Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fusion Fantasy - Vampire Love

"Why does a woman spend ten years trying to change her husband and then complain, 'You're not the man I married!" Barbra Streisand

Fused people are controlled by their 'connection', an intense single mindedness in which they have given up their separate identities to become part of an undifferentiated oneness. At first glance is almost sounds biblical.....and the two shall become one flesh.

But, as illustrated in the blood soaked cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, we see a much more graphic and accurate portrayal of the tenacious nature of emotional fusion. We could define this as an invisible field of attraction, an almost demonic connection where boundaries are blurred and individuality is destroyed.

As sex therapist David Schnarch reminds us, "Giving up individuality (self) to be together is as defeating in the long run as giving up your relationship to maintain your individuality. Either way you end up being less of a person with less of a relationship."

All over the world marriages face the same common problem - maintaining the relationship while being true to self....or stated another way, fulfilling our dual needs for togetherness and separateness, and somehow balancing these two fundamental life forces.

Differentiation, as defined by Schnarch in his book Passionate Marriage, describes a healthy process where we maintain the ability to be our self even while we are emotionally and physically close to others - especially as they become increasingly important in our lives.

He goes on to remind us that well differentiated people can agree without feeling like they are 'losing themselves' and can disagree without feeling alienated and embittered. In other words, they can stay connected with people who disagree with them and still know who they are. They don't have to flee the relationship to hold onto themselves.

We can understand differentiation as the ability to stay in touch (connected) without being all consumed by other people. Unlike the entangled menage a trois of vampire love, our urge for togetherness and our capacity to care, requires us to be emotionally distinct people if we are to have true interdependence and mutuality.

An unhealthy entanglement results in people whose identity is primarily dependent upon their relationship. They are unable to facilitate the development of those they love and they ultimately lose their true identity when significant others do change.

Schnarch calls this 'borrowed functioning' when our pseudo self is artificially inflated and pumped up through emotional fusion, resulting in poorly differentiated people clinging to each other. This contributes to domestic violence and bloodshed - think vampires, or O.J., Tanya Harding and John and Lorena Bobbitt.

In reality our sexuality is about who we have been, where we have come from and now becoming the person we can and want to be. And the good news is that we can begin working on resolving the past in the present by focusing on what's currently happening in our relationships.

Healthy relationships are all about resilience rather than damage, healing rather than old wounds and potential rather than trauma. Becoming is always a process of growth, and doing what we aspire to be, we become that person. The good news is we get to decide. We can actually live our way to a new way of thinking and relating to those we love.

Hang on tight, because nobody's ready for the challenges of marriage.....marriage makes you ready for marriage.

Enjoy the challenge,

Highlights by O'Steven from Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch

1 comment:

  1. What an irony! The True Blood co-stars (on the right) Anna Paquin (28) and Stephen Moyer (40) actually got married in Malibu on Saturday. They will need plenty of marriage counseling to coach them on 'fusion' issues I'm sure.