Issue 103 –
Where Has Love Gone: Part 8
Money and Who Controls It: Another Natural for Bonding
Hal & Sidra Stone
Money, and how it is used in relationships, is another major focus for bonding patterns. Our cultural conditioning has created certain stereotyped sex roles for men and women in terms of the way money is used in a relationship.
Historically, the man was in charge of the finances and the woman took care of the home with the money that he gave her. It was certainly not a partnership. Today things are amazingly complex because of the new role of women in society, because of broken homes and second marriages, and because of the desire of many couples to meet the whole issue of money in a new way.
Let us look at a few examples of bonding patterns that are connected to money and the way it is used.
Don and Risa were spending a pleasant Saturday afternoon together strolling around a lovely shopping area near their home. They passed a Porsche dealer and went inside to look at a car with a price tag of over $40,000. They left after a time and went on walking, but Don was hooked, and, after a while, he said to Risa, “Gee, I sure would like to have a Porsche.” In the way they relate to money, Don is the spender, or the one who wants to spend, and Risa is the one who is always setting limits. They have created a natural bonding of mother I son in this respect.
We may safely assume that the voice in Don that said “I want a Porsche” was, in fact, his needy son who always wants things. Risa was immediately, as always, thrown into mother. From her standpoint, not only did she always have to set limits, but she also had the humiliation of not having any real voice in how the money was spent because it was his money.
This is a very common phenomenon in primary relationship, and, when it exists, it automatically throws the woman into a daughter position, with very deep resentment operating in her at some level.
Risa contracted into her mother self and said from thatself: “Here we go again. We owe over ten thousand dollars on the car we have and now you’re talking about buying a Porsche.” There was a sting to the voice, for in this mother self, she was on the attack. All of her anger and resentment at not having control of the money was filtering through her reactions.
If we were to dig down to her real feelings, we would discover that her real reaction to Don’s statement was one of vulnerability and fear. They were short of money for a variety of different reasons and one of these was his profligate spending. She hated feeling the insecurity of financial deficit but could not communicate her feelings of fear and vulnerability.
If she could, they would sound something like this:” You know, Don, it really scares me when you say that, even though I know you’re not ready to buy the car. I really get frightened about money.” These feelings were not available to her, so instead, she slid into a natural mother bonding in reaction to the fear and she became the attacking mother. This is an amazingly frequent pattern in primary relationship.
Don naturally rose to the bait. That is what is so much fun about bonding patterns. They are so deliciously predictable, unless they happen to be your own. Don had started off in the needy son and then he shifted into the more defensive son. He said to her: “Oh I don’t know. If we sold our car privately I’ll bet we could work out a deal where our payments might be maybe twice what they are now. Besides, it’s a good tax writeoff.”
Risa escalated very quickly and brought in her resentments about the whole way that money was handled between them. She said, with considerable anger: “Just do what you goddam please! It’s your money anyhow!” Don’s feelings were, of course, hurt by this, but he waslong past knowing this and leapt into the angry and punitive father, telling her that she should mind her own goddam business and that he would do exactly as he wished with his money.
War was officially declared, and the full impact of the bonding hit home for both of them. To complete the drama, that night he wanted to make love and that, of course, was the farthest thing from Risa’s mind and body.
Negative bondings make us feel bruised and injured and, until we separate from them, we are not likely to achieve a good sexual connection. Don went on the offensive but underneath was his vulnerable child feeling quite abandoned and needy because Risa had withdrawn from him.
This feeling of neediness on the part of the vulnerable child, when unconscious, often translates itself into sexual desire. From Risa’s position, sex was unthinkable. Don went into yet a deeper rage, telling her that she was frigid and that she should see a psychiatrist, and that he did not know how much longer he would put up with her “crap.” The fact that they had made love the two previous evenings was quite beside the point.
These negative bondings cause reason to be thrown out the window. They are very difficult and very sad, and yet the way out of them is clearly mapped once we begin to see the nature of the bonding and the disowned selves that are connected to them.
To step out of the bonding dance and to learn from it requires several different steps on the part of Don and Risa.
First of all, both need an awareness level that can witness what is happening. An awareness level could help Don to witness the rage and vitriolic anger he has fallen into once again, for it is a pattern that has repeated itself over and over again in their relationship and in the marriages that had preceded this one.
Don also needs to begin to see the way that he sets Risa up in these situations. To do this he would have to become aware of his manipulative son and his disowned business person. So long as he disowns his inner business person or fiscal conservative, Risa has to carry this for him. If he had his business person available, he wouldn’t be seduced by the Porsche in the first place. He would be able to evaluate the finances and not make her responsible for his own fiscal conservative.
Risa, from her side, has no idea of how she constantly falls into the fiscal conservative and the contracted mother. The voice in him that is always wanting things consistently hooks into her mother self. From this place she has no connection to her vulnerability and fear as we have pointed out before, and so the interaction between them remains in this bonded state.
Where has love gone? It has disappeared and in its place is grief! The amazing thing is that when the awareness level kicks in and when people begin to catch hold of their disowned selves and see how the other person is carrying them, the feelings of love can be restored. There is no guarantee that a relationship is forever.
When people begin to separate from bonding patterns, relationships usually either improve dramatically or they end. However, if the relationship does end, it ends in a very different way because both people have gone through major changes. The ending is a natural part of their developmental sequence.
Every primary relationship needs a psychological divorce. By a psychological divorce, we mean the ability of an aware ego to disengage from the bonding patterns. At one point in our own relationship Hal had the following dream:
I’m getting a divorce from Sidra. The judge asks me: “Why are you getting a divorce?” I answer him: “Because we’re so much in love!”
In relationship, we need love and we need a consciousness process; Both are essential. Separating from the bonding patterns supports a different kind of love, and that new kind of love, in turn, supports the desire to separate from the bonding patterns.