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THE LOVE PYRAMID – Mini Course From The Fulfillment Forum
Certainly we have found nothing that even remotely takes the place of love in our lives and our relationships with each other, our children, their children and their children’s kids. With love, virtually everything falls into place. Without love, nothing fits well into the mosaic of a meaningful life.
Also, after everything else you can say about humans — after discussing the personality patterns, life-themes, values, attitudes and expectations we write about, we agree with psychological great — Carl Rogers and with John the Beloved Disciple. There are only two kinds of people in the world. The two are not black and white, rich and poor or even male and female, as much as we appreciate that last arrangement that seems especially created for our benefit.
There are only persons who are capable of loving others and persons who do not love anyone except those who in one way or another contribute something of value to themselves.
A vital factor we must discuss in the beginning is that while the love and sexual intimacy a couple shares is vital to satisfaction, the physical attractions of our youthful years are never enough to carry a man and woman through a life-time. In our FULFILLMENT course, a companion program to this, we have written extensively about existential frustration and alienation that occurs when men and women fail to find a consistent sense of purpose in their lives. We cannot even find happiness by seeking it — happiness is a fleeting by-product of living a consistently meaningful life. Like sleep during a restless night, the harder we pursue happiness, the faster it flees from us. When we spend our years seeking happiness through pleasure, possessions, prestige and power — lacking a sense of purpose in our activities and permanence in our relationships, life remains secular and pointless and becomes conflicted with confusion and discouragement. And that is simply too much to expect the sexual relationship of a man and woman to overcome. Humans need more — we believe that each person requires the crucial support that comes from living a complete life — that occurs through:
Worshipping devoutly, relating warmly, serving faithfully, learning wisely, persevering bravely and playing enthusiastically.
Unless we develop mature attitudes and high expectations, no marriage can succeed. Most young couples who divorce and put their children under great stress simply abandon their marriages much too soon. There is a great deal to be said for toughing it out through the learning curve, for becoming better partners rather than shopping around for some wonderful and perfect lover who will cater to your every whim. You shall have to become a spiritually maturing person to whom your partner can relate in love and friendship, without becoming your stooge. Hang on until both lovers become more mature along lifes’ journey. Actually, in marriage as in most of life, much satisfaction comes from showing up when needed, just being there on time for the people who love you.
A loving couple that matures in faith, hope and love, through grace within the physical, psychological and philosophical aspects of life, will love far more deeply than they did during the simplistic and usually naive sexual urges of youth.
THE LOVE PYRAMID
To be at its best, love must mature up through the motivational pyramid shown here. To stop in one of the lower tiers is to limit the joy a person can enjoy in a lasting relationship.
Becoming *** PHILOSOPHICAL *** Purpose/Permanence
Doing *** PSYCHOLOGICAL *** Power/Prestige
Having *** PHYSICAL *** Pleasure/Pain
PHYSICAL LOVE — (Pleasure/Pain)
Love that is limited to the physical aspects of a relationship is focused largely on arousal, passion and tension release. It makes little difference who the partner is. Any compliant body can be used, for the person is secondary to the pleasure being received by the user. Such physical passion can be shifted from one sexual supplier to another with little or no regret or concern, from one seduction to the next, as Joe Namath boasted when he slept with a thousand women in his first few years of playing professional football. Such a person can go from one prostitute to another, from one singles bar to the next, from a tryst with one lover to a new one. One night stands, sexual fantasies, pornographic movies and books and wily seductions occur within the physical aspects of love. When one person is used for another’s pleasure, even if both agree in advance, it is little more than mutual masturbation. If the other person is abused or damaged in the relationship, he or she can be discarded and replaced with no more regret than for a piece of malfunctioning machinery. Many adolescents, in the first wild rush of sexuality, relate to one another at this primitive level. Unfortunately, many adults fail to mature beyond it. They continue romancing, marrying, divorcing and romancing again in a madcap search for a perfect partner, chasing the wild excitement of youth in a stage that needs a lot more stability in order to be satisfying.
Only this morning as this chapter is being written, we attended the funeral of a friend who made a great deal of money through his knowledge and energy. Donald Knopf was as hard a worker as we’ve ever known, not only for himself but for the poor and needy of the community. He gave an enormous amount of time and money to helping people with problems. Nevertheless, as his friends and relatives filled the front pews, we’ve never seen such a complex mix of brothers and sisters, half sisters and brothers, cousins, in-laws and former wives in our lives. At the age of fifty-five Don was still falling in and out of love like a teenager, still drifting from one woman to the next, giving her several children before falling out of love and seeking a better partner. He never did think in terms of becoming a better husband and father rather than wanting a perfect lover who would let him feel the sexual excitement of youth again. He never matured into the second and third tier of a loving relationship and if he enjoyed a long succession of sexual partners, his dozen children from several families have had a difficult time growing up without a father.
PSYCHOLOGICAL LOVE — (Power/Prestige)
In this aspect of a relationship, physical arousal, pleasure and satiation occurs as in the physical but the affection doesn’t stop there. This is a deeper relationship that binds lovers together as they mature through the more complex needs and activities of adult love. The lovers not only desire one another for what each offers, but both have a deeper investment in the other’s health and happiness. They trust each other with their egos, because loving another person makes you vulnerable as well as calling up protective feelings. This is the level at which many good marriages and love affairs function, especially in the more mellow middle years and while the lovers do care deeply about each other, they may still have difficult times. After all, while you and your lover love each other, differences of opinion and a variety of needs remain. Few couples never quarrel just because they love one another. Jard knew two young people who lived together as lovers without making the final commitment of marriage. Mildred was a graduate student in psychology and Henry an executive in a huge corporation. She said, when she was being offered a teaching and research job in a distant university:
I love Harry, I really do, but he cannot leave town with me. Changing companies now would cost him a vice-presidency at 3 M and I cannot ask for that. But then, I cannot see that my research and teaching about childhood learning is any less importance to society than selling glue and sandpaper. If I insisted he come to Columbus, he’s soon resent me and If I turned down my offer there to stay here with him, I’d soon feel I’d given up too much after having worked so hard for my doctorate. I have to be true to my own vision of a fulfilling life.
Millie and Harry flew back and forth for a year or so but eventually drifted apart and met and married other lovers. Perhaps it was just as well they found someone else, for their careers meant more to them when they separated than the relationship.
PHILOSOPHICAL LOVE — (Purpose/Permanence)
This third aspect of love includes the passion from the physical and the sense of belonging from the psychological as it continues to include crucial spiritual elements of a lasting love relationship. The lovers have matured beyond the limitations of psychological games that cause pain to become tender and compassionate. They live with a lasting sense of purpose and permanence in the affair for they know they belong together for life. The lovers support each other against all attackers; see the relationship as being spiritual and having mystical overtones. There is neither a desire to find a substitute sexual partner nor a determination to play a dominance game through which the lover is manipulated and used. Such a love affair has taken on a lovely patina of faith, hope and love as well as grace, a glow that is shared in mutual satisfaction. The development of love at this level takes time, although for many it comes long before the later stages of one’s life. The whirling of two eccentric personalities around different centers of gravity sooner or later abraid a loving fit although for some time it may include considerable smoke and flying sparks!
To best focus your love in the philosophical aspects of life, mature as a person and behave as a loving soul:
BECOME WARM AND ACCEPTING OF YOUR LOVER — Perceive the other as a viable and independent personality rather than as a second rate appendage to yourself.
BECOME ENCOURAGING AND SUPPORTIVE OF KEY CHOICES — Help your lover become more and more knowledgeable and wise about life’s opportunities.
BECOME TOLERANT OF LIFE’S INEVITABLE GROWTH FRICTION — No two persons ever mature at the same rate – one will grow, causing tension and only later will the other catch up.
It’s common for psychologists and counselors to recommend we accept the people we love for what they are. However, that isn’t good enough for by accepting them as they already are, we may be condemning them to mediocrity. We must accept the persons we help for what they have the potential to become. Don’t nag, of course, but help others mature consistently through the channels of fulfillment. Your spouse, your children and your friends and relatives deserve this of you.
Always accept the fact that you can control only one half of a relationship, your half, while your lover controls his or her half. Trying to control another adult’s half is a quick step to a relationship disaster for no individual worthy of love and respect will let a neurotic control freak dominate themselves, their children and their choices.
The only way two lovers can agree all the time is when one them stops thinking.
The only way to keep an accepting lover is to become an accepting lover.
The fact that we disagree and occasionally quarrel doesn’t mean we are not in love.
Two people in the very elastic harness of marriage seldom mature at the same rate and that spells trouble in many relationships. A woman who’s been a secretary for twenty years and comes home one evening to announce she’s been accepted in a law school program is rocking her family’s boat. So is the middle manager who informs his kids, attending an exclusive and expensive private school, that he’s taking a year off work to write a novel, that they’ll have to attend a public school and stop buying designer clothes.
Growth friction can be compared to movement between the earth’s great tectonic plates. The silent, hidden movement can be so slow as to remain invisible for a long time although stresses keep building. Finally, the pressures become greater than the resistance and the landscape lurches into motion as an earthquake. Sometimes windows are broken and crockery smashed. Some long-standing buildings cannot take the strain and they collapse. Just as many marriages do when the relationship cannot stand the changes occurring in them because the lovers mature at different speeds and in different directions.
PROJECT ONE — LOVE LEVEL IDENTIFICATION
To discover the level of your love for another person, physical, psychological or philosophical, in the pleasure/pain, power/prestige or purpose/permanence aspects of existence, complete this project.
FIRST — Relax comfortably in a chair or on a bed.
Visualize in your mind the image of the person you now love or most recently loved in an adult relationship. Think of the reasons you loved this person, recall his or her good points in the physical, psychological and philosophical aspects of life. Fix the image of that lover firmly in your mind.
SECOND — Accept the fact or a terrible tragedy.
Through an automobile accident or an unexpected illness, your lover dies suddenly. He or she is gone – there’s no doubt about it. You are left alone. Accept your loss, mourn it deeply, feel frustration and anger but in time you realize you must continue living. There is your job to do and children to love, friends to support — so you start adapting despite the deep loss.
THIRD — Receive a great gift from God.
Through the remarkable science of cloning, God offers you a perfect double of that dear, lost lover. The clone is perfect in every detail. He or she looks talks and thinks like the lover, makes love the same way and supports you in the same manner. He or she wants your support also.
There is only one catch in your miracle. You and your newly restored lover didn’t share the mutual experiences and relationships you had in the past. Both the good and the bad are missing from the relationship you and your original lover shared. You are starting at square one now.
NOW — To identify the level at which your current love is operating, transfer your love to the newly cloned lover. Tell how you shall do that.
If you can readily transfer your love to the new lover, your love is operating at the pleasure/pain or physical level.
If your love can be transferred with some new experiences and a growing relationship, it is functioning at the power/prestige or psychological level.
If your love cannot be transferred without an entire galaxy of mutually satisfying experiences, your love is currently at the purpose/permanence or the philosophical level.
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