Issue 104 –
Where Has Love Gone: Part 9
The Patriarchal Heritage and
Money in Bonding Patterns
Hal & Sidra Stone
Cindy and Ron are a very wealthy couple who have been married for over twenty years. The relationship is one of strong bonding patterns with very little awareness. He controls the money; she is the daughter to his patriarchal father in this and in many other matters.
On the other side, she is very much devoted to him and cares for him unstintingly from the mother selves. There is some awareness of these patterns that exist between them, but it is minimal.
Cindy’s daughter, Ann, is a strong feminist, and she resents her mother’s “daughter” role with her father. The women are out shopping for antiques one day and a very attractive salesman begins to flirt with Cindy. Ann enjoys this immensely. Eventually Cindy finds a beautiful antique that she would like to buy but that costs in the neighborhood of twelve hundred dollars. She feels, however, that she cannot buy this without her husband’s permission and authority.
Ron, on the other hand, would not hesitate to spend any amount of money on anything he might want, and it would never occur to him to ask Cindy’s permission. Ann is very annoyed with her mother because of her passivity and her seeming dependence on Ron.
When they return home, Cindy tells Ron about the antique she wants to buy. Ann, however, tells him about the salesman and how he flirted with her mother. Ron goes into a very impersonal mode and comments in a rather withdrawn manner that, in order to buy the antique, he would have to sell some stock. He insinuates that this is a bad time to do so. This hooks Cindy immediately and she says: “Oh no-you don’t have to do that. It really isn’t that important!” This settles the purchase of the antique. It does not settle Ann’s anger toward her mother and father and what she perceives as his patriarchal dominance.
The good daughter in Cindy is a powerful self and determines a great many of her personal interactions. It is quite easy to see that Ann became an ardent feminist so that she would never become a “good daughter” like her mother. Interestingly enough, both Ann and Cindy are strongly identified with daughter selves. Cindy is identified with the good daughter and Ann is identified with the rebellious daughter. Whether good or rebellious, both are daughters and each role constitutes an imprisonment in that they are both in constant reaction to the father side of Ron.
The bonding patterns in Ron are interesting to explore in this situation. From the beginning of the interaction he was clearly in the father self. His wife was playing the good and pleasing daughter and his real daughter was playing out her rebellion to what she perceived as his patriarchal and dominating nature.
She gets back at him when she describes the way the salesman was flirting with her mother. Ann knows at some level he is sensitive to this kind of thing, and the rebellious daughter in her will do anything to bring about his downfall. His response to the situation is that he will have to sell some stocks in order to purchase the antique piece.
It is the response of a controlling father and a manipulating son. He has also withdrawn into an impersonal self (which can be a facet of the controlling father). Objectively speaking, what he says is patently ridiculous; he would spend ten thousand dollars on something that he wanted, without batting an eye. In fact, his feelings were hurt and his vulnerability was threatened when he heard about the flirtation.
Ron is very cut off from the child within himself, however. When a man’s feelings are hurt and when he is not aware that they are hurt, the man goes into the father/power side to balance the equation. The withdrawn father takes over and, underneath it, is a hurt child. Ron’s withdrawn father soon becomes controlling father, since this is his general way of dealing with any situation that threatens his vulnerability.
The issue is not whether or not Cindy buys the antique. She has an opportunity in a situation like this to separate from a behavior pattern that has been with her all her life. She was the good and pleasing daughter to her parents, and this was then transferred to her husband. The problem was that she never felt like a real person. How could she, when she lives her life as a daughter to everyone? Interactions like this one with Ron create a golden opportunity for her to become aware of, and to separate from, these patterns, to begin to feel like a responsible and fully functioning adult. The issue is not whether she buys or does not buy. The issue is, who is it that buys or doesn’t buy? What self is in the driver’s seat?
From Ron’s side, an equally important opportunity becomes available. He has always been the responsible father, very much the patriarch and very much cut off from any relationship to his vulnerability. It gets taken care of at an unconscious level by Cindy, but never has he been able to admit his own feelings of weakness, vulnerability, and fear and to make these a part of the relationship.
Never has he been able to relax and allow someone else to take the responsibility of caring for him. How different a relationship it would be if his own neediness were conscious and expressed! How different a relationship it would be if he were not always the knower and the one who had the final say in things.