THE LOVE PYRAMID - Mini Course
By Jard & Roberta DeVille
We must insist on this right here -- up front. As St. Paul and many other brilliant scholars of the human condition told us, a satisfying life must combine faith, hope and love -- with the greatest element of all being love.
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.
We are all on a continuum from one extreme to the other; another; there really are only the two options. And may God have mercy on your soul if you connect with one of the loveless persons when you are young and na"ve - and having said that, we must also report that the opposite of love is not hate. Hate is an entirely different emotion that is much more complicated than love. The opposite of love is simply -- indifference -- not caring what happens to another person, family, congregation, community or country. This is not as immediately damaging as hatred but it is much more widespread and therefore deprives those persons who need love and acceptance.
Nor only is love vital for satisfaction in our relationships, as a recent study of neglected Romanian orphans revealed, love is necessary for survival in our formative years. Love in infancy teaches us the basic trust that sets the stage for almost everything good that follows in each person's life. Some years ago, several of the nurses at Cook County Hospital in Chicago discovered, while caring for infants in the orphaned and abandoned children's ward there, that one of the beds apparently had supernatural powers. The last crib on the left in the ward, next to the broom closet, always held the healthiest, happiest child. They discovered that the infant's race, gender or nationality made no difference; the child in the end crib, over a two or three week period, had less colic, fewer infections and gained weight faster and went out sooner than any other kid in the ward. To say that this magic bed mystified the nurses and doctors was a major understatement, so they switched cribs and discovered it was not the bed but its position at the end of the long row that made the difference. The infants next to the broom closet always did best and were sent out for adoption the fastest of all. There was some skepticism at first but an examination of the infants' charts from the previous two or three years proved the nurses' point beyond any argument. It was more than a little spooky but they I deed found a magic place, next to the broom closet -- in which kids prospered best. And you know something they really had discovered the magic of love and life!
They called in specialists who examined everything from the floor wax, to the heating vents and the soap used to wash the bedding. Nothing could be found except that the end spot had a little higher bacteria count because of -- you guessed it, the untidy broom closet's dust and drippings. When everything kept taking them back to the dirty broom closet, when everyone was going a little crazy, Molly Sullivan called in a behavioral detective who studied their data and immediately reported there must be a human factor they'd missed. Molly started snooping and in just one night discovered the mysterious healing force. It was a loving American Indian woman.
Eleanor Bentbow was the night custodian, an Ojibwa grandmother, who worked the midnight to eight am shift through several of the wards. Her supplies were stored in the broom closet -- mops and brooms, solutions and waxes and soaps and cleaning rags stored beside the mysterious space occupied by the end crib. And, as Ma Bentbow worked through the long quiet night, she would pass back and forth, getting supplies for her different chores. As she came by, she'd stop by the end child, pat it a bit, tickle it under the chin, and if the duty nurse was gone from her station in the middle of the ward, snatch it to her ample bosom, rock it in her arms and sing it a few snatches of an old Ojibwa lullaby before kissing it good night and tucking it gently back to bed. Where it slept peacefully and grew strong because it had found an infant's sense of meaning in her love. It was all done, mind you, in direct violation of sound health principles, the laws of bacteriology and hospital regulations. Every night the loving grandmother spread bacteria, dust and muddy mop drippings all over the end kid. Along with her love! And life and love being what they are, the squeezings and dust didn't stand the chance of a snowball in July compared to her great loving heart! She was living and loving on a level that did not negate the science of Koch, Pasteur and Lister but indeed did transcend it. The nurses and doctors at Cook County understood this instantly and started writing that each child in the ward must receive so many minutes of Tender Loving Care (TLC) on every shift. And, incredibly, the illness and death rate in the ward plummeted -- swiftly fell far below the national average. Saints do indeed come in all sizes, shapes and colors!
Another 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. As you shall learn in the unit about changing personal circumstances, obviously, society is changing swiftly -- a majority of persons have difficulty trying to keep life on an even keel. Scholars like Carl Jung, Carl Rogers and Viktor Frankl write that we 20th-21st century urban souls become confused neurotic when we fail to find strong sources of meaning in our 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.
Love and friendship, and we surely don't know where to draw a precise line between the two, present a great paradox of existence - and the more love you give away, even squandering it recklessly, the more love and friendship you gain. We've learned that we can love deeply and have compassion for as many people as we choose to love. There are no limits; there is no sexual scarcity although some neurotic people who fear and hate intimacy pretend there is so they shall not have to risk meeting their lover's needs. Of course, we also believe that chastity out of marriage and a monogamous relationship within marriage is by far the best, is the ideal for committed lovers.
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 maturity along life's 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.
Fear, anxiety and frustration hamper both women and men in their search for lasting love and friendship. Karen Horney wrote a fine book called THE NEUROTIC PERSONALITY OF OUR TIME. One key concept was that persons who grow up deprived of love, who are neurotic about loving relationships, often fail to develop the personal acceptance that true love needs in order to prosper. Meg Dalton had been abandoned by her father as a girl, sexually abused by her mother's lover when a teen-ager and was battling through a stormy marriage in her mid-twenties. She distrusted and feared men although she'd married Tom and had a little boy with him. Meg doubted, from her painful experiences, whether any man could ever be trusted wholeheartedly. She said:
When my son slithered out of my body and I realized he was a male, I wept in frustration. My own child was one of those mysterious, dangerous "others". I doubted I could love him, could care for him as I would a girl. It was difficult to go beyond my old emotions and I fear he still feels my doubts
Two men had failed Meg, her own father who cowardly ran away; who should have loved and supported her even if he would not remain married to his wife and also her mother's lover when he seduced her as a teen-ager. Of course Meg's mother was disturbed enough to stay with a ruthless man who'd abuse an unhappy adolescent for his own egoistic pleasure. Women are often the brains and minds of men and women really do nature with some significant differences as women usually love more readily than men do. Men have enormous macho problems with love -- some of then genetic and some cultural. Every mental hospital and prison in America is jammed with men who had an absolutely terrible childhood because their parents were too immature to rear healthy, happy kids. Of course, we do realize that a great deal of the parents' confusion and despair comes from the secular society we've created with our ideologies of greed. However, the alienation and frustration of the age does not lessen our responsibility to love those persons for whom we are responsible. A great many of our problems are eased when our lives become more satisfying, when we deliberately find sources of meaning for our lives. Roberta insists that women generally handle love better than men do. Jard agrees with her.
The old European patriarchal system so dear too many fearful, primitive men is a disaster in our swiftly changing society. The concept of the father as the family's commanding officer who issues the commands in a military model, with the mother who carries them out as his executive officer and the children as rank and file soldiers who salute and obey without question, no longer works. Many macho men have a John Wayne/John Rambo attitude in which a real man loves nothing except perhaps his horse and his gun. They live with a tough arrogance that drives many women and children mad. Police officers and career soldiers who are among the most macho, swaggering men of our society -- tough guys who believe that serious social problems can be solved with a club and a gun. They are willing to use violence when they cannot intimidate others. Serious relationship problems are common among such men. Cops and soldiers have the highest divorce rates in the country today. If they cannot dominate and control, they are at a loss in keep their relationships sound. These include the aerial cowboys who got staggering drunk and assaulted even women naval officers in the Navy Tailhook scandal a few years ago; and the Army training officers and sergeants who went to prison for abusing their power over teenage female recruits by forcing them to have sexual relations with them. Many wives leave such men after a few years in search of less domineering mate -- but the tough guys are always the marrying kind. The men in the Chicago Police Department have been married by an average of three times before they have twenty years on the job. Most soon remarry and repeat the unhappy process several times before finally retiring with several families spread across the country.
Many women have problems with love also. Some never seem to learn the difference between men who use and abuse them to Tend their needs and see the food is cooked -- as Mr. Doolittle sang in MY FAIR LADY -- and those who actually care about women per se. This difference between men who want sex while fearing and detesting the feminine characteristics that make a woman who she is -- and men who love women as women, puts many naive girls at risk in their search for love and acceptance. Every school we taught in had at least one woman teacher who was married to a janitor. With teaching being an avenue out of the lower economic classes into the middle class, a considerable proportion of women teachers marry laboring men. They are more comfortable with them than with upwardly mobile lawyers, physicians and managers. They can identify with a man who sits on the front steps and drinks beer from a can in his undershirt because their fathers had! And because their working class fathers often slapped their mothers around when frustrated, some tolerate their husbands' casual violence. After all, we are usually tempted to assume that life as we learned it is the way it should always be. It gets worse for many women.
About one young woman in five has a major eating disorder that comes right out of our Hollywood culture and the way women are portrayed in movies and on television. They are caught in a vicious cycle of weight gain and loss that becomes harder and harder as their bodies try to protect them from starvation during their childbearing years. Far too many women become fixated in an impossible quest, dieting and bingeing, ignoring everything their bodies are trying to tell them, trying desperately to remain a seventeen year old idealized girl sold to American women and men by vested interest groups that will do anything to make money at our expense. Up to a quarter of the women in the U S and Canada are on diets at any given time because of pressure put on them by advertisers and the motion picture industry. We as a society are sending young women mixed messages. We are telling girls they can have wonderful careers, compete successfully with men in business have loving husbands and children -- as long as they look like movie stars.
We believe it is their preoccupation with this impossible ideal that cripples so many girls from junior high school to the early college years. Before puberty, little girls run and play, plan great projects and have fabulous dreams about the future, anticipating lives of achievement and satisfaction. But as every teacher and school counselor knows, the onslaught of puberty destroys this happy anticipation for many girls. Grades fall, serious mood swings occur and many girls take lovers to prove to themselves they really are lovable. As a boy matures he sees his increased weight and size as a positive sign, he is becoming more competent in sports, more masculine. Sad to say, almost all girls are taught just the opposite by parents, teachers, counselors, and by the boys they've become fixated on. Research reveals that teachers -- even women teachers, expect more of boys in class and offer them many more opportunities to grow intellectually than they give girls.
Almost every advertisement, every movie, every book, every boy, tells girls over and over again that any size or weight increase beyond the slenderness of a fashion model or movie star is a personal failure. Every girl who becomes anorexic or bulimic, we are convinced, is terrified of maturing into womanhood because the men and boys who define beauty have dictated for American women an impossible goal. Our ideal of beauty comes naturally to no more than six percent of all women. The rest have to starve and batter themselves in a life-long battle against nature. Anorexic girls are desperate to remain childlike, so they won't be humiliated by their broadening hips and breasts blooming into womanhood. They have accepted the current Hollywood fantasy of beauty so the boys will see them as desirable as movie stars. A moment with food on the lips -- is forever on the hips, has become American women's' nightmares as millions are torturing themselves in an unending struggle to look more attractive to men that detracts from everything else they try to accomplish and become.
We're convinced that healing for women caught in this self-destruction cycle begins with a spiritual awakening and progresses through finding a lasting source of meaning that goes beyond a fixation with one's body shape. Dieting and re-dieting is terribly harmful. It leads to women as talented as Karen Carpenter and Sandra Dee killing themselves through self starvation in order to maintain an impossible ideal that adds neither more nor less to a woman's worth, ability to learn and potential for achievement. This comes from the legitimate need to be loved that has been co-opted by vested interests that want more and more money, power and prestige. Get into a spiritual fellowship where you feel you belong, find a spiritually minded lover and life shall be a great deal more satisfying than struggling futilely to remain seventeen for the rest of your life. Fortunately for lovers, the man and woman relationship of honest and accepting love is the best we've ever seen.
As Ernest Becker wrote in his Pulitzer Prize winning book THE DENIAL OF DEATH, many humans do have serious problems with everything that is connected to our sexual needs. Nothing else in life has so many cultural and social restrictions and punishments that trouble us from infancy to old age. For a thousand years now, love, intimacy and sexuality have remained a deeply troubling aspect of life for a great many neurotic theologians and leaders within the church. Those aspects of life that give us sexual pleasure and produce our offspring have been very difficult for some priests and ministers to manage without turning cruel and violent. Thank God, some but not even most elements of the church have finally matured past the cruel medieval neuroticism that sees sexuality as an evil part of life that God hates. This ancient belief that sex is sinful and thus forbidden by God except for the concession to perpetuate the race came out of the raw neuroticism of powerful medieval churchmen who justified their psychopathic fear and hatred of women. We feel the greatest single sin of the institutional church, after blessing the vicious wars our political primitives orchestrate, has been its treatment of women. Husbands owned their wives and children legally and could treat them as private possessions without suffering the church's condemnation for a thousand years.
Because so many medieval theologians narcissistically saw themselves as God's special holy men, who struggled to resist sexual temptation by lustful women, they tortured and murdered many unfortunate souls and turned all women into second rate believers. Burning women at the stake was a favorite way of controlling feisty females as the church did with Jeanne d' Arc and many others. Of course, only within the last fifty years or so has any religious hierarchy seen the lay members as forming the church rather than the clergy being the church. This has been true of Protestant denominations as well as the Catholic movement. It was well into the 20th century before the Methodist Church chose lay delegates to their annual conferences and committees. Not until the sixties did the Methodist, Lutheran and other denominations accept women as pastors. The Episcopalian church fought against female equality ferociously until the eighties, and according to Roberta, the Southern Baptists and Catholics still considers women inferior souls who cannot teach congregations anything of value. Apparently, she says, you must have a penis in order to think worthwhile spiritual thoughts -- in order to serve God!
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. Jard especially likes the way playwright Arthur Miller put it in his play AFTER THE FALL, Quentin (actually Miller himself) said to his wife Louise (Mary rather than Marilyn Monroe);
I came in just now and I had a tremendous wish to come out to you. And you to me. It sounds absurd to say the world is filled with lovers rushing to meet each other. The city is filled with lovers!
Indeed! Love will mature when we get past the domineering concepts that immature men and women use against each other because they have selfish needs to prove themselves superior at the partner's expense. Life seldom becomes rewarding until we become better persons rather than trying to shape the lover into something different. Of course, as Roberta says:
It's every woman's duty to find a perfect man and immediately try to improve him.
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 teen-ager, 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.
Wisdom From The Fulfillment forum
About the author:
Jard & Roberta DeVille; Taught leadership psychology at the University of Arizona; published psychology books, seminars & psychological assessment instruments. They wrote 'Lovers For Life' and other Courses/books together. Visit http://www.fulfillmentforum.comfor FREE Courses and E-Commerce Tools.