RELIGIOUS “REALITY” IN LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS

In the religious approach to “truth,” the priest makes a prediction – “worship my God and your harvest will be good” – and then invents “sinners” to take the blame if his prediction fails to materialize. In this way, the possibility of disproof – of personal responsibility for the priest – is eliminated.

All too often this is our default position in relationships as well. We enter into relationships based on our predictions of how they will turn out. Who but a masochist would continue dating a woman if he
knew for certain she would break his heart within six months? Would you marry a woman and have children with her if you knew that she would divorce you and take you for everything you had?
Of course not.

We make predictions about relationships – and then, when those predictions fail to come true, we invent “sinners” to take the blame.

We embark upon our relationships with the highest hopes and ambitions and then, when they crash in flames or peter out into nothing, we begin mythologizing the reasons why.


Compared to medieval priests, we are often more sophisticated in our defences nowadays. We provide quasi-enlightened reasons as to why our relationships fail, which on the surface seem to contain some aspects of personal responsibility, but which are really the same old mythologies
dressed up in new psychological garb.

For instance, if my marriage fails because I work too hard and ignore my wife and children, I may openly confess that I worked too hard – but then, inevitably, self-pitying justifications will creep into my explanation…

“My wife left me because I worked most Saturdays and spent two or three days a week on the road. I definitely should have spent more time at home, but then of course she really liked the vacations on the French Riviera, and the children apparently really needed their ski lessons, and she did install that kiln in our basement for her pottery. I should have put my foot down earlier and forced her to make a decision, and not just let her desire for more and more stuff keep driving me back to the office!”

Implicit in this kind of mealy-mouthed “explanation” is the basic premise that, “My wife is a greedy materialist who wanted to have her cake and eat it too. She wanted all this great stuff, she wanted all the status that came with the big house and a nice car, but she also wanted me to be home to take care of her as well!”

You often hear the same complaint with regards to sex. For instance, a man may say:
“I’m not allowed to have an affair, because I am married – yet my wife refuses to have sex with me, so I’m totally stuck. She holds a monopoly veto on our sex life, which she uses constantly – yet I am not allowed to look outside the marriage for sex!”

Wives have similar complaints about their husbands:
“He says that he wants to help me around the house, but then he does everything so badly that I am forced to run around fixing everything up after him, so that it turns out to be more work than it’s worth!”

Or:
“He always complains that I nag him too much, but I wouldn’t have to repeat myself if he only listened to me in the first place! If he just took the garbage out when I asked him to, I wouldn’t have to keep asking him!”

Or:
“He thinks that having sex will make us close. I keep telling him that I can only have sex with him if I feel close already. That just makes him angry – and then he expects me to want to have sex with him because he’ll get pouty if I don’t!”


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