marriage: The Bride and the Groom Archetypes

The ship’s crew: Social Bride to their captain.

In the realm of Mind, the Unconscious Self is always receptive to the desires and intentions of the Conscious Self. Even the Mother, whose primary role is to express herself authentically, is still highly sensitive to the Father’s judgments about the quality and nature of her expression. She wants to be seen as significant and meaningful, beautiful and valuable. The Bride Archetype crystallizes the receptivity of the Unconscious Mind into an on/off switch that responds to the Conscious Mind’s attitude toward it. If the Groom approaches her properly, she will turn on, bestowing her riches upon him. If he does not approach her properly, she will turn to an ice queen, making him wonder why he even bothered.

This dynamic of the Bride Archetype is clear on the social level. Socially, the Bride is an organization or group that is in need of leadership. The term “leadership” has recently acquired buzzword status, which is not easy to talk around, but it still points to the right concept. A leader moves his group in the direction he envisions through the culture that he fosters around himself. An effective and functional organization usually has a strong leader who supports and encourages a rich group culture. Rich group culture in an organization, however, takes primarily one of two forms. These two forms are known in management circles as Theory X and Theory Y.

In Theory X, the manager assumes that his employees are lazy and irresponsible. As such, the tools he has on hand are the carrot and the stick. The only way he can relieve himself from having to watch his employees like a hawk is to cultivate in them a deep fear (usually of losing their jobs) and a sense of mutual benefit (through rewards). This management style is notoriously effective—for certain people. Archetypally, Theory X is a Story in which employees in the organization are the Bride. Those who refuse to let themselves be treated as Prostitutes will reject the management style and either leave or be fired. Like all self-fulfilling prophesies, Theory X reinforces itself by attracting persons who are, in fact, lazy and irresponsible, and who are happy to rip off the organization if the opportunity should present itself.

Theory Y, by contrast, asserts that employees are ambitious and self-motivated, and that they the love to do their jobs. The manager’s role in Theory Y is to support the existing constructive desires of his employees and to keep them in harmony with each other and with the organization as a whole. Those who would feel oppressed and devalued in Theory X would flourish and shine in Theory Y. Whereas those who would excel in Theory X would be seen as a “poor fit” in Theory Y.

The Social Bride is the team or crew that becomes what the leader perceives them to be. If the two are well-suited to each other, the culture that binds the leader to his crew will strengthen and deepen. If fear and reward is the method, then the organization will become more and more cut-throat (as it is in the financial and political sectors); conversely, if support and encouragement is the method, then the organization will become more and more motivated (as in Google, IBM, and other Silicon Valley organizations).

The Inner Bride
Marriage: the Bride and Groom Archetypes

The Unconscious Mind resolves into two polarized options between which the Conscious Mind must choose or else sacrifice his forward progress. Should he choose the Prostitute, his suspicion and foresight become the arrow the clears his path. Should he choose the Virgin, love is his only protection.

In all cases with gendered Archetypes, the Conscious Self is the actor and the Unconscious Self is the acted upon. Thus, when we say “I,” we mean the Conscious Self and when we say “me” or “myself,” we mean the Unconscious Self—even if we don’t know we mean these things. All of the first seven Archetypes (plus the unifying Archetype, the Child, which intersects with all other Archetypes) describe the domain of Mind.

Within the domain of Mind, all change occurs in the Conscious (or masculine) Self. The Unconscious Mind is full of possibility, capable of becoming anything at any moment, so long as the Conscious Mind can manifest the discipline and desire to tap into it. Hence, with the right inner tools, we can come to know anything and draw to ourselves any kind of experience we desire to have. The Unconscious Mind is always in motion, which is why our thoughts and emotions remain in flux, but it is also complete and has no need to be changed. The completeness of the Unconscious Mind is why women tend to resent a man’s attempts to “fix” her. She is perfect as she is and wants him see that. The Conscious Mind, by contrast, is the vanishingly small moment we call “now” in which we may be aware of but one thought or experience at a time. What we develop and improve within the domain of Mind is our ability to consciously locate and tap the resources available to us at all times through the Unconscious Mind. A man, inclined toward masculine Archetypes by his hormonal physiology, will tend to view mental experiences in terms of “fixing” them because he is aware of the incompleteness of his Conscious Mind, but perceives the perfection of his Unconscious Mind only dimly. Conversely, a woman, equally inclined toward feminine Archetypes in her own right, will tend to view mental experiences as perfect and worthy of appreciation because she is present to the fullness of her Unconscious, but her Conscious Mind’s need for growth and expansion will often take a back seat to the Unconscious experience.

The Inner Bride, then, is the Unconscious Mind clearly perceived. The choice that the Bride makes about how she will be treated is a function of the Groom’s process of discovering and making use of resources within her. As the Unconscious Mind progressively reveals itself to the Conscious Mind in response to the Ego’s Will, the novelty will eventually wear off, the experiences will be easy to grasp, and the relationship will become predictable. At this point, Conscious and Unconscious become frustrated with each other, and the Unconscious Mind becomes bitter and resistant to your approaches unless you do something differently.

Suppose, for example, that in the early days of your career, you were easily motivated by promotions and bonuses. Quality work emerged from you readily and your superiors were consistently impressed, so they rewarded you. Both you and your superiors expect that you’ll continue to produce such quality as long as you are given reward-type incentives. At some point, though, the rewards are less and less satisfying. You discover that while they once gave you a sense of accomplishment and status, they now leave you bored and unappreciative. The quality of your work then begins to dive because your motivation is drooping. Your superiors notice the change and, after trying many different ways of motivating you with rewards, they resort to punishments. You begin to buy into the Story that you are less valuable now than you were, but you don’t really know why. Something changed in you and you just can’t find the creativity and interest you used to have.

In this example, you and your superiors act as Conscious Mind toward the resources you have to offer, whose source is the Unconscious Mind. In the early days of the working relationship, the Unconscious Mind was happy to be showered with rewards that indicated status and appreciation. As time progressed, however, your Unconscious Mind began to sense that it wasn’t the full package that you and your superiors were appreciating. This part of you learned that while certain forms of expression were acceptable and desired, only those expressions that are productive and benefit the company will be rewarded. The Unconscious Mind begins to realize that it is not appreciated as a unique persona, but only as a producer of a certain kind of stuff (TPS reports, for example). No matter how you reward it, the Unconscious Mind feels unappreciated and confined. Your Conscious Mind begins to despair because you thought that all you needed to do was carry on as before, but it just doesn’t work anymore. Even worse, now you and your superiors shower insults at your Unconscious Mind, who feels more alienated than ever. You are spiralling downward and you’re in danger of being fired.

The example illustrates how the Conscious Mind exhausts a certain kind of resource from the Unconscious Mind. Whatever resource your job was to produce has become tainted and burdened with the weight of an unhealthy relationship between Conscious and Unconscious Mind. No longer do you happily manage your team or write reports or invent marketing schemes because the creative part of you has discovered that these things were all you wanted. The Unconscious Mind has had enough and it is time to either take a different approach or move on. As always, there are only two ways to move forward: acceptance or repression. This choice, however, is not in the hands of the Unconscious Mind. She can only indicate that she will not stick around if you are going to tell her you love her but restrict her expression.

The reason that the groom in a wedding is not supposed to see the bride in her gown prior to the ceremony is that only in wedlock can the Groom see his Bride in all her glory and splendor. Within our Unconscious Minds there are wondrous and amazing aspects of self, but we can’t see them until we decide to see ourselves as beautiful, as virtuous. I once tutored a high school student who was confident in his math skills, but didn’t consider himself a very talented writer. I told him that the way to become a good writer is to believe that he already is a good writer and to trust that what comes out of him when he sits down to write will be beautiful. This attitude gives the Unconscious Mind freedom to express itself without judgment, and to be rewarded with your genuine appreciation.

We all know that if you do not believe in yourself, you will never reach your potential. It doesn’t matter what arena of achievement you have in mind, the principle holds invariably. As long as you see yourself as a crappy writer, an awkward dancer, an insatiable womanizer, a weak leader, or whatever other derogatory attitude you want to take toward yourself, you will never rise above the degradation within which you have willingly enclosed your Unconscious Mind. You will have trapped her into a very limiting role within your Story, and because the Conscious Mind is the actor, she will remain bound to that role until you decide you are ready to see yourself as more capable, more virtuous.

The Inner Bride is the Unconscious Mind you discover when you do finally open yourself to the possibility that you have value, that you are worthy. In the moment when you choose to see yourself as worthy, your Conscious Mind awakens to new horizons of experience because suddenly the Unconscious Mind appears to you as exciting, beautiful, desirable. The Inner Bride, however, is not merely a metaphysical resource that only exists within you. Well it is, but not the way you might think. The Bride is more than the just your own inner potential to exhibit virtue; the Bride is the potential that everything in the world, tree or rock, man or beast, has to exhibit virtue. When you open yourself to seeing value in yourself, you also open yourself to seeing value in others. The more you awaken to your own worth, the more you will discover the endless beauty and exquisite wonders that the trees in your yard, the cat in your house, the sky above you, and the neighbors around you offer. The Inner Bride is the “world” we refer to when we say, “The world is your oyster.”

Few there are who clearly perceive that their attitudes about themselves and their attitudes about others are directly related. This lack of clarity comes, of course, from the possibility of Evil as a viable moral option. When we choose Evil, we are choosing to see our Conscious Selves as the source of all virtue and our Unconscious Selves as servant to that source of virtue. As such, we are easily tempted into perceiving others as lacking virtue while exalting ourselves. This attitude never achieves moral coherence, however, unless we are willing to observe the ways in which the weaknesses and vices we see in others are reflected in ourselves. Regardless of your moral choice, you must still be honest with yourself. Once the similarity is noticed, the weakness within the Self must be excised or beaten into submission, thereby exalting the Conscious Mind only, while oppressing the Unconscious Mind. In a state of moral incoherence, however, we allow ourselves the convenience of seeing the vices and weaknesses of others without admitting that we have the same within ourselves (for how would we see it if we did not recognize it as something within us?). In exchange for this illusion of elitism, we sacrifice our ability to grow and develop, for it is not the Unconscious Mind that develops, but the Conscious.

The talent of the Bride is her splendor. When approached coherently she is capable of incredible feats, for either Good or Evil. She can become the most desirable thing in the world and she can also become the most horrifying. The Bride identifies within us the great heights and depths of thought, emotion, creativity, and imagination—the clearly perceived Unconscious Mind is the origin of all genius. Eminent thinkers and creatives consistently report that they did not do any mental work to arrive at their greatest insights; rather, these things simply came to them in a “happy thought,” as Einstein once described it. These inner potentials are always available to us if only we learn to approach the Bride the right way. By contrast, the skill of the Bride is her responsiveness. Each of us, when instantiating the Bride to another or to ourselves, can learn to become more and more responsive to the Groom when he appears with requisite resoluteness. It is not the Bride herself that learns the skill of responsiveness, but we ourselves who learn to master the ability to tap into the Bride’s clear and immediate sense of whether the waiting Groom has earned her. The Unconscious Mind becomes progressively more sensitive to the red flags that indicate an unworthy Groom; simultaneously, it becomes progressively more willing to give itself to a Groom who has no red flags.

The Interpersonal Groom

A groom (in the literal sense) is typically expected to have his shit together. The picture of a groom worthy of his bride is a man who has sorted through his demons, knows who he is, and has achieved some measure of success in the real world. In this stereotype picture, the concept of the groom oversteps the bounds of the Archetype itself. Archetypally, a Groom is ready to marry once he knows himself well enough to be (a) certain of what he wants and (b) willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to get it. He may have some demons and be unaccomplished, but still instantiate an Archetypal Groom. Interpersonally, then, it is not unreasonable to think that a man can be ready to marry in his twenties (although I, who married at twenty, was not).

The marriage proposal and engagement ring are important parts of the wedding process, not merely disposable and meaningless rituals (thought we have forgotten their meaning). The Groom Archetype gradually activates within us as we discover in the midst of our romantic relationships that we are ready for something committed, something focused and serious, deep and moving. Whereas the Suitor needs to muster some courage to ask a girl out, the Groom must collect substantial resources and sacrifice them to his Bride in order to demonstrate that he is serious. Only the sacrifice can show a potential Bride that the Groom is ready to wed. Women who are disgusted or who sneer at the prospect of being asked to marry without an engagement ring are not necessarily materialistic. They may also be picking up on the Groom’s unwillingness to invest, thus the absence of a ring becomes a red flag for the future. At the same time, an engagement ring is not necessarily the only or even the ideal symbol of commitment.

A Groom must know what he wants from the relationship; he must be able to say who the Bride will be to him, how he feels about her, and what kind of experience he wants with her. When the Father discovers that emotional baggage is beginning to grow in his relationship with the Mother, he realizes that something is going to have to give. If he decides that what must change is his attitudes about who and what his significant other must be, then he has begun to instantiate the Groom rather than the Father.

Central to the Interpersonal Groom is the dichotomy between Prostitute and Virgin. No one can become a Groom who has not experienced both Prostitute and Virgin. The whole point of “playing the field” when you are young is to give yourself a robust array of experiences concerning romantic relationships, ranging the gamut from the Virginal to the Prostituted. From serial monogamy to casual sex, from puppy love to soul mates, these experiences are all necessary so that we can discover where the true gem is. Often we must endure painful and frustrating relationships that seemed to have so many things right but were still a far cry from what we had in mind before we have conviction enough to raise our standards and refuse to lower them. A man who instantiates Groom would never constellate Bride upon a woman who does not respect herself enough to be highly selective about her partners. That’s why women are slut-shamed and men are not. We conflate men with masculine Archetypes, so we tend to be more understanding about their need for experiencing the Bride in many different ways so that he can learn to choose between Virgin and Prostitute. Women, whom we conflate with feminine Archetypes, are not afforded the same luxury but are rather cast into one of two categories: Virgin or Prostitute. All of this, of course, suggests a lack of clarity about the Architecture of the Human Experience.

The Social Groom
Marriage: the Bride and the Groom Artchetypes

Daenerys Targaryen, a fine example of a social Groom.

The differences between Father, Storyteller, and Groom are easiest to see on the social level. If the Father is a ruler and the Storyteller is a religious leader, then the Groom is a military leader or an exploratory commander. The Groom Archetype is not itself a souped up version of the Father Archetype, though he is in some respects, a dynamic version of the Storyteller.

The Social Father is the Archetype that is best suited to an existing domain that is not expanding. In an interpersonal relationship, for example, the Father is adept at managing the occasional turbulence that arises when he and the Mother are not in perfect unison. Extending this to the social level, a ruler or law-maker knows his country well; he knows their needs, their tendencies, what upsets them and what pleases them. With this knowledge, he is careful to help his country blossom into an association of persons who are all on the same page, who understand each other and share a culture to which they all contribute.

Whereas the Social Father is well suited to internal policy, the Social Groom is suited to foreign policy. He is an explorer by nature, but he is not a wanderer. The Social Father is a Commander or a Leader. He knows his Crew and he knows the territory that they are exploring. He is on a mission and so he relies on his Crew to attend to the details of the mission so that he can attend to the bigger picture. As a Leader, the Social Groom’s responsibility is to carry the culture of the Crew with him wherever he goes, acting as the stable source from which the group Story emanates.

In a managerial role, the Social Groom must adopt a specific management style and stick to it. The consistency with which he maintains his management style is directly proportional to his ability to instantiate the Groom. That is, the Groom commits to an attitude and not to a specific individual or group. The attitude is what governs his approach his Bride. A manager who chooses the Theory Y management style must commit to the attitude that his employees are resourceful, creative, and eager. He must be mindful to trust that they will do their jobs more effectively without his micromanagement than with. He learns to see each of them as a contributor with a unique skill-set whose value is boundless. If he switches to Theory X by secretly monitoring them or by resorting to carrot/stick motivation, he will have betrayed his Story, thereby alienating his Bride. Only through commitment to one morally coherent Story over the other (there are ultimately only two morally coherent Stories, which we commonly call Good and Evil) will the Groom win his brides loyalty and affection.

The Groom’s use of a Story hearkens back to the Storyteller, but it serves a different purpose from that of the Storyteller. Whereas the Storyteller is looking to give a comprehensive picture of reality through zher Story, the Groom intends to use the Story as a vehicle to advance the relationship between himself and his Bride, i.e. his people. Both the Storyteller and the Groom are aware that all Stories are at best noble lies. Human life is dynamic, so the Stories we tell must be able to accommodate the surprising twists and turns. The Storyteller watches it all happen, but doesn’t go anywhere: zhe is always at the center of the Story which moves around zher. The Groom, however, enters his Story as a vessel, sailing upon the waters of the Great Unknown with little more than the conviction that embarking on the quest is the one thing that will bring him and his people closer to each other.

A strong and capable Social Groom is not necessarily a good Social Father. Daenerys Targaryen, in Game of Thrones, claims to be heir to the Iron Throne. In the earlier seasons, she established herself as a very strong leader and liberator, who simultaneously conquered territory and earned the love of the people she freed from slavery. In this role, she made herself Groom to the people, who, as Bride, learned to trust her. However, in later seasons she decided to stop and rule her kingdom before engaging any further in conquest. Whereas she slid easily and readily into her role as Groom, slowing down to be Father to her peoples proved much more challenging to her, as she has frequently become rigid and unyielding, despite her loving intentions. In this same sense, Napoleon Bonaparte was a strong Groom but a somewhat weaker Father. These visionary leaders may have been better served by delegating ruling duties to those who are better suited to managing a domain rather than expanding it.

The Inner Groom
Marriage: The Bride and Groom Archetypes

The Conscious Mind is drawn forward in his experience by the Story he constructs himself. Both positive and negative experiences (the sphynxes) serve his ends, and in the process, the veil (above) between Conscious and Unconscious Mind is progressively lifted.

The Inner Groom is the conscious self that acts with confidence and conviction. Where the Suitor, or the Ego-Will, is the source of intense desire and attraction; and the Father, or the Super-Ego, is the self that observes all the information, deliberating over it and analyzing it; the Inner Groom, for which I know of no adequate psychological name, is the conscious self that perceives its task to be complete. The Inner Groom, or the Confident Ego (if you will) is in possession of a Story, which is the vehicle with which he may explore his unconscious, whether mirrored by the other human beings living and moving in the world around him, or simply perceived within himself. This Story is the interface or vehicle through which the Conscious Self may come to know the Unconscious Self, a vehicle provided to the Conscious Self by the Storyteller, whose act of synthesis unites the two.

In moments when we are confident, convinced, and unwavering, each of us is acting on the assumption that our Story of the world is accurate, coherent, and efficient: that is, we believe in the Story like a captain trusts in his ship. When I was a child, the prevailing Story (the grand Story in which all others were nested) was the Christian Story, in its Catholic incarnation. To be sure, each of us has a unique perspective, so there is a Christian Story for each person who imagines it. Hence, my version of the Christian Story was probably very different from my mother’s and both of us had a different Story from my father. My version of the Christian Story was the ultimate lens through which I viewed my experiences as a whole, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. In my youthful ignorance, I assumed that this Story was the most seaworthy one available, so I acted with false security in the Story—like an inexperienced captain who doesn’t know what to look for in a vessel and so ends up with a dysfunctional ship (often with important parts broken that the captain did not know were either broken or important) or a ship that is not suited to his particular purposes. In my false security, I acted with conviction, seeking new experiences from the world and others by taking my place within this Story (at the helm, of course) and guiding it to where my Ego-Will longed to go, then making sense of the experiences through my Super-Ego’s resources.

My Christian Story broken down frequently, of course. If it hadn’t I’d still be Christian, like my mother and father are. Their Christian Stories clearly served their purposes far more effectively than mine. After puberty, my sexual curiosity did not appear to match the modes of experience that were considered acceptable. Practically speaking, my Ego-Will, which acts as the ship’s motor, was pushing me in a direction that the Super-Ego, which acts as the ship’s guidance system, was declaring forbidden. According to my Story, the ocean was the problem. The ocean (my unconscious self) was pulling the ship into its forbidden regions like a whirlpool, and my motor was not strong enough to resist its pull. In my Story, the guidance system, or the Super-Ego, was infallible. I did not allow myself to see my experience differently, to change the rules about which experiences were acceptable and which were not. Had I adopted a different Story, I could have seen the pull of sexual curiosity as a bountiful wind and a supportive current that was encouraging my vessel to move exactly where it needed to go.

The Confident Ego knows that only certain kinds of Stories are sea-worthy. Although the Confident Ego may not know that he had a choice, he has definitely chosen. There are, indeed, only two kinds of confidence: the firm but gentle confidence of a captain who explores with love and tenderness (like Jean-Luc Picard or the Doctor), or the unstoppable brazenness of a captain who sees conquest as his natural right (like Cortez or the Daleks). Our Stories tell of these two kinds of captains because they are possessed of Stories that can guide them safely through their experiences. If we are going to approach our experiences with tenderness, we must commit to that tenderness. We must give ourselves over to absolute trust in the abundance and affection of the ocean (or space and time, in the case of our cultural science fiction tales). If at any moment we give in to the temptation to see the world as something to possess or conquer or objectify, the world will respond with an equal measure of distrust. The deep strength of Picard and the Doctor is their trust in the good intentions of those around them. Picard navigates the galaxy with the Prime Directive as a central guiding principle: preserve the free will of others at all costs. Similarly, the Doctor has boundless faith in the human race, despite all their many flaws. The whole Galaxy (as well as his crew) is Bride to Picard, while the human race (symbolically represented by his Companion) is Bride to the Doctor.

Popular conversation about convictions suggests that the word “faith” indicates a specific kind of belief. This is an unfortunate misconception, but it strikes very close to the mark—which is why the misconception exists in the first place. The Confident Ego has confidence that his Story is sure and sound. While there will always be a mythic element to the Stories we adopt, the trust that the Confident Ego has is not to be placed in the mythic. Any believer who finds within herself a deep and powerful conviction, will discover (given a mindful attitude) that her trust is not in the Story itself (e.g. the Story that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior), but in the kind of Story that it is (i.e. a Story in which we approach the world with acceptance, gentleness, forgiveness, and care). The mythic elements of a Story give our rational minds substance to hold onto in order that we can trust in the moral character of the Story. It is much easier to be kind and accepting of others with a mythos that supports the belief. In Christianity, the grace that comes from accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (which is the grace of faith) soothes the cynical mind and opens the loving heart. A Christian has faith that the mythic element of the Story is a vehicle toward trust in the Story’s moral character. Faith does fill the void of ignorance, but belief alone is a poor substitute where faith is lacking. What most religious adherents fail to appreciate is that faith and moral coherence are the active ingredients, while the specific mythos is only a medium for carrying these ingredients. Consistent failure to make this subtle distinction lies at the heart of the adversarial relationship between theists and atheists.

Those who lack confidence also lack conviction in a prevailing attitude about their experiences. On one hand, they are unwilling to let go of their attempts to control their experiences, while on the other hand they are also unwilling to let go of their desire to love and trust others. Thus we find the well-meaning cynic who believes that the world is out to get him but still hopes for someone to come along who accepts and loves him unconditionally. Such a cynic is unable to trust in his ability to control others because of his desire to be loved unconditionally; he is also unable to trust in the intentions of others because he always tries to control them. The incoherence of this cynic’s Story is precisely why he lacks confidence. His desires, emotions, and beliefs are hopelessly out of sync, but he refuses to admit this incongruency to himself because it would mean that he’d have to abandon his Story. He has invested too much into his cynical Story to let go of it. The cynic’s Story is a ship whose sea-worthiness does not reflect the inner resources the cynic has dumped into it. It is a lemon.

There are those who have adopted a Christian Story who do instantiate the Confident Ego. Many of these persons attribute their successes to the veracity of the Christian Myth. The Myth, of course, is only a vehicle for the deeper philosophy—of which there are ultimately only two that are coherent (Good and Evil). “Because we trusted in the Christian Myth,” they sometimes say, “we have been abundantly rewarded, for we find around every corner a world that loves and embraces us. Surely this is a gift from God to the faithful.” Archetypally speaking, however, reward for the Confident Ego’s trust is the natural order. If wherever we go we seek to cultivate love, respect, and tenderness, we will find far more friends than enemies. If, however, we seek to conquer and possess, we will find enemies abundant. The specific myth in which the moral philosophy is embedded is not important, though evangelistic religions like Christianity and Islam would say otherwise. What ultimately matters is coherence in your attitude toward your Unconscious Self and toward the world around you which reflects your Unconscious Self back to you. When we find moral coherence, we may stand at the helm of our vessels, confidently exploring the world around and within us, undaunted by the boundless mystery that lies ahead, and optimistic that our experiences will only further confirm the moral choice we have made.

The Virtuous Bride and Groom

If you have read Chapter 3, “The Crisis of Direction,” then you are already familiar with my usage of the terms “virtue,” “vice,” “good,” “evil,” “right,” and “wrong.” If you have not read this, then I’ll very briefly recap: Right and wrong depend entirely on subjective desire (or will or inclination, whichever word you prefer). Good and Evil are the two internally coherent moral directions, characterized by how you treat both yourself and others. If you view yourself and others as having value, autonomy, and beauty just by virtue of existing, then you align with moral Good. If you view yourself and others as objects to be subjected to your ideas, ideals and attitudes, then you align with moral Evil. Neither direction is inherently “right,” because we must each choose which of these morally coherent directions matches the inner inclination. Virtue and vice name the functionality or dysfunctionality of the Self in response to the presence or absence of moral coherence. Hence, to be virtuous is to choose either Good or Evil to the exclusion of the other; whereas, to be vicious is to fail to choose. Virtue and vice are not an on-off switch because the purity of our choice of moral direction is a sliding scale. Although we do tend to choose in an absolute sense (we unequivocally prefer one to the other), we have difficulty committing to this choice to the exclusion of the other. I assume that everyone reading this article has chosen Good (because those are the sort I attract), but there are still parts of us that incline towards Evil. Those of us who love and respect others but sometimes try to control them are morally Good, but lack some purity. The Virtuous Archetypes show us what it looks like to choose a moral alignment purely, without inclusion of the elements of the opposite moral alignment.

The Good Bride
Marriage: The Bride and the Groom Archetypes

Galadriel is a good example of the Eternal Virgin, especially in her relationship to Gimli. Note that she is married and probably has sex with her husband.

In a state of positive moral coherence, the Bride is an Eternal Virgin. If there were some other way to describe this state of affairs, I assure you I’d use it, but “virgin” is the only appropriate word. The Bride has within herself the famous Archetypal Virgin/Whore dichotomy—one which despite its fame does not yet seem to have been comfortably situated within a psychology. (Hopefully I can remedy this omission.) In any case, let me just get this out of the way: the Eternal Virgin Archetype can be embodied by a woman (or man) who has had sex before. The Archetype is not strictly linked to physical virginity.

If abstinence from sex is not virginity, then what is virginity? Some think of it as a kind of naivety, ala Snow White. This picture of the Eternal Virgin casts her as simultaneously innocent but ignorant, sincere but dull. She has no impure thoughts because she doesn’t allow herself to have them. The slut-shaming that is still common throughout the world looks to emphasize this distorted picture of the Eternal Virgin. All acts of stereotyping are actually a reduction of living human beings to Archetypal roles, however distorted those roles may be. When we slut-shame women, we are asserting that they may only instantiate the Eternal Virgin, and that they are not allowed to instantiate the Prostitute (or some imbalanced blend of the two). In response to these social pressures, a woman will commonly attempt to fit the Eternal Virgin mold, but in doing so, she awakens the inner Outcast (who breaks all rules), and must constantly be on her guard to keep the inner Prostitute at bay. This is not virginity.

Despite the sexual hangups virtually all human beings seem to have, there is no maximum lover-count for the Eternal Virgin. The Archetype can awaken at any time in anyone, given the proper circumstances. At heart, the Eternal Virgin has what we call “self-respect.” When we say that women have self-respect, we usually mean it in a different way from when we say it about men. In women, it tends to mean that she demands to be treated as if she has infinite value. The Eternal Virgin cannot bring out the value in herself without a Groom (who would she give herself to?), as it is his role to make decisions, to choose the direction that the relationship will move. Although she depends upon the Groom to express her value, she does not depend upon him for her self-respect. In fact, she will never find a Groom who finds infinite value in her unless she already has self-respect.

The Eternal Virgin will not allow herself to be taken advantage of, used, denigrated, or cast aside. As a feminine Archetype, her strength is a kind of passivity; for her, the appropriate response to a Groom who does not treat her as she feels she deserves is to walk away. He will discover on his own why she left, what he did wrong, and how to make it right. Her willingness to walk away distinguishes the Eternal Virgin from the Hopeless Romantic (unbalanced positive), but is easy to confuse with the Runaway Bride (unbalanced negative). Whereas the Runaway Bride leaves because she does not feel worthy of a Groom who treats her well, the Eternal Virgin only leaves when a Groom does not treat her as she feels worthy of being treated.

Just as the Eternal Virgin is prepared to walk away, so she is also prepared to offer herself for life without restraint, without boundary, without condition. She gives herself fully and completely, her love is total and her commitment is beyond question. A Groom who has won himself an Eternal Virgin does not feel jealous of other men, nor does he guard her as if she were his property. He sees her total loyalty and fidelity to him, and it never enters his mind that she would betray him—for she wouldn’t. As the Loving Mother is always right in conflicts with the Father about their relationship, so the Eternal Virgin knows her marriage better than her Groom does. She has the utmost security and confidence in the union and will happily devote herself to its flourishing in this security. She does not feel the need to be on guard for signs from the Groom that he is not treating her as she deserves. If it should happen, she will know immediately.

If the Social Groom is a ship’s Captain, then the Social Eternal Virgin is a Faithful Crew. As the Good captain is totally committed to the wellbeing of his crew, even to the point that he would sacrifice his own life to preserve a member of his crew, so the crew is devoted to their captain. The Eternal Virgin’s willingness to follow her Groom with faith and devotion often results in the attitude that leadership and decision-making are the provenance of men, while following and obedience are the provenance of women. Although this model is typical, it is by no means an absolute limitation upon the sexes. The Faithful Crew follow and obey their leader by choice, not by force. They have been around him long enough and know him well enough that they feel there is no one better suited for the job of leadership. Each member of the Faithful Crew would intentionally choose to defer leadership to the Captain because they would not be as confident that they could bring out the best in the crew the way he does. Hence, the Eternal Virgin steps where her Groom leads under no force, whether social or personal; rather, she follows because he is uniquely great at glorifying and beautifying her through his leadership. If the Eternal Virgin were to take the wheel from her Groom, she feels that their collective voyage might spiral into utter disaster.

The Inner Eternal Virgin is, of course, the Unconscious Mind glorified. It is the hidden self that instantly recognizes and refuses all attempts to be controlled or manipulated. The Inner Virgin has a voice and that voice is always heard by the Conscious Mind of a person who loves and respects himself. She speaks clearly and gently, her emotions are not torrential or vile; rather, they always emerge as the artwork of Self, the subtle poetic expression emerging from an endless wellspring of quality. The Inner Virgin will happily make love to the Conscious Mind, taking his lead, following gracefully and adoringly. A person who has awakened the Inner Virgin exudes a peace and security that no one could ever take away from him. No matter what circumstances befall him, he is always kind and hopeful because his Inner Virgin will always wrap her arms around him, whispering encouragement into his ear. The devotion of the Inner Virgin makes the Conscious Mind more intelligent, more creative, and more perceptive. As each member of the Faithful Crew does her job more effectively than the captain does, so the Virginal Unconscious Mind will take care of all the details for the Conscious Mind if he lets her. He can only focus upon one thing at a time, but she is capable of accounting for and processing the entire periphery, so that he can do what he does best: command the ship.

The relationship between the Inner Virgin and the Conscious Mind closely resembles the relationship between a “lead” and a “follow” in partner dancing (swing dancing is the style I’m familiar with). In this relationship, the lead (usually a man) is responsible for indicating to the follow (usually a woman) where she is to go and what she is to do. He doesn’t dictate her specific actions; rather, he simply applies pressure in a direction and she gracefully steps where he indicates. The relationship may sound authoritarian, but unless one leads and the other follows, the dance will be disjointed and graceless. The privilege of the lead is that he gets to decide what happens; whereas, the privilege of the follow is that she gets to be the center of attention. Due to the lead’s designated role he is nearly motionless while the follow spins, flourishes, and bounces around him. She does most of the work and his job is to guide her. This very same is true of the union between the Inner Virgin and the Conscious Mind.

The Evil Bride
Marriage: The Bride and Groom Archetypes

The whole of the sex industry acts as the Prostitute Archetype in our culture, though there are exceptions that prove the rule.

The Evil Bride is aggressive and insistent in her relationship with the Groom. She craves his abuse and relishes the way he demeans her. The thrilling sexuality of humiliation and abuse is a secret that only the impolite speak aloud, but the Harpy cannot help her indulgence. To say that she lacks self-respect is to misunderstand how she feels. Her sense of respect revolves entirely around her Groom. She will never respect him unless he can degrade her remorselessly while occupying a position of absolute authority himself. The Prostitute wants her Groom to be made of better stuff than she is and to demonstrate that asymmetry to her without faltering.

Those of us who prefer the positive moral path find ourselves scratching our heads about the motives of the negative, but the evidence is out there. When done right (i.e. with discipline), humiliation and abuse compound into a desirable experience for those who identify closely with the Bride Archetype. It is not by accident that in the BDSM world, some prefer to be dominant and some prefer to be submissive. Dominant types are acting out morally negative masculine Archetypes while submissive types are acting out the feminine.

The asymmetrical sexual relationship is not, of course, the only characteristic of the Prostitute—otherwise she would not be much different from the Manipulative—she, like any other Bride, is concerned with choosing and committing to a Groom. For the Prostitute, of course, this means she must choose a master to own her. She is looking for a Pimp. Often, in a domestic abuse case where the woman abuses the man, the Prostitute is the most prominent Archetype. This abusive girlfriend has become so familiar with the methods of the Manipulative that she is teetering on the brink of disgust with her boyfriend because he does not seem to be able to stand up to her. She has no respect for him whatsoever and it is only a matter of time before she seeks out a stronger and more respectable man. She seeks a master who can put her in her place. When the boyfriend finds out she has been cheating on him, his weak response only reinforces her disgust and she may either keep him as a servant (thus reversing the Archetypal roles) or abandon him altogether.

When she is in a relationship with someone upon whom she cannot constellate the Pimp, the morally negative Bride becomes the Harpy because she will steal the life-force from any man in her world who is not disciplined enough to stand up to her. She becomes the dominant force in his life and squashes out all his hopes and dreams. Until the Harpy meets her match, she appears as an uncontrollable sexual monster. An ex who could not live up to her expectations would be shocked to see how submissive she suddenly becomes when treated with unflinching discipline by a Pimp who will not give her a single inch of his ground.

The Prostitute is often instantiated by corporations in relation to their management teams. The degree to which a corporation instantiates the Prostitute naturally depends upon the culture within the organization, but management commonly discovers that the environment they entered into is perilous and abusive to those who cannot manifest within themselves the gusto to prove themselves the stronger. Washington DC is famous for this kind of cut-throat environment (sad though this fact is). In these cases, the institution itself takes the role of the Prostitute, while the ambitious manager or politician takes role of the Pimp.

The Prostitute does not want you to make love to her. She sees any such attempt as feeble, as a weakness to be exploited. They say that if you give a hooker the opportunity to run with your money before she sleeps with you, she will always take it. This may seems strange, especially since the rationale behind prostitution is often, “I like sex and I like money, so why not get both?” Nevertheless, the Prostitute always transforms her passion into a job. Because it becomes a means of resource acquisition for her, the act becomes tedious and unappealing, no matter how much she once enjoyed it. That is why they say “never make a living doing what you love.” The adage points to the ease with which we slip into the Prostitute Archetype by attempting to sell a creative inner resource. Thus, a baker who loves baking pies learns to hate pies when she opens up a pie shop; a writer who loves to write horror learns to hate writing when contracts dictate his muse; etc. The Prostitute will always choose to rip you off because she doesn’t want to give you what you are paying her for. Just so, the Inner Prostitute would rather not whittle yet another spoon or knit yet another hat, because the monetary value these products take on reduces the act from a sacred experience given freely to a chore.

The Good Groom
Marriage: The Bride and Groom Archetypes

Ryan Gosling appears to be today’s rendition of Prince Charming. I haven’t seen enough of his films to know why, though.

The hallmarks of positive morality (“Goodness”) are acceptance, compassion, and sincere concern for the other. I’ve called this version of the Groom “Prince Charming” because, though a little one-dimensional, the stock faerie tale character captures the unadulterated attitude of the Good as it manifests in the committed self. For Prince Charming, there is only one Bride. He knows that other women are beautiful and worthy of love, but they are not his Bride. The difference between his Bride and any other women is that the two have matching value-patterns, and so they are capable of living and moving together within the same Story.

Prince Charming makes no effort to force his Story upon his Bride, as he only wants for his Bride what she would choose for herself. He is transparent and sincere. He is vulnerable but strong in his bare vulnerability. The role he chooses for his Bride is to be the center of his affection, the ocean wherein his adventures lie, the queen he serves, and the partner who follows him. She will also be his compliment, for she has strengths where he has weaknesses. Although Prince Charming might not explicitly say all these things (though in the faerie tales he does), they are all implied by his every word and action. The sincerity of his devotion to her is precisely what makes him so charming—despite the cynical character study he was given in Into the Woods: “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.”

Interpersonally, Prince Charming is often instantiated by a man who has fallen in love. Although we tend to use the phrase “in love” to mean many different things, one of the more important is the attitudes that Bride and Groom have toward each other. Prince Charming sees in his Bride everything he wants, sees a limitless bounty and variety of experiences. He finds himself bursting with enthusiasm about all the adventures they will have together. His emotions are not as intense and pressing as those of the Suitor; rather, they are slow-burning: passionate, but enduring. Unless his Bride has not yet consented to marry him, Prince Charming’s emotional state is patient and unhurried, but fixed exclusively upon her. He wants to know everything about her, but he expects that it will take a long time—why else would he propose marriage?

Prince Charming also appears interpersonally when we meet others whom we want to be members of our family. A brother or sister consciously chosen has beaten out others who might occupy that position in our lives. We only have space in our world for so many relationships, and while “friends come and go,” some really do stick around for life, promoting from friend to family. The method according to which we choose and commit ourselves to these few very close friends is precisely that of Bride and Groom, though there is usually no sex involved.

Socially, Prince Charming is the Accidental Leader. He establishes himself as a Captain by sheer love of and dedication to his work. He attracts the attention of the organizations he works with, so much so that they begin to hope that he will decide he is fully dedicated and willing to step into the leadership role awaiting him. An Accidental Leader will often begin as a volunteer or a low-level employee (depending on the organization). He quickly earns attention not only through his competence, but through the generosity with which he shares his talents and the sincerity of his commitment to the organization as a whole. The Accidental Leader does not want to take over the organization; rather, he believes in it and wants to help it become even more than it is, to beautify its song and increase its exposure. Through this sincerity, the organization falls in love with him and chooses him as their leader.

On the inner level, Prince Charming is mental conviction at its most constructive. Instead of the dogmatic adherence that a Rigid Father or Dutiful Husband might have, the Inner Prince Charming affixes itself to a specific kind of Story, whose peripheral characteristics may change, but whose moral center is unshakable. On the inner level, we become a Groom when we take hold of a Story, mythic elements and all. Some of the most prominent examples in my experience are Christians and atheists. In both cases, conviction has resolved them in their selection of Story, but that conviction commonly extends well beyond the moral into the ontological (“Only the Christian God is real,” or “A non-physical reality is utterly implausible,”)

The hallmarks of positive morality (“Goodness”) are acceptance, compassion, and sincere concern for the other. I’ve called this version of the Groom “Prince Charming” because, though a little one-dimensional, the stock faerie tale character captures the unadulterated attitude of the Good as it manifests in the committed self. For Prince Charming, there is only one Bride. He knows that other women are beautiful and worthy of love, but they are not his Bride. The difference between his Bride and any other women is that the two have matching value-patterns, and so they are capable of living and moving together within the same Story.

Prince Charming makes no effort to force his Story upon his Bride, as he only wants for his Bride what she would choose for herself. He is transparent and sincere. He is vulnerable but strong in his bare vulnerability. The role he chooses for his Bride is to be the center of his affection, the ocean wherein his adventures lie, the queen he serves, and the partner who follows him. She will also be his compliment, for she has strengths where he has weaknesses. Although Prince Charming might not explicitly say all these things (though in the faerie tales he does), they are all implied by his every word and action. The sincerity of his devotion to her is precisely what makes him so charming—despite the cynical character study he was given in Into the Woods: “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.”

Interpersonally, Prince Charming is often instantiated by a man who has fallen in love. Although we tend to use the phrase “in love” to mean many different things, one of the more important is the attitudes that Bride and Groom have toward each other. Prince Charming sees in his Bride everything he wants, sees a limitless bounty and variety of experiences. He finds himself bursting with enthusiasm about all the adventures they will have together. His emotions are not as intense and pressing as those of the Suitor; rather, they are slow-burning: passionate, but enduring. Unless his Bride has not yet consented to marry him, Prince Charming’s emotional state is patient and unhurried, but fixed exclusively upon her. He wants to know everything about her, but he expects that it will take a long time—why else would he propose marriage?

Prince Charming also appears interpersonally when we meet others whom we want to be members of our family. A brother or sister consciously chosen has beaten out others who might occupy that position in our lives. We only have space in our world for so many relationships, and while “friends come and go,” some really do stick around for life, promoting from friend to family. The method according to which we choose and commit ourselves to these few very close friends is precisely that of Bride and Groom, though there is usually no sex involved.

Socially, Prince Charming is the Accidental Leader. He establishes himself as a Captain by sheer love of and dedication to his work. He attracts the attention of the organizations he works with, so much so that they begin to hope that he will decide he is fully dedicated and willing to step into the leadership role awaiting him. An Accidental Leader will often begin as a volunteer or a low-level employee (depending on the organization). He quickly earns attention not only through his competence, but through the generosity with which he shares his talents and the sincerity of his commitment to the organization as a whole. The Accidental Leader does not want to take over the organization; rather, he believes in it and wants to help it become even more than it is, to beautify its song and increase its exposure. Through this sincerity, the organization falls in love with him and chooses him as their leader.

On the inner level, Prince Charming is mental conviction at its most constructive. Instead of the dogmatic adherence that a Rigid Father or Dutiful Husband might have, the Inner Prince Charming affixes itself to a specific kind of Story, whose peripheral characteristics may change, but whose moral center is unshakable. On the inner level, we become a Groom when we take hold of a Story, mythic elements and all. Some of the most prominent examples in my experience are Christians and atheists. In both cases, conviction has resolved them in their selection of Story, but that conviction commonly extends well beyond the moral into the ontological (“only the Christian God is real,” or “a non-physical reality is utterly implausible.”). The over-extension of their commitments prevent dogmatic Christians and atheists alike from having a genuinely loving relationship between their conscious and unconscious minds. The Unconscious Mind is unpredictable, and, in her manifestation as the Virgin, resists all attempts to box her into a specific caste, where she is of a certain type (e.g. “Christian,” “dancer,” “sweet person,” “mother,” “money-maker,” etc.) and is not allowed to express herself otherwise. A dogmatic Groom stifles the free expression of its unconscious self, thereby preventing instantiation of the morally positive Groom within. The Inner Prince Charming, on the other hand, has only his loving and accepting attitude toward himself, an attitude he refuses to betray no matter what happens. “To thine own self be true,” is his motto, and his Inner Virgin rewards him boundlessly for it.

The Evil Groom
Marriage: the Bride and the Groom Archetypes

The Godfather is a classic example of a Pimp in his role as a mob boss.

Commitment and conviction are central to the Groom Archetype, regardless of moral orientation. The morally negative Groom is the Pimp. This characterization has become a bit watered down through its heavy usage in hip-hop culture, but it still hearkens back to the same fundamental trope. Through his investment in Prostitutes, the Pimp becomes possessed of riches beyond the ordinary person’s dreams (signified by all the bling). The Pimp’s commitment is entirely a matter of his perception that the Prostitutes are his property, and that they therefore are his to control and do with what he likes.

The Pimp must always combat his tendency to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs. His Prostitutes are the source of his riches, but they do not always produce the way he wants them to. Some of them age and become less appealing to their clientèle, while others become bitter or aggressive. The Pimp must maintain his position as the victor or the master, which means that he must sometimes make an example of one of his Prostitutes when she attempts to subvert him or eject him. His attitude must be callous and calculated, neither too heavy-handed and brutish, nor too yielding and soft.

The Pimp does not necessarily have to sell women. In fact, more often instances of the Pimp—especially social ones—are crime lords, who deal in all things contraband, not just prostitution. The hierarchical structure of gangs and crime syndicates typically manifests according to a specific kind of Story: Every member is the property of the syndicate, and the syndicate is the property of the top dog. The top dog has risen to the heights at which he resides through his disciplined attitude toward others. He does not allow himself weaknesses of any kind; rather, he is careful to reward others only insofar as they obey his command and serve his ends. Any specific member of his syndicate must be treated according to his rules, or else his nepotism becomes a weakness that can be exploited. Thus, crime lords must be perfectly ruthless.

The Social Pimp will take care of his own, give them enough leeway to become strong, disciplined and capable in their own rights, but he will not let them fully out of his view. He trusts them because they both benefit from him and fear him. Indeed, those are the very reasons they follow. Often crime lords will call their own “family,” indicating that there is a very distinct difference between being “in” and being “out.” Those who are out have no standing whatsoever to the members of the family and are therefore expendable. If one of these outlying expendables should harm or kill someone who is “in,” massive retribution is in order because an attack on the Pimp’s property is an attack on the Pimp. Inevitably a member of the family will begin to think himself strong enough to displace the top-dog. The top-dog’s watchful eye and loyal servants help to discourage this upstart tendency. The Social Pimp knows at all times that his best men would betray him if they thought they had a realistic shot at sitting in his throne.

The Pimp sees himself as the moral center of the universe. Although he knows that others have the same potential as he does to rise to power, he prizes his determination and discipline, the keys to his success, as unique to himself. In his own eyes, the Pimp deserves everything he has, and whatever else he can take is fair game. He has no conscience hang-ups about his self-service, which is precisely what frightens those beneath him.

Like the Godfather or Marcellus Wallace, the Pimp has an entire Story of the world whose clarity and coherence are undeniable. In the Pimp’s Story, anyone who does not look out for himself first is a chump and deserves what he has coming to him. In order to rise to power, one must be willing to do what no one else is: completely committed to the self without moral objection. The Pimp has intentionally extracted all of his own moral objections whether through disciplined will or intentional trauma. This Inner Pimp, or the Indomitable Conscious Mind, has become convinced that there is no virtue in putting others before the self. We instantiate this Archetype whenever our we consciously harden our hearts by doing what must be done to maintain hegemony, regardless of how much we love the people who will suffer as a result. The Inner movement toward the resoluteness and conviction of the Pimp is a kind of transformation, perhaps best described by the Stories about Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects. Söze was a drug lord who loved his wife and children. In the midst of a turf war, however, the opposition raped his wife and shot one of his children as a warning. In this moment, Keyser Söze discovers that he can no longer afford to have weaknesses, so he kills his wife remaining child. Then he proceeds to exact ruthless vengeance against his aggressors. Only in complete commitment to negative morality is Söze capable of committing such atrocities. His conviction wins him status as reward.

The Vicious Bride and Groom

An Archetype can become viciously distorted in two ways: over-expression or under-expression. Because virtue lies in the balance between these two polar opposite vices, I call over-expression “positive unbalance” and under-expression “negative unbalance.”

We become vicious when our moral attitudes are confused. Confusion most often takes the form of perceiving ourselves as Good but employing Evil methodology. Our moral attitudes become confused (a) in response to the confused environment into which we are born, and (b) as an expression of our inborn personality dynamics (which I have elsewhere called the “Daemon”). In short, we are confused beings entering a confused world, so we all end up vicious. This is a natural state of affairs, which is why the Zen Buddhists constantly remind us that nothing is wrong.

The Positive Unbalanced Bride

For the positive unbalanced Bride, marriage is the one and only source of meaning in her life. Every action, even down to the most minute of details, revolves around this one goal, without which such a Hopeless Romantic cannot be whole. Every man she meets is a potential husband, so long as he fits her short list of qualifications.

The Hopeless Romantic thinks of herself as an Eternal Virgin: she even thinks she is not easy to get into bed. Contrary to the fantasy role she imagines she plays, a woman who instantiates this unbalanced Archetype is actually easy to bed—so long as a man is willing to promise marriage (whether sincerely or not). On one hand, she is highly susceptible to the sweet lies a man might tell her, desperate to marry and so endlessly naïve in her willingness to embrace his Story. On the other hand, the Hopeless Romantic is as manipulative as the lying Grooms she attracts. She will twist her presentation to make herself seem like a more suitable wife, and she will even bid for power against other women to secure the affections of a Groom she thinks is husband material. She will happily feed propaganda to her prospective Groom about other women in her efforts to stand at the top of the pile, and she will lash out at him when he does not respond as she had intended.

The Hopeless Romantic’s naivety is nowhere more visible than in her willingness to accept abuse from her Groom for the sake of the marriage. If she weds, she will cling to her marriage as relentlessly as she would a child. If she doesn’t wed, she will give her Groom as much slack as it takes to keep him around. Her lack of self-respect fosters his dismissiveness of her and his objectification of her. As long as he is willing to play the marriage charade, she becomes a convenient resource for his satisfaction, though her temper and her manipulation may eventually drive him away unless he is equally unbalanced.

For the Hopeless Romantic, the prospect of being alone forever is worse by far than any other. She wants a Groom to constellate Eternal Virgin upon her, but she is not willing to take the risks that would allow a Groom to do so. Until she stands her ground, asserting that she will be treated like an Eternal Virgin or disappear altogether, she will always be on the cusp of losing her Groom. She can’t do this, of course, until she feels the pain of abuse even more keenly than the fear of solitude. She gradually forgets how to trust another, even though she dreams of a life in which trust is boundless. The great danger of the Hopeless Romantic is that she may lose her ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality altogether.

The above suffices to describe the Interpersonal Hopeless Romantic. But what about a social one? The Social Hopeless Romantic is most easily seen in institutions who are desperate for a strong leader. A floundering football club will often give away a shockingly long string of zeros to a prominent athlete or coach in a desperate attempt to return to competitive relevance. Such a club hopes for a savior to raise it up to the glory its members fantasize about, and to make pristine use of the resources the members feel are being squandered without a savior. Corporations and governments will sometimes make equally desperate moves, placing all of their bets of the genius leader in whom they cannot afford to have anything but the utmost confidence. If the Groom so courted should accept his place at the helm of the institution the two are veritably wedded. Should the institution go down in flames, the leader is seen as responsible. Because the Archetype is an unbalanced one, the only plausible scenario in which the institution will not go down in flames is if it should accidentally offer itself to a Pimp who transforms an unbalanced Bride into a Prostitute. In this case, the Groom does, indeed, become a savior, but at the cost of the institution’s moral sanctity.

On the inner level, the Hopeless Romantic is the part of yourself that moves rapidly into extreme enthusiasm only to be just as quickly deflated. The Inner Hopeless Romantic finds a sudden burst of creativity that is expended all in one sitting which, though productive, does not seem to amount to anything more than a single garment knitted in a manic frenzy or a shelf full of lop-sided ceramic that will never blossom into a consistent craft. The Inner Hopeless Romantic’s naivety is expressed in the tendency we have to imagine that a fleeting fascination will turn into a long-term romance. Until we raise our standards for what counts as an inner romance, we will always find ourselves flitting from one brief fascination to another. The Inner Hopeless Romantic craves a long-term commitment that will allow her to blossom as she knows she is capable. Her desperation for this commitment, however, leads to an over-willingness to give her energy and resources to a project or experience that is not a very good fit for her. Under the influence of the Inner Hopeless Romantic, we fling ourselves at projects, careers and relationships that we think are good enough, only to find that our Conscious Minds are easily distracted because Unconscious enthusiasm is too easy to come by.

The Negative Unbalanced Bride
Marriage: the Bride and the Groom Archetypes

Julia Roberts doing her thing.

The Runaway Bride is not afraid to commit. If we think she is, we misunderstand her. She has bought the dress, gone through the motions and stands at the altar, demonstrating her willingness to commit. Her hangup is an inner recognition that somehow it’s not yet time to marry. The instant she receives the cue to say “I do,” she cannot. Like all feminine Archetypes, the Bride is an expression of the Unconscious—in this case, the Unconscious Mind. She does not analyze or reflect on her feelings; rather, they are as they are and she can either be honest with herself or hide her feelings from herself.

The Runaway Bride enjoys the fantasy of herself riding off into the sunset with the man of her dreams, but for her it is a fantasy among many others that might not be as wholesome. She wants to marry one day, and she thought that this would be the day. She was enamored by the Groom, immersed herself in his Story, and built a stable relationship with him. Yet her desires still wander. She still lusts for youthful adventure.

The moral incoherence of an unbalanced Archetype always results in some kind of struggle within. For the Runaway Bride, the struggle is between the two kinds of Grooms available. A Runaway Bride is has experienced both sides: the Groom who is gentle, kind, generous, and yet strong; and the Groom who is domineering, ruthless, indomitable, and yet irresistible. She feels torn between these two and cannot yet choose how she wants to be treated. For her, the question is equal parts “Which Groom do I deserve,” and “How do I want to be treated?” The answer she tells herself is much different from the reality within. She tells herself she deserves the Groom she agreed to marry, but her inability to say “I do” demonstrates that she still needs to explore moral incoherence further before she is ready commit. She wants to know love sometimes and objectification other times. Love feels good, and objectification is rewarding. Why not have both?

Although our growing cultural feminist mentality may cause us to avoid facing the unsettling reality of the Bride’s attraction to enslavement, it is there, and none of us can deny it. Men and women alike find, when faced with a partner who will treat them like royalty, that they are uneasy and even resentful about being treated so well. We believe that we deserve to be ignored, used, and taken advantage of. Why? Because we are likely to do the same, of course. The Runaway Bride is not yet sure that she wants to be treated like an Eternal Virgin, like a queen. She finds in her abusers a perverse pleasure, a satisfaction in being treated as subhuman, and she wants to be able to return to the experience on occasion to get her fix. The exchange between the Runaway Bride and her “guilty pleasure” is one of convenience: she gets from the seedy side of her life a kind of compensation: money in exchange for sex, security in exchange for affection, etc. If she married the Groom who would treat her as his equal, she would never feel comfortable with him, would never feel equal to him, because she still likes having the ability to extract compensation in exchange for being objectified. And yet, despite her inability to marry him, she still wants to feel comfortable basking in the purity of his love for her.

Interpersonally, the Runaway Bride is anyone who, when offered a committed, stable experience (whether Good or Evil) does not feel ready to step into it, even resents being given an ultimatum. Only long-term commitment can establish the foundation for a satisfying experience. We all learn at one point or another that mere dabbling is not fulfilling. We get tired of introductory material, flimsy relationships, half-baked ideas. We long for substance. The Runaway Bride feels the first inklings of this longing for substance, otherwise she would not have found herself in a wedding. She still, however, wants to dabble. A co-worker who invites you to get to know him outside of work or a family member who invites you to a trip with her for a week can both represent Grooms who are inviting you to a wedding. The Interpersonal Runaway Bride will see in these invitations the opportunity to deepen and reinforce an existing relationship, but hesitates because she doesn’t know if she is ready to be the kind of person that the deepened relationship will require.

The Social Runaway Bride is a Crew that is too motley or too divisive to be comfortable with a leader, no matter who that leader is or what her leadership style. This Crew is often very talented, but equally difficult to work with. The Crew will frequently undermine the direction the organization is heading, and they will do it just for the laughs. Although the Social Runaway Bride believes that there really are conditions under which she will be happy and harmonious, the reality is that nothing seems to work. The organization may not be doomed to failure or sputtering out the way that a Social Hopeless Romantic is, but it is certainly doomed to mediocrity and constant setbacks due to in-fighting and resistance.

The Inner Runaway Bride is the part of yourself that sabotages you when you have something good going. This is one of the major inner elements of self responsible for procrastination. We attempt to commit to something, whether it’s a book project, a career, a relationship, or even a consistent sleep schedule, only to find that we unconsciously undermine our efforts. If a relationship we kinda like is starting to get serious, we blurt out off-handed comments that create distance or distrust. If the book starts shaping up with an outline and a few chapters, we invent reasons to abandon the project altogether, such as writing ourselves into a corner or changing our minds about fundamental assumptions. The Inner Runaway Bride is happy to sabotage any long-term commitment you make until you pay attention to her reasons for running away. The center of her message is that she is simply not ready for the experience you are asking from her. If the Inner Runaway Bride will only be happy dabbling, then the Conscious Mind should expect and be prepared for his experiences to be diverse but shallow. She is telling the Groom that he doesn’t really want her as badly as he thinks he does, so loosen up, have some fun, and settle down when he is truly ready.

The Positive Unbalanced Groom
Marriage: The Bride and Groom Archetypes

Husband-on-a-leash is a common trope indicating the Dutiful Husband.

The harmony between Bride and Groom is formed by the resonant recognition between them that they are both ready to engage in a new way of life. Our culture, however, typically discourages this kind of resonance. The religious pressure we put on horny children to marry before they copulate places an obligation upon their skinny shoulders that can lead directly into Archetypal imbalance. Of course, religion isn’t the only source of pressure to marry prematurely. The threat of deportation pushes illegal aliens into the act, and expectation pushes prominent figures into the act. The range of potential pressures to marry too early run the gamut.

The positive unbalanced Groom is a Dutiful Husband. He got married because it was what he was supposed to do for one reason or another. He honors his commitment to the best of his ability, but it demands that he push away the sneaking feeling that he has promised more than he really wanted to give. The Dutiful Husband will always feel that he missed out on his childhood, so the Serial Monogamist, who is the Dutiful Husband’s Shadow, is always at risk of emerging at the worst possible times—at moments of temptation.

In its most literal form, the Dutiful Husband appears as the married man who visits strip clubs and brothels but hides his visits from his wife. He sneaks out so he can make irresponsible decisions. What else can a man with too many responsibilities do to relieve the burden he never felt ready for? And yet he chose it. On a deeper level, the Dutiful Husband sees within himself a strong desire to be morally upstanding. He, like nearly everyone else in the world, sees himself as basically Good. What he does not realize is that moral Goodness cannot be forced upon the Self. The very act of attempting to force the Self to be morally Good is itself an Evil act, for the method of morally polarizing toward Evil is through force and control.

The only avenue from where you are to moral purity is honesty. No matter how hard the Dutiful Husband tries to be the Groom he feels he needs to be, he will fail. He will not fail because he is incapable of being a Good Groom; rather, he will fail because he is simply not ready for it. The Serial Monogamist within him will find its way out one way or another as he begins to fantasize about divorce. The Dutiful Husband’s longing for a different life where his commitments don’t feel so heavy express themselves in his words and actions. His attempts to hide this part of himself from his Bride act as a barrier between the two of them, one which she becomes increasingly resentful and suspicious of. His guilt mounts, but he continues on as before, repressing his idle fantasies of a freer lifestyle where his heart can explore as it likes, withdrawing further and further from his Bride as he becomes more and more separated from his own emotions. As in all cases, the outer reality mirrors the inner reality, so he has no choice but to alienate his Bride just as he has alienated his own Unconscious Mind.

The Dutiful Husband is a tragic figure because he wants so badly to be the one thing he is incapable of being (the reader may have guessed that I speak from experience here). The only way out is the most painful way: to admit that marriage was a hasty mistake that he still is not ready for. Only rarely can the Dutiful Husband transform himself within the marriage, because the marriage itself acts as the primary source of his guilt and shame. We cannot heal ourselves unless we first remove ourselves to a safe haven. His commitment to the Story he tells about himself and his Bride is as total as it can be, but the Story he chose is not his own, so his commitment to it cannot possibly be total. The Groom must carefully and slowly decide what his Story will be, and the more he allows outside pressure to determine his Story, the less it will belong to him and so the more restless his heart will be.

The Social Dutiful Husband tends to instantiate in middle-management where the inner tension between a career committed to and a career dreamed of becomes painfully transparent to anyone who knows this downtrodden figure. The Social Dutiful Husband succeeds in becoming a leader—to a degree. Everyone knows that it was not the life he’d have chosen for himself 20 years ago, but it’s too late. He’s already come this far and can’t afford to turn back. His refusal to cut his losses by sincerely considering a different Story—one in which he gives himself the freedom to choose a career he can fall in love with—brings him ever closer to despair. His Crew loves him and respects him for his loyalty, but they do not admire him. Every day he becomes a little more broken. Some members of his Crew walk all over him, while others make excuses for him. The Social Dutiful Husband’s household is always on the cusp of spinning out of control, so his chances for promotion are small indeed.

The Inner Dutiful Husband is, quite simply, your sense of duty. Where Prince Charming has discovered that his duty is to love and cherish his Unconscious Mind in all its manifestations, and the Pimp has discovered that his duty is to squash and eliminate all traces of weakness, many of us who lie somewhere between these two find that our senses of duty are out of sync with our actual desires. We achieve moral purity in the Groom Archetype only when our desires and our senses of duty align with each other. How else can our consciences be clear? Insofar as our senses of duty do not match our desires, the Inner Dutiful Husband is active within us. Wherever we have commitments that do not also make our hearts sing, we will find ourselves plodding along, hiding our true desires from ourselves, keeping the unsettled emotions of our Unconscious Mind at bay, and pushing away those who love us. The Inner Dutiful Husband is over-committed to a Story. He is the guilty Christian and the depressed atheist. He is the husband who thinks of his married life as a ball and chain. He is the Eeyore whose creativity and enthusiasm have been crushed by years of despair that he will never be able to get out from under the great weight of his commitments.

The Negative Unbalanced Groom

The negative unbalanced Groom is not afraid of commitment in as extreme a way as the Absent Father is. Where the Absent Father is nearly incapable of maintaining a relationship with a Mother, and is thus always disowning the Creature, or the relationship the two Co-create, the negative unbalanced Groom is a Serial Monogamist. In his interpersonal manifestations, he loves and enjoys having romantic relationships, and he is capable of establishing the relationship and owning up to his creations. The Serial Monogamist knows how to process his emotions and he understands more or less how the Feminine works.

The imbalance of the Serial Monogamist is his resistance to change. His approach to a potential Bride is that the relationship serves to give each other what they need and lack. The Serial Monogamist is looking for his Missing Piece. He expects the relationship to be imperfect and he expects that he may one day get bored with his partner, though he hopes they can give each other what is missing in their lives. What he does not expect, however, is that she will change into someone he doesn’t recognize. When his partner inevitably becomes more and more assertive about how he treats her and about what is an is not acceptable in their relationship, thus beginning her transition from Mother to Bride, the Serial Monogamist begins to feel betrayed and duped. “This is not what I signed up for,” he says, “you’re not the person I used to know.” He begins to think that he is “falling out of love” with her because she’s changed too much and he can’t love her as she is becoming. For the Serial Monogamist, a relationship is a static union. The Story he tells about himself and his lover is that she serves a specific purpose in his life, that she is meant to provide him with something he lacks (clean laundry, a warm embrace, a good diet, good company, etc.). If she decides she doesn’t want to be that person to him any more or if she fails to live up to his expectations, he feels justified in ending the relationship or in gradually pushing her out the door.

If the Serial Monogamist were to accept the Mother’s transition to Bride by moving forward with her, he would need discipline that he does not yet feel inclined toward. The Serial Monogamist is not interested in purifying his attitudes toward others. He is content to continue in his morally incoherent state, sometimes seeing the beauty and wonder of the other, sometimes looking to extract resources that he feels he needs. His idea of a relationship is common and unexciting. He gives to the other when he feels he can afford it, and he demands when he feels he needs. His approach to the relationship revolves entirely around what he perceives himself to need, without any recognition that his needs would be best served if he chose to turn his full and undivided attention to his partner, allowing her to be his Bride. His emotional hangups tend to be abandonment related, especially if his father never lived up very well to the committed Groom Archetype. The Serial Monogamist is afraid of accepting the surprising turns that other human being can take when they undergo the change. He intentionally chooses a Bride who fits his laundry list of traits more or less, and sticks with her as long as she can stick to that list.

The Serial Monogamist doesn’t just refuse to change; he assumes that he cannot change, and so his partner also should not change. Interpersonally, this can be a major source of tension because a partner who doesn’t believe in change will usually find himself attracting someone who never seems quite stable. Because his Unconscious Mind wants to be accepted as it is rather than forced into a box, the Serial Monogamist feels drawn toward partners who will likewise refuse his attempts to pigeon hole them.

The Social Serial Monogamist is the group member who intends only to do the job he signed up for. He often fails to rise to prominence in his organization because he refuses to step outside his comfort zone and shows very little ambition. His Bride, the organization he serves, may often only discover that he is a Serial Monogamist after he has put on an attractive show, landing him in the upper echelons of the organization. Only once he is there does the charade become apparent and the organization starts to wonder what they were thinking giving responsibility to someone who has no interest in going above and beyond.

On the inner level, the Serial Monogamist is the self that puts a time-limit or an investment constraint upon itself. It’s the self that will only watch a film if it has action sequences and tits, because it’s not willing to invest an hour and a half in something that doesn’t. This withholding self wants to fall in love, but is afraid of embracing the unexpected. Because we approach our commitments with laundry lists of perks, the Story we tell ourselves is one in which the laundry list of perks is the only benefit. The Inner Serial Monogamist uses the repressive and controlling methodology of the Pimp, but utterly lacks the Pimp’s conscious concession to this methodology. According to the Serial Monogamist, the things he’s looking for in his experiences are things everyone probably wants. If his partner wants them, too, he’d understand and would try to give those things to her as long as it’s not too much of a pain in the ass. Hence, the Inner Serial Monogamist doesn’t have the eyes to see the beauty and bounty of his own unconscious mind. He thinks he wants happiness, success, money, and status. He tells his Unconscious Mind that he’ll be getting these things for it, figuring that that’s what it wants. All the while, the Inner Serial Monogamist never listens long enough to learn that the Unconscious Mind just wants to be appreciated, to be allowed expression. The Serial Monogamist typically has no idea that his Unconscious has deep creative passions that would surprise him if he opened up to them.

Relationship #2: Marriage

Marriage: The Bride and Groom Archetypes

As a man who has been married once before for eight years (the last few of which were very good years) who is soon to be married again (God, I love that woman), I suppose it is appropriate for me to speak about Archetypal Marriage.

First, we must keep in mind that the word “marriage,” as it is currently used, contains Archetypal information about both mind and spirit. Since the Archetypal Relationship I’m currently exploring is exclusively mental, we’ll set aside the spiritual aspects of marriage, which include primarily the following two notions: (1) that it is an avenue toward communion with the Creator, and (2) that you marry your soulmate. I’ll return to these concepts later this year.

Marriage is a way of life. Interpersonally, a Marriage exists where two human beings, whether romantically involved or not, decide to treat each other only as either beautiful, bountiful, whole, and in command of their own lives in a Good Marriage, or as useful allies who are yet always a threat to each other’s autonomy. A friendship, a familial tie, and even a business partnership can be a marriage so long as it is a committed relationship in which one of these two morally coherent attitudes is consistently chosen by both parties.

Every marriage between two persons, whether Good or Evil, romantic or not, is empowered by the wholeness of the two persons. In other words, a husband and wife (to use the traditional example of marriage) are best served when the husband is able to be Bride to his wife and the wife is able to be Groom to her husband. The stabilizing power of alternating gender polarity in a relationship between two persons is reflected physically in our electrical systems: alternating current (AC) is well known to be more stable than direct current (DC). The AC characterization, however, falters insofar as it does not respect the overall gender-tendencies of the sexes. In reality, alternating gender polarity within a relationship tends to take the shape of the Tai Chi symbol, in which there is a bit of the masculine in the feminine and a bit of the feminine in the masculine.

Good Marriages

A Good Marriage is mutually respectful. Each is mindful to perceive the other as an end in herself and not as a means. Thus, there can be no lasting power struggles between them. If the two in a Good Marriage should find themselves engaging in a power struggle, then they are necessarily preparing to renew their vows, to re-enact the Wedding ceremony by choosing to abandon the Evil (i.e. controlling) attitude toward each other, reaffirm their commitment to love and support, and finally kiss (and have sex). A Good Marriage is not an adversarial relationship, but a partnership. As such, quarrels, differences of opinion or desire, and misunderstandings serve to offer opportunities for each to draw closer to the other by reaffirming the marriage over and over in microcosmic ways.

A Good Marriage is bonded. As soon as divorce is entertained as a real possibility, the two persons cease to engage the Bride and Groom Archetypes, reverting back to Mother and Father, who are not necessarily bonded for life; rather, they are only bonded for the lifespan of their Creature, i.e. the Story they in which they mutually participate. The bond in a Good marriage is the trust that builds between the two as they witness each other choosing over and over to approach each other in love and tenderness rather than manipulation. The speed-bumps we hit in our Married lives exist in order to strengthen the Marriage through re-iteration, to allow each to become aware of the ways in which they had not been as pure in their commitment to polarized morality with each other as they would like to be. Archetypal reiteration of the wedding vows is kind of relationship experience that allows us to be sure that we’ve got each other’s backs when shit goes down. It is the source of all trust between human beings. How else, indeed, do we learn to trust each other except to witness each other repeatedly choose love and support when we could have chosen abuse and manipulation.

Evil Marriages

An Evil Marriage is a symbiotic relationship, despite the absence of love. The two involved see in each other resources of which they can make good use. Each is aware that the relationship is one of convenience, but they still have a kind of fondness for each other due to the resonance between them, like a favorite toy. Between them there is a struggle for dominance, each attempting to manifest full mastery over the other, but not quite succeeding. That they are equal in power to each other, capable of checking each other, is what bonds them in the relationship. There is certainly no presence of trust. If anything, distrust is the foundation of the relationship. If one of them should become significantly more disciplined and to be offered an opportunity to rapidly increase in power by betraying the other, both would fully expect their partner to take the opportunity to do so. I’ve seen this kind of attitude many times over between business partners who have been together for years, know each other very well, and would still betray each other in a heartbeat if the payoff outweighed the perceived benefits of the symbiosis.

The Evil Marriage is the classic profane union between Pimp and Prostitute. Each offers to the other something desired and each will happily screw the other over if something better comes up. The Pimp protects the Prostitute, whom he considers to be his property. He decides what her value is, how she will be sold, and what the split will be. He has all the authority because without him, she is much more vulnerable. While she concedes to him authority and ownership, she is the breadwinner. All of the resources come to him through her, because she has what everyone wants and is willing to pay for. There is always a power struggle between them because each vies for a better cut of the proceeds. A powerful Prostitute can locate the Pimp’s weaknesses and use them to bid against him. A powerful Pimp, on the other hand, has a keen and far-seeing eye, capable of noticing one of the Prostitute’s plots coming a long way off.

Vicious Marriages

There are four types of unbalanced marriages, corresponding to the four possible unions between unbalanced Bride and Groom. I’ll explore each of these in turn. Unions that mix positive unbalance (under-active Archetype) and negative imbalance (over-active Archetype) tend to be dramatic and painful, while unions between two positive unbalanced Archetypes or two negative unbalanced Archetypes, though still unbalanced, are much more stable. These Unbalanced or Vicious Marriages can be transmuted into Virtuous Marriages through a mindfulness appropriate to each specific Unbalanced Archetype.

The Unbalanced Marriage between Hopeless Romantic (unbalanced positive) and Serial Monogamist (unbalanced negative) is one that begins with fireworks and ends in frustration and disappointment. The Hopeless Romantic flings herself at potential Grooms, hoping at every turn that this one will be the husband she has always dreamed of. Because she lacks the discipline and self-respect to wait for a Groom who genuinely appreciates her, her gauge of his interest is whether he responds to her flagrant attempts to get his attention. The Serial Monogamist, on the other hand, likes when a relationship is easy and doesn’t require much work from him. He’ll go along with her fantasies about weddings and babies, but he doesn’t promise her anything. When she discovers that he had no intention to change into the man of her dreams, she returns to the same desperation that landed her in his arms. She begins to nag and obsess. He, on the other hand, had no intention to be any more to her than he agreed to. Her purpose to him is to fit into the role he has assigned to his partner. The Serial Monogamist always sees a Bride as his Missing Piece, without which he is not whole. If she can live up to that role, she can stick around. If she can’t, then he’ll eventually decide he’s uncomfortable enough in the relationship to leave and look for someone who fits that role more closely. That is how this kind of Marriage typically ends: the Hopeless Romantic loses the last vestige of the dream she’d been clinging to, when the Serial Monogamist decides that the Hopeless Romantic is just too emotionally turbulent for his taste. We often hear the Serial Monogamist describe his Hopeless Romantic ex as having been “too crazy” for him.

Marriage: The Bride and Groom Archetypes

This cynical depiction of marriage is characteristic of the union between Runaway Bride and Dutiful Husband.

The Unbalanced Marriage between Runaway Bride (unbalanced negative) and Dutiful Husband (unbalanced positive) is the classic tragedy of a nice guy married to a woman who takes him for granted. The Runaway Bride starts the relationship with adoration and respect for her Groom, happy to finally be with someone stable, dependable. As the relationship progresses, however, she begins to find these very traits loathsome because she never gets any excitement or passion. She becomes vocal about her dissatisfaction with him, though she doesn’t really want to leave him because he gives her stability. The longer she stays with him, the more his lack of self-respect begins to disgust her, as she finds herself wishing he would just take a stand, though she’d prefer not to have to tell him to since that would defeat the purpose. He, on the other hand, jumped into the relationship early, seeing how she was happy to soak up all the attention he gave her. Her unpredictable nature excites him, but he doesn’t have the guts for a fling, so he targets what he knows: a marriage. His friends tell him that she’s not the kind of girl you marry, but he doesn’t think he’ll find someone he likes better. When he discovers that he can’t seem to live up to her expectations, he fears she will leave him. In his fear, he also turns a blind eye when she cheats on him. Unless the two learn to be mindful, her dissatisfaction with the relationship is inevitable, and she will ultimately leave him to repeat the cycle with someone more exciting.

The Unbalanced Marriage between Hopeless Romantic and Dutiful Husband is by far the stablest of the four, though it is characterized by co-dependence. When the Dutiful Husband satisfies the Hopeless Romantic’s short list of perceived relationship needs, he dives into the relationship head-first because for him the only acceptable form of relationship is a fully committed one. The Dutiful Husband listens to the Hopeless Romantic’s fantasies and tries to fulfill them. He takes her happiness to be his duty, but because her fantasies are always out of reach, he never feels like a good husband. Moreover, because he has over-committed, he is always fighting the shadow self (Serial Monogamist) that fantasizes about being free and unbound by his marital duty. In this relationship, the Hopeless Romantic’s mind is in tension with itself. On one hand, she believes in the potential of the relationship to live up to her fantasy; on the other hand, the fantasy is always out of reach and her husband always seems to be pulling away and/or hiding something. Their disappointment with each other mounts as the two become more co-dependent. The guilt the Dutiful Husband feels about his growing desire to end the relationship causes him to feel continuously more bound to the Hopeless Romantic. The Hopeless Romantic’s desperation mounts as she feels so close but so far away from her dream, so as time passes she refuses to give it up because it feels so close. The older the relationship gets, the more repressed these inner tensions become, binding the two ever further in patterns that they understand less and less as time passes.

The Unbalanced Marriage between Runaway Bride and Serial Monogamist is the most harmonious of the four, though it also tends to be the shallowest. The two typically begin as partners in crime. When they meet, they discover that the share enough common interests to keep themselves busy with each other. They usually do not live together, though they spend most of their available hours together. The Runaway Bride and Serial Monogamist are addicted to each other, though both typically have additional addictions elsewhere. The trouble between them begins when the Runaway Bride discovers that the Serial Monogamist will only give her what also benefits him. That is, both are self-centered, but the Runaway Bride is the one who tends to vocalize that the situation is unacceptable. The moral incoherence of the relationship is apparent: the Runaway Bride wants to be appreciated, but she is stingy in giving her resources; the Serial Monogamist wants a Bride who will accept him as he is, but he is stingy in giving her attention. Because the two are unwilling to “give a little more than you’re asking for,” their relationship breaks down. Similar interests are no longer enough to keep the two together, as each wants a stability from the other that neither can provide.

Each of these Vicious Marriages can be transmuted into Virtuous Marriages if the persons involved perceive the repeating cycles and decide to become more mindful. More on this in the “Mindfulness” reflection below.

The Marriage Story

The choice of Story belongs to the Groom, who is the active member of the relationship. As a participating party, however, the Bride must decide for herself whether to play her role in the Story. In interpersonal terms, the Story is commonplace. What do we tell our lovers about themselves? “You’re beautiful just as you are,” or “You need to lose weight”? “I love how expressive you are,” or “You make no sense”? We don’t always tell our Stories with words, though. The way you treat your lover is the Story you tell about her. If you suggest that she is not good enough, that she is to be your servant, that her hopes and dreams are insignificant in comparison to your own, then you are telling a Story in which she is a Prostitute, whether you explicitly say any of this or not. None of the outward actions matter in this sense; it is enough to simply perceive your lover as an object for you to use, and your actions and words will confirm the Story you have adopted.

The Story we tell our lovers about themselves runs parallel to the Story we tell ourselves. A man who treats women as objects must necessarily also have the same relationship to himself. While this may not make sense at first, it is not his whole Self that he perceives as an object; rather, it is the hidden, authentic self—the unconscious self. We prostitute ourselves by devaluing the source of our own hidden resources. Do you call yourself lazy or stupid sometimes? Do you get frustrated when you act out emotions that undermine your relationships? Do you force yourself to do things you don’t want to do? Do you tell yourself that certain thoughts or feelings are wrong and that you shouldn’t have them? These are the hopes and dreams, the thoughts and affectations of your own Inner Bride. Insofar as you attempt to keep these things under control rather than to embrace and love them as they are, you view yourself as an object, as a Prostitute.

At what cost? Your lover will step into the role you cast for her in your Story. Tell her she is fat and ugly and she will become so. Tell her she is stupid and lazy and she will become so. Tell her that she is a lying bitch, and your suspicions are sure to be confirmed. The Bride does not do this out of spite; rather, she does so because the Groom chooses the Story. Her choice is to either play the role you have cast her in or to walk out. Unless you make space in your Story for her to play a more virtuous role, she will be unable to provide you with any virtue. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy if you will, these patterns repeat over and over in human relationships. It is this phenomenon that causes us to discover what we had only after we lose it, so hidden we can be to the virtues of our lovers. The same applies equally to the Inner Bride, the Unconscious Mind, who will respond even more felicitously to your demands than any living human being will. Sometimes people tell us “Be kind to yourself,” or “Forgive yourself,” or “Treat yourself well.” If what we hear in these phrases is “It’s okay to be weak and lazy,” we have already chosen to see ourselves as Prostitutes.

Loving and accepting the Inner Bride just as she is does not mean succumbing to vice any more than choosing to see your lover as beautiful means accepting that she is ugly. To see another as beautiful is a matter of perspective. I’ve known cynical acquaintances who liked to say, “For every hot girl you see, there’s some guy out there who’s tired of fucking her.” As offensive as the claim is, it points to something real: it doesn’t matter what she looks like. If you are incapable of accepting imperfection in another, then the other will never be acceptable, no matter how closely she approximates your image of perfection. In order to accept the Bride as she is, the Groom must approach her with the assumption that the deeper he digs into the relationship, the more virtue, beauty and satisfaction he will find. In this process of radical acceptance, what once appeared as imperfection or ugliness becomes beautiful uniqueness.

The Mariner and the Ocean

Marriage: the Bride and Groom Archetypes

Captain Picard. A lovely example of the mariner exploring the ocean.

The Bride and Groom Archetypes come down to us in many blatant forms, not least of which are the countless cinematic features targeted specifically at women. One especially useful analogy for these Archetypes, however, is not so obvious. The relationship between the mariner and the ocean is a well documented concept (Old Man and the Sea, Moby Dick, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” etc.) that is a direct expression of the Marriage relationship. This analogy is also commonly reiterated in science fiction tales, such as Star Trek and Doctor Who.

We sometimes imagine that the mariner’s one true love is his ship. He even refers to his ship as a female, loves and cares for her the way he would a wife, and mourns her passage when she is no longer seaworthy. Even so, the ship is not the mariner’s one true love. If it were, then we might imagine that the mariner would cease to sail when his ship breaks down. The mariner trope, however, never loses his passion for the ocean even if he must find a new ship. The mariner’s one true love is, of course, the ocean itself. “No matter what happens,” the mariner tells himself, “I will always have the ocean.”

The mariner trope is chronically unwed. That is, there is no human female whom he takes for a wife. If he did have such a woman, she would be second behind the ocean. Some women say of their husbands (my mother was one of them in the early days of my parents’ marriage) that “I’m his second wife; his first is his work.” So it is with the mariner and the ocean. Interestingly, however, the mariner who has a crew takes on a similar relationship to his crew as he does to the ocean. Just as he explores the mysteries of the ocean, so he explores the mysteries of his crew. In their adventure upon the ocean, they “find out what they are made of.” The adventure is nothing less than a romance.

Archetypally, the ocean is the most prominent and obvious symbol of the Unconscious Mind. Every student of Jung knows this. Through his commitment to the ocean, the mariner acts out the Alchemical Marriage between the Conscious Mind and Unconscious Mind. To the mariner, nothing else offers the depth, mystery, subtlety, majesty, and beauty of the ocean. He can spend a thousand lifetimes on the ocean and still never run out of adventures.

The ship, however, is one of the most fascinating aspects of this trope. The mariner cannot sail upon the ocean without a ship. Although he may occasionally swim in the ocean, virtually all of his experience is through the medium of a vessel. What the trope of the mariner and the ocean brings out in the Archetypal Relationship between the Groom and the Bride is that there is always a medium through which the Groom enjoys, explores, and comes to know his Bride.

A human being can not know the mind of another human being directly. Although we dream of a future world where we have easy access to telepathic communication, we are currently stuck in the binding subjectivity of the human experience. No matter how well I know you, there is a possible alternate interpretation for all of your actions, an interpretation which is made possible by the boundary between your mind and my own. How do I know that you are sincere, that you give freely of yourself to me, that you care about me as a human being? Could you not be hiding a secret agenda, laying a sophisticated trap? Of course you could. There is not getting beneath the possibility that my impression of you is inaccurate. All I have is an impression, just as you have.

When the Groom decides to take a Bride, he can only do so through the medium of his impression of her. Although he has been courting her for some time and is therefore familiar with her behaviors, her beliefs, her passions, and her talents, at bottom he must still decide how he will perceive her. The Groom must trust his Bride and trust her boundlessly. He knows that he will discover sides of her that will be surprising, that circumstances will bring out both the best and the worst in her, and he must trust that through all of this, her beauty and her love for him remain untarnished. This he must do, at least, if he has chosen the moral Good.

If, however, the Groom has chosen the moral Evil, he will see his Bride as a power to keep at bay. She is a constant threat to him. At any moment she may locate a weakness of his and prey upon it, so he must be ruthless in his conquest of her, ensuring at all times that she is aware that he is her superior and she is his servant. What the Evil mariner sees in the ocean is the potential for plunder and conquest; whereas, what the Good mariner sees is potential for discovering new and ever more gorgeous vistas.

What, then, is the ship? The ship is, of course, the Story. The Storyteller’s Story chronicles the Conscious Mind’s exploration of the Unconscious Mind. In our mental youth, we adopt the Stories we interpret from our parents and culture. These Stories are always morally mixed because we do not yet have polarized inner resources. That is, because our Inner Child’s values are mixed, the Story the Child chooses will be mixed. A mixed or morally incoherent Story is a poorly constructed ship. It may float and it may last for a time on the ocean, but it is somehow ill-equipped for long excursions. If we only ever sail upon poorly constructed ships, then we will never know the deep and unfathomable beauty that the mariner knows. The mariner finds maturity through the surety of his ship and the strength of his desire to explore the ocean.

In an interpersonal relationship (a literal bride and groom), the relationship between the two is the ship, the Story. As long as this relationship is well-equipped and adaptable, it will prove a strong vessel in which the two may explore and come to know each other in a way that would not have otherwise been possible. A mariner must commit to two basic attitudes if his adventures are to be fruitful: he must commit to absolute trust in the ocean itself, and he must commit to diligent and careful maintenance of his ship. Interpersonally, the Marriage Relationship demands constant work from the Groom in order to keep the vessel seaworthy.

There are two ways in which a Marriage can end: either the ship breaks down or the mariner is on the wrong ocean. What makes the Story of the relationship between Bride and Groom strong and sure is commitment to greater and greater moral purity. The Groom must consistently choose to adopt the attitude that his Bride is the jewel of his life, the most precious and beautiful thing in the world, deserving of kindness, attention, consideration, generosity, and love. Where he falters in his perception that she is so, he must augment the Story he tells himself about the relationship between the two of them, just as the mariner must augment his ship when it breaks down. With each forward step into the Marriage, the Groom must learn to love his Bride ever more deeply and ever more purely as something to be cherished and not something to be merely used. If any of the Groom’s beliefs or attitudes about himself or her get in the way of his commitment to her pristine majesty, he must carefully dislodge these rotten parts from his vessel and replace them with new and better functioning parts.

The Alchemical Marriage

Marriage: The Bride and the Groom Archetypes

The Alchemical Wedding. Rife with symbolism. You don’t need me to interpret this one, right?

At the most fundamental level, all of these descriptions point toward the moving parts within the Self. No outer Marriage can succeed which does not follow in the footsteps of an inner Marriage, which the Medievals referred to as the “Alchemical Marriage” or “Alchemical Wedding.” When we think of the inner Self, especially in terms of union between masculine and feminine, I think we tend to imagine that the analogy is only a rough approximation of what actually happens. This turns the Architecture on its head. The foundation of all human experience is the commonalities between each of us, the Architecture that we all share and through which we engage in all our uniquely human experiences—including romantic unions. A marriage, then, is a precise and detailed expression of the condition of the inner self, specifically the Mind.

Moral coherence is the target toward which we all move as we grow and mature. The descriptions I’ve provided of Good and Evil—whether in Brides, Grooms, or Marriages—are idealized characterizations that we human beings typically only approximate. We are all unbalanced in some ways. The movement toward an Alchemical Marriage, then, is the process of transmuting our vicious inner relationships into Virtuous ones.

The Serial Monogamist within us is not willing to spend time with the thoughts and emotions that gush out of our Unconscious Minds. We usually don’t intend to repress our emotions (we would be Evil if we did), but we do it anyway because we do not want to feel them, or because we are afraid of what will happen if we do, or because we think that certain emotions (negative ones) are bad. The Inner Bride wants to be loved and accepted just as she is. She comes as a package and the Inner Groom must learn to embrace everything, not just the few characteristics that he sees as virtuous. You’re not going to change your Unconscious Mind; that’s just not how the Architecture works. She is as she is: robust, swirling, complete. The only thing you can change is how she gives herself to you. When we make demands of the Unconscious Mind or refuse to sit with her when she asks us to listen (in case you don’t understand, I’m talking about sitting with your emotions and accepting them as they are, no matter how uncomfortable), we invite bitterness, nagging and resentment. Our unconscious mind begins to hate and betray us because we don’t pay attention to her.

The Dutiful Husband within us is just as much in danger as the Serial Monogamist. The Unconscious Mind wants you to approach her with a Story, one into which she can step gracefully, to dance before you and win your love each day, the two of you falling deeper and deeper together. The Dutiful Husband, however, approaches her with a Story that he did not choose. He has a rigid concept of how he is supposed to (key words) handle his Unconscious Mind. When we dogmatically accept what our religious or spiritual teachers tell us about processing emotions without asking ourselves whether it works for us, we are taking the Inner Dutiful Husband approach. Our Unconscious Mind begins to lose hope because she can see that we are not doing what we really want. When a woman tells a man, “just be yourself,” or “be normal,” she is mirroring the Unconscious Mind that just wants us to follow our desires. Many of us do not dare to believe in a world in which what is right is the same as what we want. Would that be too good to be true? Regardless of whether it is true, it is what the Inner Bride most wants from us. Our Unconscious Minds are a blessing to us. We may have trouble understanding our emotions, but we are yet capable of trusting that they are a blessing even without understanding. Just as every Bride deserves to be with a Groom who feels lucky to have her, so all of our Unconscious Minds deserve from us the same. You have infinite potential within you. You are capable of greatness, of genius, of beautiful expression and profound achievement. But you’ll never see any of it unless you learn to trust that what you want is what is right, rather constantly trying to enforce within you that what someone else’s Story says is right is what you want.

The Runaway Bride within us tells us that we are not yet ready for Marriage. Why rush initiation? We are here to gain experience, to grow and mature at our own pace. As we progress along this path we will naturally discover that what feels right is initiation. We do not become ready for Marriage by promising something we are not capable of giving; rather, we become ready for Marriage when we realize that we’re sick and tired of walking the fence between Good and Evil. We become Virgins when we are so tired of being treated like an object that we are willing to sacrifice the the very possibility of Marriage. On the inner level, the Runaway Bride shows us what the consequences of our attitudes are. The more we pay attention to the presence or absence of Unconscious resources, the closer the Runaway Bride comes to Virginity. When I was unemployed and desperate for work, I had a very brief stint as a ghost writer. I made exactly $10 ghost writing. I was so sickened and disgusted by the whole experience that I decided I’d never write someone else’s work again. Unfortunately, the damage had been done and I didn’t have the energy to work on my own writing. My Inner Bride ran away from me because what I was asking her to give me did not respect her actual desires. I could only offer her money for what might have been priceless if I had simply asked her to do what she loves. The consequence of my taking this approach to her was that she did not appear for me when I decided to write what I cared about. When we spend our creative energies making money, we do not have the creative resources left to do what we love, even if we have the time for it. The only way to end the Inner Runaway Bride cycle is to forgo either the objectification or the loving union. We can either make money doing something we are good at, or we can do what we love without placing a specific dollar value on it.

The Inner Hopeless Romantic tells us that our Story is too flimsy and open-ended. The Groom must have a water-proof Story, one whose vision is clear enough that active steps can be taken. The Inner Bride wants you to be confident in your stride. We often waste our energy on pipe-dreams and poorly conceived projects. In a burst of excitement, we take on our Unconscious Mind’s fluidity without realizing that we are in danger of being swept away by the current that our vessel was incapable of compensating for. Instead of a sure and solid craft, we set sail in a mere raft, leaving ourselves open to the great tide of emotion which so easily sends us off course. When I decided I was not going to pursue academia, I was adrift in the current of the Hopeless Romantic. I did not have a strong Story about who I was or where I was going, so I entertained all manner of ideas, from mechanical engineering to internet marketing. All of these things interested me in a passing way, but none of them had any staying power, and I didn’t have the inner resources to commit to any of them. The Inner Hopeless Romantic can only be transmuted into the Virgin when we take the time to reflect on our desires before committing to a course of action. If we need to dabble, then we should dabble without commitment. Few experiences are as disappointing as having to withdraw from a long-term project that your heart wasn’t in. These experiences offer powerful lessons about what we do and do not want, but they are costly. If you have had enough of the failed and half-finished projects, then take time to discover your Story. Focus on where you want to go and who you want to be. Focus on what you believe in and what you are most passionate about. Then, once you have these things in hand, the sea will welcome you and the wind will aid you on your journey.

The Alchemical Marriage is an inner union which we recognize in persons who are self-possessed, disciplined, and confident. Leaders we admire, people who “have their shit together,” and those whose spirit is unbreakable in the face of adversity all draw from the boundless resources available to the Alchemically wedded.

Monogamy

You might think that this entire essay is a potent endorsement of traditional marriages (between one man and one woman). In a way, it is. This kind of marriage, however, is only the most literal and overt expression of the Archetypal Relationship that I’ve called Marriage. Human beings are drawn toward pure expressions of the 22 Archetypes and their 12 Relationships. We want to have these kinds of experiences on an instinctive level, so it should not surprise us that many of us want to enter into marriages between one man and one woman: it offers a rich Archetypal experience that fulfills us in a primal way.

However, Archetypes are accessible in many and multifarious ways. If they were not, they would not be so elusive and hard to pinpoint. The deepest, simplest and most profound Marriage of all is the Alchemical Wedding: the marriage between Conscious Mind and Unconscious Mind. Every other kind of Marriage is merely a reflection of this foundation, without which no one could act as a living expression of either Groom or Bride. We must all marry ourselves before we can truly marry another. The Alchemical Wedding is capable, all on its own, of fulfilling our Marriage instincts. Thus it is that fully realized masters are reported to have felt no need for a romantic relationship with another person: they find fulfillment in the Alchemical Wedding.

Perhaps now you think I am endorsing celibacy. In reality, I endorse that each explores her own will, her own desires, until she is satisfied. Once she is satisfied, I endorse that she moves on to whatever stirs her next. We cannot approach either celibacy or monogamy in moral purity unless that is what we want, both conscious and unconsciously. The centerpiece of all coherent morality is the principle that duty follows desire. We will eventually discover within ourselves the desire for certain kinds of relationships, ones which naturally move in the direction of moral coherence. The premise that the Alchemical Wedding is sufficient to satisfy our craving for an Archetypal Marriage opens the door to the acceptability of any kind of romantic circumstance, so long as it approaches moral coherence. We do not need to be committed to one person of the opposite gender (if not the opposite sex), though we can if we want. The basic principle of Marriage is not that it is between two and two only; rather, the basic principle is that each commits to a pure exploration of the other according to a morally coherent Story. In a morally positive Story, that means entering into a loving partnership with the other where nothing is forced and everything is embraced. In many cases, a morally coherent Story leads to satisfaction with each other and no desire to seek romance elsewhere. But there are yet reasons why some may choose non-monogamous relationships.

“Polyamory” is a young word to match a fairly young culture, though the persons involved in the culture are not necessarily young. The word itself is frequently misused as a synonym for “unwilling to commit.” This misuse of a very useful word is understandable: many there are who, embarrassed about their romantic flightiness (usually an inner Runaway Bride and/or Serial Monogamist), adopt a pretty label for it, such as “poly.” A more charitable reading of the culture indicates that polyamory is a Story about how to have romantic relationships in a morally coherent way without subscribing to the monogamous model. According to this Story, we sometimes find within ourselves the desire to be romantic with more than one. At the center of this desire is not the necessity of choosing between Good and Evil (Virgin and Prostitute), but a spiritual calling to be Bride to multiple Grooms or Groom to multiple Brides—even if only for a time.

Why would we have a spiritual calling to more than one? The answer is that sex has a peculiar function. It allows us to share our strengths with our partners so that we help each other balance our weaknesses. It also establishes a powerful bond between the persons involved. If, for whatever reason, this kind of exchange and bond becomes desirable and appropriate (two attributes that spiritual calling often confers) between more than two, then a non-monogamous relationship model can still fulfill the Marriage Archetype, making it just as sacred as any other romantic bond.

The exclusivity of the relationship between Bride and Groom—especially when they are the Virgin and Prince Charming—does not necessitate literal exclusivity because the human mental experience (which is the domain of Bride and Groom) is a nested Story. The Bride and Groom must be fully committed to each other, but the two Archetypes appear at every level, and one commitment does not negate or supersede another. A man and woman embark together upon the adventure in which each enters the other as the mariner enters the ocean. On this most obvious level, it is a Story of two persons in love. However, the ship’s crew is also a Bride and the ocean that Captain and Crew explore together is Bride to the entire ship. Together they are devoted to their lives as mariners, but on a lower level, the Captain and Crew are devote to each other as shipmates. Similarly, within a marriage, the two can be devoted to each other as married partners while still sailing upon a Social sea of non-monogamy—if they should so choose. That is why the community surrounding non-monogamous yet morally positive approaches to romance usually depends upon so-called “primary” relationships: Married couples who are devoted to each other personally in a different way from any other kind of relationship. These primary unions then act as a single Mariner exploring the Ocean of romantic union with other persons or couples. They are able to preserve moral coherence by giving their commitment to each other as Virgin and Prince Charming priority over their commitment to exploring the ocean of non-monogamy. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, so we still can’t count out the possibility of morally positive non-monogamous relationships without primaries.

Despite all of this, the likely ending to every human story that tirelessly seeks balance and harmony (i.e. maturity in the positive moral direction) is an Archetypal one: eventually, the adventure settles down to an exploration of subtlety within the stable confines of a relationship between only two persons. It is no accident that non-monogamy is an experiment prominent between the ages of 30-50. Most of us are too immature to make it work younger than 30 and mature enough to want just one romantic partner older than 50. As long as the persons involved are sincerely following their desires and their desires are appropriately prioritized (preserving the primary union above all), the excursion into non-monogamy is likely to bring them closer to each other in ways unexpected. A morally coherent approach to non-monogamy is a short-cut to deep trust and profound intimacy between two persons. The stakes, however, are high: a morally incoherent approach to non-monogamy is also short-cut to distrust and alienation.

The Wedding Ceremony

Marriage: The Bride and the Groom Archetypes

Isn’t it purty?

The Unconscious Mind wants above all to be seen, understood, appreciated, noticed. It feels an agonizing silence, but also feels that it must wait until it is approached before it may give of itself. As an expression of the Unconscious Mind, the Bride carries with her these same characteristics. The wedding ceremony only peripherally concerns the Groom; he is a crucial element, but he is not the center of the ceremony. The ceremony is for the Bride because although he has already chosen her (represented by the Proposal), they are not married until she chooses him, which is an act of complete spontaneity. The purpose of the wedding ritual, then, is to create the conditions in which this spontaneous act may occur, and she tells her Groom “I do” in the utmost sincerity.

Because the power of the mind comes from the unconscious (who harbors all thought, all emotion, all ideation), the Conscious Mind is at the mercy of the Unconscious Mind’s decision. She cannot be rushed, but must be carefully attended in a slowly building process of courtship. The courtship between Conscious and Unconscious Mind occurs in the relationship between the Mother and the Father, but culminates in the Father’s decision that he is willing to commit further: he is in love. In the moment that the Father discovers his commitment to the Mother, he becomes the Groom. As the Groom, he Proposes once again, but this time he Proposes once and for all. She is to be his Bride. Despite his commitment, however, he still depends on her approval. She may say “yes” to his Proposal, but this second act of saying “yes” is much different from the first. Whereas in the first act, the Débutante is committing only to a new experience, in the second act, the Bride is committing to an entire life together. The marriage Proposal, then, is qualitatively different from the Suitor’s Proposal, which is more like a Proposition (in the sexual sense). In the marriage Proposal, the Groom cannot ask the question until he has reached the point of unwavering certainty, and the Bride cannot answer until she is upon the altar in the midst of the ceremony.

Most of the symbols of a standard wedding give details about the Bride and her relation to the Groom. The dress represents who the Bride is choosing to be in the Groom’s Story. In the moment of the wedding, the Bride must present herself in her fullest glory, revealing to the Groom for the first time the prize that his commitment and resoluteness have won for him. Having once seen his Bride on their wedding night, the Groom can be tempted by no other. The Bride’s walk down the aisle reiterates both her desire to be seen and the importance of her choice to be wed. The Groom waits at the altar for his Bride, uncertain whether she will appear or not. If she does not appear, the signal to the Groom is that he has chosen the wrong woman, that he must rethink his convictions and attitudes.

Although wedding ceremonies are rare in our experience—we typically only intend to do it once—the Archetypal Relationship is frequent and mimics the ceremony in detail. Every moment brings me the opportunity to observe the deepening relationship between myself and my fiancée, to find in myself the continually strengthening resolve that she is the woman I want as my partner for life. I thus become more and more the Groom even prior to the ceremony. This dynamic intensifies whenever there is tension between us. At those times, I find myself offering her a Story into which she may choose to fit. If she indicates that she doesn’t like my Story, then I’ve been left at the altar. The emotions of separation between us intensify and I must seek solitude for a while to rethink my Story. Then I return to her again and Propose the Story that I am asking her to be part of. Because the Bride and Groom can only manifest within us when we choose Good or Evil more purely than before, the only Story that reunites us is one that is even more closely aligned to an attitude of unconditional love, acceptance and preservation and respect for her free will. When I do locate within myself this Story, I return to her again, asking forgiveness for having Proposed an inadequate Story to her, and Proposing a new and purer Story. If the Story resonates with her, she will shower me with unrestrained love and affection (metaphorically donning her wedding dress), affirming her commitment to me (metaphorically taking her vows). We will thus have experienced a small wedding ceremony, even to the point of culminating in what she calls “makeup sex.” Some say that the best part of fighting is having sex after making up. The reason they say this is that on these occasions, the sex is between Bride and Groom, rather than Suitor and Débutante or Mother and Father.

Naturally, because we have all Archetypes within us, I am sometimes the Bride and she the Groom. I have my own Unconscious Mind that my Conscious Mind must wait upon to give an answer. I am, indeed, committed to her, but that commitment comes from a mysterious place within me whose motions are not clear to me. She has her own Story into which will ask me to step. She asked me to move to Oklahoma with her and although I answered “yes,” I knew that I wouldn’t know what my real answer was until I was walking down that aisle, approaching the Point of No Return. As the Bride in this situation, I then had to plan the wedding by preparing a ceremony (we call it “moving”) in which I reveal to her in microcosm the role that I will play in the Story of us in Oklahoma.

The Bachelor Party

The wedding itself is a major initiation ritual, but its focus is upon the Bride. A wedding ceremony initiates the Bride into a relationship with the Groom, who has already undergone an initiation ceremony. The Groom’s initiation, however, is darker. As a culture, we have inherited a tradition that makes very little sense in its common manifestation: the bachelor party. According to prevailing attitudes, the bachelor party serves as one last hurrah before a man enters into the prison of marriage because if he doesn’t marry he’ll lose his woman. In effect, the bachelor party as it currently exists signifies that the two are entering into a Vicious Marriage. According to this prevailing attitude, only the woman really wants to undergo initiation. Archetypally, she is the Bride who has already chosen how she wants to be treated and is informing the Groom that if he is not willing to transform his attitude of her into one in which she is cherished and adored (or kept carefully in check if that’s her thing), then she’ll leave. The man who tries to save his relationship through marriage puts himself in danger of a ruinous experience (the prison of marriage) unless he is ready to initiate his Bride into union with him.

How can the Groom know if he is ready? In the wedding ceremony, the Groom stands at the altar, waiting for the Bride. He is unmoving and resolute. If he shows up to the wedding, then rest assured he will marry his Bride. The Bride, however, is in motion. He must await her arrival, uncertain about how she will look. She must choose to walk down the aisle and she must choose to say “I do,” which is not a given, considering how well known the Runaway Bride trope is. In the wedding ceremony, the Groom is not given the opportunity to choose the way the Bride is. He must have chosen prior to the wedding ceremony.

Enter the bachelor party. Whereas tradition touts it as an opportunity to sleep with hookers and get away with it, the initiatory act moves in stark contrast to this tradition. Archetypally, the bachelor party is a temptation ritual. Before the Groom can know whether he is ready to marry, he must be tempted. The temptress must instantiate the moral opposite of his Bride. Thus, if the Groom intends to marry an Eternal Virgin, then the temptress must be a Prostitute. In a proper temptation ritual, the best man will arrange for the Groom to be tempted by a woman who wants to be treated as a sex object. She must appeal to his desire for sexual conquest as much as possible, even to the point of the Groom’s abstinence from sex for a period beforehand. The best man will then arrange for the Groom to be taken into a private space by the Prostitute where no one else enters. In private, the Prostitute attempts to initiate sex with the Groom. In principle, there are to be no outward consequences if the Groom acquiesces to the Prostitute’s advances. It is his will that is being tested, not his ability to conform to expectations.

Initiation for the Groom is his pure expression of will in the moment of greatest temptation, with as many consciously perceived consequences removed as possible. If he gives in to sex with the Prostitute, then it is his responsibility to call off the wedding. He will find only hardship and regret should he choose to go through with the wedding after giving in to the temptation. If, on the other hand, he resists sex with the Prostitute, he will become possessed of a conviction and certitude he did not have before. When he stands upon the altar, he will be genuinely unmoved, the dauntless captain of a ship, awaiting the moment when his Bride, the ocean, decides to accept him.

Having said all this, however, this kind of initiation must be adapted to existing social norms if it is to be used. In reality, a man who is consciously seeking to purify his experience, to grasp his desires, accept his emotions, and grow more mature thereby will probably find himself tempted many times over whether he does so ritually or not. This, at least, was the case for me. Even in writing this section, I contemplated the possibility of undergoing such a ritual myself, only to decide that there was no way I could possibly be tempted in this scenario. I’ve already run this gauntlet.

Reflections

This essay turned out to be almost 30,000 words. At some point, I had to call it quits, so I have only provided two reflections. I think I’ve provided enough analogies and examples that the reader can get the point. The two reflects that follow are the ones I felt I couldn’t leave out. The reflection on mindfulness is a no-brainer. The sections I include on mindfulness in these Archetype essays are the most practical information I have to offer. This is where I explain how you can move from an unbalanced state to a balanced one. Similarly, I actually have but a single experience with a prostitute. It was interesting and telling (but not raunchy, I promise), so I shared. Thank you for bearing with me.

My Experience with a Prostitute

The Bride Archetype, though existing in a moment, appears more frequently than we might realize. One experience in my life stands out because of the richness of symbolic elements, despite the mundane context. I became sexually experimental after my divorce because at no other time in my life had I been both single and beyond the influence of a repressive religious attitude. Out of brazen curiosity, I decided I wanted to know what it was like to have sex with a prostitute. I got on Craigslist (I wasn’t ready to brave the street) and found a woman. I knew I was not going to be like her usual clientèle because I had already discovered within myself a preference for emotional connection. When she showed up, I spent time getting to know her and getting accustomed to mutual touch because I didn’t want it to be a strictly physical affair, even if the experience was to be non-repeating. In order to allow myself to forget as soon as possible that there was a monetary transaction happening, I paid her almost as soon as she walked in.

She, however, was uneasy about my attitude. She was accustomed to wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, which was lifeless and dull to me. In retrospect, I must have wanted a clear example of what it really means to engage in prostitution. Although she seemed receptive at first to my efforts at cutting through interpersonal barriers, she eventually became impatient and insistent that we just have sex and be done with it. When I conceded to commence the deed without any further flirtation, she invented an excuse to return to her car (special condoms she forgot to bring inside) and I, naïve as I was, simply bought the story. Naturally, she skipped out on me and I never saw her again—an outcome that I soon decided I was happy with. Although I was disappointed that she had refused to have a genuine experience with me, I was careful to send her a text telling her that I forgave her.

Now that I’ve over-shared a very personal story, I’ll get to the point. My approach to her was foreign to her because she was accustomed to being used. I later judged that this was a scam she liked to play and that she might have also had a boyfriend, which would explain her resistance to my emotional advances (I’m quite charming, and she had already agreed to sex). I also judged that she probably didn’t always get out of the situation without conceding to sex with her client. She seemed quite prepared to do so with me if her escape didn’t fly. Considering the circumstances, I thought it likely that she was especially uneasy about me because she couldn’t find anything to hate about me except possibly the fact that I had hired a prostitute in the first place. It is always easier to stick it to someone you hate or judge morally deserving. I don’t think I gave her anything to work with in that department, so I let her know that I forgave her to hopefully avoid the guilt she would inevitably feel about scamming me.

In any case, I gave her the opportunity to choose between a morally coherent positive experience (what I offered, brief and surprising to her though it was) and either a morally coherent negative experience (a client who uses and abuses her) or what I took to be a morally incoherent experience (a boyfriend who yet helps her take advantage of men through feigned prostitution). The moment she decided to follow through with the scam, despite my intentions, she abandoned me at the altar where we were to commence a very brief marriage. As always, the Groom offers the Bride a reality and she must choose whether she will participate in it or not.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the key to moving from vice to virtue, from imbalance to balance; hence, the personalities most in need of mindfulness are the ones that instantiate unbalanced renditions of the Archetypes.

A person who instantiates the Hopeless Romantic is reaching for mindfulness about her own self-worth. Because she doesn’t think she has value unless she has a Groom, her hunt for one dooms her to a Vicious Marriage. If you discover that you are a Hopeless Romantic, you might take the time to reflect on what it is you hope a Groom will add to your life. If the desire for a Groom is urgent and the alternative (solitude) is misery, then the solitude that you are bringing to yourself through the repeated experience of attracting and then repelling Grooms is a necessary space for meditation on your independence. The Hopeless Romantic sees herself as a Virgin, but does not realize that a Virgin is happy to wait. She does not need a Groom, though when she meets the right one, she will not hesitate. A Hopeless Romantic must mind the time she spends waiting, facing the uncomfortable emotions that arise in solitude so she can fill her waiting with joy rather than misery.

A person who instantiates the Serial Monogamist is reaching for mindfulness about his ability to see value in another person. He is so fixated upon his own unmet needs and the potency of his own desires that he doesn’t have the inner resources to expend upon the needs and desires of another. He sees his Bride as obnoxious and needy because she is always starved for his attention. He is afraid that if he gives her all the attention she wants, he’ll have nothing left for himself. These tendencies are morally negative in their methodology, which is why his expectations for his Bride are so often confirmed. If you discover that you tend toward Serial Monogamy, you might reflect on what you understand yourself to mean when you tell someone you love them. Prince Charming lavishes his affection upon his Bride not because she demands it, but because his desires converge upon her. Each failed relationship offers the opportunity to reflect upon what you really want. Abandonment is often the root the wound that prevents a Serial Monogamist from desiring a devoted relationship with his Bride. A Serial Monogamist does not want to become too attached to his Bride, so he affords her a specific role to keep her at a safe distance, but also to help treat the wound. In order to transmute your experience, you must take the time to sit and listen to your Bride—and your own emotions (the Inner Bride). The Serial Monogamist settles for someone who is good enough, hoping that she won’t change. His greatest fear is that she will change and then decide to leave him. When you feel yourself becoming afraid of change in another or in yourself, pay attention to what you are afraid of losing. After that, reflect on the many times in your life that change brought you something more beautiful than you had ever imagined. The more you choose to trust that change is for the better, the more your inner Serial Monogamist will give way to a Prince Charming.

A person who instantiates the Runaway Bride is reaching for mindfulness about how her choices affect her emotions. She has difficulty discerning between what makes her feel loved and appreciated and what makes her feel used and objectified. Like almost everyone, she sees herself as basically good, and as doing her best to make the world a better place. She follows her feelings—often to surprising places—but she doesn’t understand why life is so hard for her. She believes in following your heart, but can’t make out the difference between following your heart and selling your soul. If you instantiate the Runaway Bride in some way, pay attention to the times when you feel like you are used or unappreciated. Some choice you made led to the circumstances of your feeling unappreciated, so mindfulness when these emotions arise will help you locate what you are doing to cause the feeling. In every case, you’ll find that your willingness to sell some part of yourself for cheap gratification (money, sex, praise, promotion, etc.) led, whether directly or circuitously, to your feeling unappreciated. The more attention you give to these feelings and their causes, the more the Runaway Bride within you will give way to a Virgin.

A person who instantiates the Dutiful Husband is reaching for mindfulness about his ability to stake a claim on his identity. The Dutiful Husband fixates on a Story that does not belong to him, in which the roles that he and his Bride play are not roles that he has chosen. He goes through the motions because he wants to do his duty, but there is no feeling for him, no life breathed into the Marriage. He does what he thinks is right, but still doesn’t understand why he is so unhappy. If you instantiate the Dutiful Husband in some way, pay attention to the difference between the commitments you make and the life you would choose for yourself if you had no responsibilities. We all have responsibilities but they do not have to be soul-crushing burdens. So often, we take onto ourselves far more than we ever wanted—and far more than others would have asked of us if we had not offered. The obligations you commit yourself to do not have to extend any further than the limits of your own desires. It is difficult indeed to trust that in seeking harmony between your desire and your duty you will not become self-absorbed like the Serial Monogamist, but that is precisely what a Dutiful Husband must do. When you find yourself enmeshed in a Story you did not want, spending your energies and giving your attention in ways you would not have chosen if you hadn’t committed, take time to sit with the feeling. The sense of being trapped in your commitments are an opportunity to discover which of the commitments you have made are genuine and which are merely obligatory. Remember that no one wants to be given an obligatory gift. When you give from sincere desire you bless those around you, but when you give out of obligation you curse them with an equal and opposite sense of obligation.

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