Friday, April 15, 2011

Embrace the Tension of Opposites

At the end of our marriage counseling session today, our counselor gave us a pearl!

Mostly we talked about how to handle the times when we have strongly different opinions on something that requires action. These are the times of our worst arguments, the times when both of us start thinking about leaving our marriage. How can we have our differences and come to a resolution without resentments, anger and hurt?

We had discussed a recent episode between us, what we did that worked, how we might have done some things differently. We had talked about approaching differences as a team, a team with solid affiliation working together to solve a problem.

Then at the very end, reaching out her two hands, palms up, hands cupped as though holding something, she told us to embrace our differences, to hold onto the tension of our polarities because out of them can come a new place, a new, transcendent thought or solution born of our opposing differences.

Her suggestion, a practical application of Carl Jung's transcendent function, seems like an important key for us. I think we've always tried to get rid of the opposition, to destroy one or the other position as soon as possible. In the destruction of one of the positions, the other takes over, the holder becoming the winner, the other the resentful and angry looser.

So the way I understand her words is that if we can hold the tension, allow it the freedom to exist, shuffle back and forth between the opposites for long enough, we'll transcend both positions in favor of creating a new and jointly acceptable position. I wonder, did Jung really get it? Worth a try!

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Gratitude for the day: spring rain, good counselors, a call from my dearest friend, walking with the pups during a sun-break, health, bumble bees, blooming hellebore


  1. This reminds me of the cliche that when we are first with some one we appreciate their differences and quirks and are often attracted to them because of it. But over time those very same things are what frustrate us no end!

  2. Yes - I think Jung got it - in fact he was very close to being Enlightened! Just my opinion.
    And perhaps he was talking about not just the physical.... I read his stuff as being very metaphysical as it works on many levels.
    About the attraction - maybe we see (in others) what we see in ourselves..... but have projected the meaning outwards... maybe we react to others because we know we have the same issues ourselves.....
    maybe not always in form, but definitely in content!

    Or maybe my concussion is acting up again!!!
    Glad things are going well, PB!

  3. I have to agree with Anne...I think Jung got it too! and Big Puppy and I are opposites and we have learned..well actually still learning but if you take Anne's comment about attraction (which I also BELIEVE in) we draw people toward us at the same point of pain..and within each person is either a quality we desire to have or not like so much about ourselves. If you can look at it as a gift ... say thank you for being opposite but thank you for helping US grow!

  4. When I read your post, I immediately remembered a fascinating chapter I read in Stephen Covey's book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People".

    He calls it the Win/Win principle, and says it works on a foundation of trust within a relationship. It's like what your counselor said... no one loses, you come to a 3rd position, wherein both sides benefit and are happy.

    Anyway, it's wonderful that you are both willing to work on it. That in itself is something that makes me smile.


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