White Robed Monks of St. Benedict

Marriage Packet: Introduction

Peace be with you and yours.

Thank you for choosing to confirm your commitment to each other in the Sacrament of Marriage. To aid you in further realizing your commitment to your own selves and to each other, please read all the material contained herein. Please read the following material first alone, either Bride or Groom first—it matters not, then please read it together as a couple. When you have finished as a couple, please complete the Packet Evaluation Form at the end. The White Robed Monks are constantly updating this packet. Your assistance helps us and those who follow you. Thank you.

These articles do not contain any truth or falsity. At best, they contain graphic symbols (i.e., words) printed in black ink on white paper. The thoughts, feelings, beliefs, hopes, remembrances that the graphic symbols may invite you to evoke are neither true nor false as well. At best what you evoke in response or reaction to these graphic symbols are that: thoughts, feelings, beliefs, hopes, remembrances and the like. What do these graphic symbols purport to express? Simplicity, just as water is the essence of simplicity—simply hydrogen and oxygen, the foundation of the ten thousand things. The purpose is to create a more compassionate atmosphere within your marriage and to assist in alleviating suffering that is a natural part of the marriage relationship.

This Marriage Packet has three parts: Part I: Why we Marry: The Merry Dance of Life! (But One View), Part II: Surrendering: Only-Just-Sit (But One Practice), and Part III: The Marriage Relationship: Communication (But One On-going Process). These articles offer you a mirror so that you might sense, hear, or see a reflection of your own being in the moment. Each of us knows directly what is the truth and Truth. We know the truth when we have no question. If we question, then we have created for ourselves a state of uncertainty. When uncertain, we require either more information to make an informed decision or clarity of mind/heart to perceive directly the truth of the matter.

Clarity. Clarity of mind and heart exists when mind and heart are free from delusions (personal beliefs) of power, status, prestige, greed; the illusions (personal perceptions) of hate and the allusions (personal stories)of victimization. With clarity, we know unconditionally what to do or not to do, if either. Water takes the path of least resistance as it flows back to the sea. Water ripples, spirals, stills, waves, drips, cascades, falls, and sprays—very simply and without effort. It only just does what it is doing, if it is doing anything at all. Perhaps it is only just being itself.

In the words of a wise ol' wizard:

Laugh and be merry! Quiet and be still.

May many blessings be to you and yours. Keep on the merry dance of life, twirling and resting when you need or want to . . . Peace and Joy,

The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict

Part I: Why We Marry: The Merry Dance of Life (Only But One View)

A. How It Happens

We sincerely request that you purchase Harville Hendrix's Getting the Love Your Want: A guide for couples and Keeping the Love you Find: A guide for singles. It is from the latter book that the following information has been culled and edited. Page references appear in parenthesis for latter reference.

We all come from dysfunctional families. We are human. Part of the human condition means we are imperfect. "...(T)he dynamics of toxic families differ only in degree from those of a "normal," functional family. The process of wounding is the same. Everyone's troubles are the result of the deprivation of pleasure, the infliction of pain, and the lack of emotional safety; this is the core of the human condition. ... All children are wounded through the failure of their caretakers to meet their needs for reliable attachment, to be allowed to explore the world and return to a safe environment, to be mirrored in their search for identity, to be praised in their efforts to become competent, to be supported as they venture into the world of peers, and in adolescence, to be assisted in integrating their sexuality and entering into adulthood." (116) (Hidden Self + Lost Self + Denied Self = Missing Self)

What happens? "We fall in love—with our Missing Self." (162) In finding what is lacking in ourselves, we create a unit with open boundaries that allows us (the possibility) to express aliveness in all areas. (163) What is the Missing Self, our Shadow? It is a combination of three parts of ourselves. Our Hidden Self is the part of ourselves we "consciously suppressed in the service of living acceptably in the world. We know about it, but other's don't, and we're not telling." (158) Our Lost Self is the part of us we repressed, making up the "prohibited parts of ourselves." (158) Lastly, our Denied Self are those "traits we possess, but deny having—others know, we don't." (159)

As a result, we form a False Self. This is "a constructed new, substitute self that is more in alignment with the wishes of society, a public persona that will get us the love and work and approval that we need in order to survive and that rechannels our energy in approved directions. (160) With our False Self and Denied Self we present to the world a grab bag of tricks, our Social Self. (162) (False Self + Denied Self = Social Self)

You have found in your partner the parts of yourself that you were taught—and unconsciously believed—are dangerous to love. What you love in your partner is what you buried in yourself in order to survive. Enjoy the wrestling with your own Sleeping Beast's awakening in both of you. Do not give into your False Self—possibly terrified of giving up the safety of acceptable—if limited boundaries. "This awakened terror explains why many couples have their first serious fight within 48 hours of their engagement. It is also the source of honeymoon blues—when suddenly the buried frigidity, the rigidity, the hysteria, the dogmatism, and the passivity that has served us so well up to now shows up among the palm trees and in the honeymoon suite." (165)

Remember. It is part of our human condition that "to one degree or another, your partner embodies the denied negative traits you can't live with within yourself, and the positive traits of the Lost Self you can't live without. In other words, there's actually a self- betrayal going on—in projecting your own buried qualities onto another, and then treating them accordingly, you are denying yourself. (168)

"How do we break this impasse? How do we reclaim our lost parts, the good and the bad, and put ourselves back together again? We came back to the same answer: through the long, demanding work of a conscious relationship with (the person you love.) What appears to be nature's dirty trick is actually benevolent: there is as beautiful a symmetry to the healing process, as there is to our wounding.

"They say that breaking up is hard to do, but that is wrong. It is easy to walk away before the going gets tough, to find another dreamboat-until the ship starts sinking again. It's waking up that's hard to do." (168)

B. Becoming Conscious: A Turning Point on the Journey

"One of the most difficult truths about relationships for most couples to accept is that in order to be loved you must first become a lover. You must be willing to grow and change and commit yourself first and foremost to healing your partner. Being the right partner is more important to a good relationship than picking the right partner. (238)

"The hard truth of the matter is that in order to have a healing marriage, we must change and become the kind of person that our partner needs in order to heal. The kind of person your partner will need to finish childhood is someone different from his or her parents. You will need to "parent" your partner's inner child in a way his or her parents did not. In other words, you have to become the parent your partner's parents were not. That will require changing on the part of you that is similar to the negative traits of your partner's parents. ...

"The changes required of us in order to become healing partners for our mates are often the changes that are most difficult for us to make. ... The paradox is: when we give our partner what he or she needs in order to heal his or her wounds, we have to call upon the parts of ourselves that <we have suppressed>. In pushing the limits of our habituated behavior to heal our partner, we heal ourselves, for we reactivate our own evolution toward wholeness. The wondrous part is that when we meet our partner's need, we discover that we have the same need, for we were similarly wounded." (239)

"Consciousness can be painful. It means that you have to become aware of what you don't want to be aware of, and you have to give up an automated self and behave in ways that seem unnatural for you. But to be whole, we must become aware of our Missing Selves, and discard the false veneer we present to the world. We must confess, to ourselves and to our partners, the unpleasant details of our Denied Self, those negative aspects of ourselves that we reject, and integrate them into our self-concept.

"Our partners are mirrors in which we see reflected those parts of ourselves that we disown. They are reflected in our partners' criticisms of the negative ways we treat them, in what we withhold from them, and in what they want from us that we claim does not exist. Their needs call out to our Lost Selves to come back into being. Their pain challenges us to thaw the frozen parts of our character adaptations so that we can recover our original selves—the selves we were before we adapted to become what our parents approved of. (240)

"The process of reclaiming our Lost Selves and re-owning and integrating our Denied Selves can be disorienting, sometimes frightening. To see ourselves stripped bare, without our usual defenses, in the eyes of the person who we count on for survival and happiness is scary indeed. ... The old conflicts are unpleasant, but they are comfortingly familiar—they are what we recognize as love. (241)

C. Commitment to Healing:

  1. Eliminate the blame and criticism. In a word: STOP.
  2. Commit to the relationship and to the process.
  3. Learn new skills and to change negative, unproductive behavior. (Chapter 15). (242)

D. Characteristics of a Conscious Relationship:

  1. The basic principle of a conscious relationship is intentionality. The purpose of their relationship is to heal childhood wounds.
  2. In a conscious relationship, partners exchange unconditional gifts. They target their behavior to meet their partners' needs and heal their wounds, without asking for anything in return.
  3. In a conscious relationship, partners are separate but equal. Dialogue is the core of communication.
  4. In a conscious relationship, there are no exists. When they feel uncomfortable or when their needs are not being met, they bring their concerns to their partners rather than withdrawing from the relationship or getting their needs met outside the relationship.
  5. In a conscious relationship, there is no criticism.
  6. In a conscious relationship, anger is expressed by appointment only.
  7. In a conscious relationship both partners are responsible for and carry all aspects of themselves. They accept responsibility for those parts of themselves of which they are not proud, and learn too manage and integrate them.
  8. In a conscious relationship, each partner calls the other to wholeness.
  9. In a conscious relationship each partner strives toward androgyny. They do not behave or expect their partners to behave in accordance with gender or sexual stereotypes.
  10. In a conscious relationship partners care for others and the world. (245-247)

E. Relationships Consciously Considered

Learning how to relate today involves unlearning many myths and fantasies of yesterday. An essential aspect to unlearning is becoming consciously aware of what now might be the case.

The current literature notes that American society is an addictive society. We do not have to look too far to find evidence of addictions all around us. These addictions do not exist outside the addicts. Being that each of us reflects to some extent our society, it is pretty safe to say that we are all addicts to one degree or another and are addicted to one thing or another. What's ironic about our addictions is that we often are in a state of denial that either we are addicts or that we are addicted to x, y, or z. But addictions are another topic.

Our addictions influence our relationships. As with addictions, relationships do not exist outside of our own selves. How we relate with our own selves is the same as how we relate with another. This interrelating forms a joint, sometimes shared, projection: The Relationship.

There are three types of relationships: dependent or co-dependent, independent, and interdependent. In the first, one or both need the other to be "whole," "complete," "loved," "wanted," or even "human." In the second, one or both act as if neither really wants to be with or around the other, unconsciously resenting the burden of the relationship and whatever this may mean to either.

In the third, both partners are complete, whole, loved, wanted, and human—and feel or experience him or herself as such—before, during, and after the relationship. Two equal partners experience the pleasure of each other's company without needing the other to meet unfulfilled or unmet fanciful childhood needs or desires. Both are adult members of the species, capable of sharing who, what, how, when, where, and why they are now in this moment with the other enjoying the pleasure of the other's company.

F. General Statement about Reality

What's real? For the sake of this discussion, we may posit three notions of reality. First, actual reality is the way things are in and of themselves. For example, a painting is a painting. Second, real reality is the way we think reality is. For example, a painting is beautiful, beauty being in the eye of the beholder. Third, ideal reality is the way we would have things to be in the best possible of all realities. In traditional psychology, it could be said that those of us who escape actual reality by assuming some ideal personality like Jesus Christ or Napoleon are psychotic. Those of us who live life the way we think it is tend to be neurotic. Those of is who live in the actual world tend to be authentic human beings.

The following is offered to you for your reflection. Although the source book was written for Adult Children of Alcoholics, we may apply its content to any of our situations. Some of the points you may find relevant, others not, to your situation. Please remember the human trait of DENIAL. Denial's connotation is:

Don't Even kNow I Am Lying.

Some have said like Shakespeare that to the extent I protest "That's not me!" to same extent "That is me." If you wish to pursue this further, you may purchase Struggle for Intimacy by Janet G. Woititz from your bookstore or from Health Communications, Inc.; 1721 Blount Road, Suite 1; Pompano Beach, Florida 33069. (ISBN# 0-932194-25-7)

G. KEY IDEA: To change your life, you must change the message.

  1. Double-Bind Messages that Don't Work:

  2. Fully Responsible Statements that Work

  3. Real or Ideal and Actual Statements

    "If I am involved with you, I will lose me."
    In the actual world, healthy relationships enhance self and do not absorb it.

    "If you really knew me, you wouldn't care about me."
    You probably aren't as good an actor or actress as you think you are. Your beloved probably already really knows you. And cares about you anyway.

    "If you find out that I am not perfect, you will abandon me."
    Nobody is perfect. And perfection does not exist.

    "We are as one."
    In the actual world, you are you, and I am me. And then there is us.

    "Being vulnerable always has negative results."
    In the actual world, being vulnerable sometimes has negative results and sometimes has positive results. But it is the only route to intimacy.

    "We will never argue or criticize each other."
    In the actual world, couples argue from time-to-time, and are critical of each other's behavior.

    "Anything that goes wrong is my fault. I am a terrible person."
    In the actual world, some things that go wrong you may have caused. Some things are not. Terrible things happen, but you are not terrible.

    "In order to be lovable, I must be happy all the time."
    In the actual world, sometimes people are happy, and sometimes they are not.

    "We will trust each other totally, automatically, and all at once."
    In the actual world, trust builds slowly.

  4. What does trust mean in a relationship?

    "We will do everything together—we will be as one."
    In the actual world, couples spend time together, alone, and with friends.

    "You will instinctively anticipate my every need, desire, and wish."
    In the actual world, if needs, desires, and wishes are not clearly communicated, it is unlikely they will be fulfilled.

    "If I am not in complete control at all times, there will be anarchy."
    In the actual world, one is in charge of one's life and takes control of situations as needed, by conscious decision and agreement. There are also times to share control and times to give up control.

    "If we really love each other, we will stay together forever."
    In the actual world, people stay together and people separate for many reasons. You can love someone and still terminate the relationship.

    "My partner will never take me for granted and will always be supportive and non- critical."
    In the actual world, things do not always go smoothly, but you always have a right to your feelings.

H. Self-Sabotaging Relationship Fear

I. Banal Male/Female Conditioned Habit Communication Patterns:

The Human Condition. Yes, each of us has our own baggage when we enter into a relationship. The more conscious we are of our baggage, the less we need to weigh ourselves down with it. Thus far we have been becoming more aware of the CONTENT of our baggage, our suitcases. The follow diagram shows what happened because of our cultural, social, and familial conditioning up to and including age 5. This information is from "Why Men and Women Can't Talk: New Insights that can move us from blame to understanding," Interview with Deborah Tannen by Peggy Taylor; New Age Journal, December, 1990, 30.

Female Event Male
Network social conversation:
intimacy and community

Hierarchical Social Order

To negotiate closeness and intimacy Conversation To preserve independence
Connection and Intimacy Perspective Relative dominance
To sit and talk together Intimacy/Friendship To do things together
Rejection by not being told Not telling Ills Don't want to worry 'em
I tell you mine, you tell me yours.
:: We are close.
"Trouble talk" Trouble talk is a request for advice,
::This is a solution.
"I want to talk about things."
Talking about my problems
makes me feel better
because by talking I feel connected.
<No more discussion>

"I want your advice."
If I talk about my troubles, I'm
wallowing in them
and thus feel worse.
This is my problem.
I want to talk.
Complaining Ritual

This is how to fix it.
I want to do.
Create intimacy.
Create intimacy.
Talk means to
Talk, Intention of
Talk, Perception
Negotiate status.
Avoid being manipulated.
Do what I want AND
I want you to want to do
what I want
(because that's the way I am).
Unspoken Intention
(Prior to Marriage)

Do what I want AND
I want you to want to do
what I want
(because that's the way I am).
What do we want
to do, have, be?
(because that's the way we are).
Unspoken Intention
(Post Marriage)
"I" becomes "WE"

What do we want
to do, have, be?
(because that's the way we are).

If we act as if the above is "the way I am," we tend to be more REACTIVE. If we act as if the above may be so, and choose how we want to act, we tend to be RESPONSIVE, mindful.

Entry to Part II. Surrendering: Only-Just-Sit (Only But One Practice)

Return to Marriage Packet: Index.

Sacraments and the Sacrament of Marriage: An Overview
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