Joseph Campbell on Marriage
Joseph Campbell said: “Marriage is not a love affair. But a marriage is a life commitment, and a life commitment means the prime concern of your life. If marriage is not the prime concern, you are not married.”
Campbell points to us that marriage cannot be kept forever as a love affair. Generally, a marriage that starts with a fiery episode: love at first sight. The couple is hit by Cupid´s arrows. This kind of love may lead to marriage, and the high rate of divorce we see happening in our Western Civilization. As a result, so many broken families with the small children in the weakest position.
This kind of passionate love does not guarantee a stable marriage. Why not?
The Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes says in a sonnet:
Sonnet of Fidelity by Vinicius de Moraes
- Above all, to my love I’ll be attentive
- First and always, with care and so much
- That even when facing the greatest enchantment
- By love be more enchanted my thought
- I want to live it through in each vain moment
- And in its honor I’ll spread my song
- And laugh my laughter and cry my tears
- When you are sad or when you are content.
- And thus, when later comes looking for me
- Who knows, the death, anxiety of the living,
- Who knows, the loneliness, end of all lovers
- I’ll be able to say to myself of the love (I had):
- Be not immortal, since it is flame
- But be infinite while it lasts.
. Eros (Cupid) hits Romeo and Juliet, the most famous lovers in international literature, with his arrows. Heaven opens up for the two lovers That is how love starts. That is how we arrive in heaven. But, as pointed by the poet, it(love) is not immortal since it is a flame, although infinite while it lasts. And this kind of love will not last as the poet knew after eight wives and many lovers.
Shakespeare was wise to kill the lovers at the conclusion of his play. If this couple lived in our XXI century, with the facilities of divorce, who can guarantee that they would stay together? After all, love is a flame.
Why do two persons hit by Cupid´s arrows may separate? Jung explains. Men have, inside their psyche, an archetype – the Anima. Women have another – the Animus. When you project the Anima (or Animus) on your lover, you are projecting a god. No human being can sustain such a projection for long. Dante did project his Anima on Beatrice, his muse, but he saw her only twice and never talked to her. The surge of romantic love is a projection. This projection is broken with everyday co-existence. Then, you understand your partner is not a god, but a mortal human being with qualities and defects.
A wedding usually starts with a projection of Anima/Animus, but only lasts if, after the infatuation, the couple develops friendship and respect that gives them joy in living together. A marriage is never perfect, but, if the advantages are superior to the disadvantages and one partner is not stricken by another Eros’ arrow and tries a different relationship, may last till death separates them. For this to happen, both have a clear view of the advantages of a relationship based, not of fiery love, but of respect and friendship, since fire extinguish with time.
I am Roberto Lima Netto, author of The Jungian Bible, which presents Jung’s concepts to the layman exemplifying them with stories from the Bible. I also wrote The Little Prince for Grownups, The Amazon Shaman, In Search of Happiness and others, offered by Amazon.