So I’m reading this book. On the bestseller lists. Been around for 30 some-odd years. Getting the Love you Want: A Guide for Couples. Okay, it’s not what you think. Well, maybe it is, I don’t know. A friend recommended it. Good as far as it goes, but it just doesn’t seem to go far enough. The authors appear to be on to something, but the primal story they are tapping into isn’t primal enough. Authors Hendrix and Hunt, a husband and wife, both Ph.D.’s, are psychologists. They have swallowed Freud whole. They are not hostile to Christianity, and what they say is not even necessarily antithetical to Christianity. But it seems incomplete apart from the Christian story. They postulate that couples run into problems because they unknowingly hit on each other’s childhood wounding. Our competitive culture of winning at all costs doesn’t help. We fight with each other because our unconscious competitiveness is responding to our partner’s weaknesses or differences. But the main thing is the childhood wounding that marriage brings to light again (albeit subliminally). The theory is that we all have etched in our brains a recollection of early connectedness with our parents or caretakers that created a sense of safety and well-being such that we felt connected to the world, to others, and to all of life in a deeply satisfying way. We could be curious and adventuresome and playful. Life was vibrant and full of excitement. And then we experienced various woundings. Our parents were either distant and not connected, or else they were over-protective and kept us from exploring life’s possibilities. The world was not safe on the one hand, and we lost part of the self we might have become on the other. Blah, blah, blah. And here’s the kicker. Romantic love (according to this book) is triggered in us by someone who reminds us (again subconsciously) of our parents and some of their negative characteristics that resulted in our woundedness. We deeply long to resolve those hurts, and so a lover affords us the chance to revisit the old wounds and seek their healing. Moreover, the person we find ourselves falling for also has characteristics that we never got to develop in ourselves – opposite traits that represent part of the us we might have become if our parents hadn’t interfered. Romantic love is great. We experience the joy of that infantile connectedness with the world again. Everything is bright and beautiful. Energy and creativity levels are up. We just didn’t realize we fell in love with our parents or our lost selves. But when those parental similarities from whence sprang our hurts rear their heads, the flare-ups, the pain, the fighting begins. Ding-ding-ding. Go to your corners and suck your thumbs now. Welcome to the realities of marriage, compliments of your brain’s shenanigans. So as I’m reading, I’m thinking, “Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe they are on to something, but they aren’t going far enough, deep enough.” Parental love is primal. Romantic love is a thing. But isn’t there a greater Love that is even more primary, ancient, profound? What about God’s love and the original Connectedness that mankind had with Him. What about that? Isn’t that what we are all trying to get back to? Doesn’t the lesser analogous loves of parents and lovers stir that up? My partner can’t heal that ancient wound. Only God in Christ can. The healing of all harms cannot be complete until our connection to God is restored in full.
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