Issue 99 –
Where Has Love Gone: Part 4
Love is Not Enough
Hal & Sidra Stone
It is sometimes awesome to observe the power that characteristic bonding patterns exert over our lives when we are unable to bring some awareness to them and to separate from them.
Andrea was married to Antonio, a domineering, South American man who was identified with a macho image of being a man, and who kept her in a the role of a subservient housewife. Her mother, too, had been subservient, and at some point in her marriage, Andrea decided that this was no longer acceptable. So she left Antonio and got herself a job as a home secretary to a very successful older professional woman who happened to be lesbian.
Andrea, a sensual and very attractive woman, soon made herself indispensable to Joan and eventually moved in with her, assuming even more caretaking duties. Before long, they became lovers, with Joan, in her controlling mother self, telling Andrea that she did not believe in monogamous relationships.
As the relationship grew in intensity, Andrea’s primary self re-emerged to protect her vulnerability. Andrea became the dutiful housewife to Joan’s successful businesswoman. The initial phases of the bonding were idyllic. Joan, who had disowned her own housewifely nature, had a home that was beautiful but cold. It was like an extension of her office. She did nothing to take care of or nurture herself. With Andrea there, Joan was cared for as never before in her life. Her house was a home, her clothes were kept in order for her, her car was fixed, there was always good food. Andrea even brought Joan a freshly cooked lunch to the office each day.
Her vulnerable child was ecstatic and Joan often remarked, “I’ve never been so well taken care of in my entire life.” Andrea, in turn, would say, “Nobody has ever known how to care for you. I really know you and I can make you happy. I don’t want to work, I don’t want fame, I just want to stay home and take care of you.” As a result of her overwhelming gratitude, Joan promised Andrea that she would always support her both emotionally and financially.
But, as so often happens in these idyllic positive bondings, Joan started to feel stifled and a bit restless, as though she were missing something. In actuality, she was missing something. No matter how loving we are, and Andrea was certainly loving, when we are relating to one another from only a single self, as Andrea was relating to Joan essentially from her nurturing mother, there is something missing – the rest of the person is missing.
Joan began to feel stifled by the bonding pattern, but she did not know that she, too, was a part of the dance. All she knew was that she was being smothered and that she needed Andrea to move out of the role of full – time housewife. She encouraged Andrea to spend time outside of the house and to develop new interests. She even encouraged her to have a girlfriend.
Although Joan did not exactly know why she was encouraging this, she was, in essence, trying to break the bonding.
Joan’s behavior made Andrea even more vulnerable, so she intensified her efforts to be nurturing. She became intensely jealous of Joan’s involvement at the office and of her affairs. She told Joan that she needed her at home more often so that she could care for her better.
Finally, when none of this worked, Andrea got herself a girlfriend to make Joan jealous. At first, Joan was relieved; now she was no longer the sole recipient of Andrea’s attention. But when the new girlfriend started to send Andrea roses every day, Joan found, much to her surprise, that she was jealous. As she said, “It just doesn’t go with my belief in freedom to be jealous like this. I’m really surprised.”
Despite this jealousy, Joan was not ready to settle down into a bonded monogamy with Andrea’s nurturing, self sacrificing mother, as Andrea wished. She continued to push Andrea to grow beyond the confines of the bonding pattern.
Joan, however, did not learn from the relationship either. She did not use this as a chance to develop an awareness of her own fairly extreme denial of vulnerability and her own role in the bonding pattern. Instead, she continued to disown her jealousy and posessiveness (although she had fleetingly admitted these to her therapist), her vulnerability, and her own nurturing mother.
Andrea, in turn, continued to disown her power, her businesswoman, and her independent, outgoing woman of the world. In a most fascinating turn of events, Andrea returned to her husband where she could comfortably resume her role of hurt daughter/self sacrificing mother to Antonio’s demanding, unappreciative father/needy son. In this way, she continued to remain fully identified with her role as the self-sacrificing, nurturing mother and abused daughter.
Joan, needless to say, was horrified and pointed out that Andrea was going right back to where she had come from. Joan never did realize that Andrea had lived the same bonding pattern in their relationship. Andrea had been the hurt daughter to Joan’s controlling mother and the self-sacrificing mother to Joan’s essentially disowned needy daughter.