Growing up, I had, like we all do, archtypes regarding the way relationships are supposed to work, what a marriage is supposed to look like, and we use these archtypes as guides to our behavior, the sort of people who we find attractive, etc.
According to Jung, there are also "built-in" archtypes that arise from the collective unconscious. He found that men and women have in their psyches archtypes of the opposite sex, anima and animus.
The Anima is the personification of all feminine psychological tendencies within a man, the archetypal feminine symbolism within a man's unconscious. The Animus is the personification of all masculine psychological tendencies within a woman, the archetypal masculine symbolism within a woman's unconscious.
Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness (Princeton University Press, 1954) xxii n. 7:
It is in this sense that we use the terms "masculine" and "feminine" throughout the book, not as personal sex-linked characteristics, but as symbolic expressions. . . . The symbolism of "masculine" and "feminine" is archetypal and therefore transpersonal; in the various cultures concerned, it is erroneously projected upon persons as though they carried its qualities. In reality every individual is a psychological hybrid. . . . . [I]t is one of the complications of individual psychology that in all cultures the integrity of the personality is violated when it is identified with either the masculine or the feminine side of the symbolic principle of opposites.
Throughout my life, I had dreams and even visions (waking dreams) of this girl. She grew with me. Sometimes specifics about her would change slightly, eye color, hair color... but what remained always the same were the personality traits. Like many men who have some level of awareness of this anima, she became to me the personification of everything that I looked for in a woman.
But, things always change. I went through a number of heartbreaking relationships. I found myself becoming jaded. I started to give up. Why keep looking for this "perfect woman"?
Around this time I married and we had a child together. It was not an ideal partnership by any means. I settled for someone who was nice, who I had fun with, and who seemed to really dig me. But I was quite unhappy. And it showed.
I then read C.G. Jung's "Man and His Symbols". As I discovered his ideas concerning anima and animus, I could swear I heard an audible "click" in my mind. That's who She is!! She is not outside of myself, but an internal function of my psyche! Made perfect sense!
That night, as I slept, I had the last dream of Her. As always, she had grown with me. She was now a woman in her thirties, beautiful as She ever was, but with the lines which come with wisdom. Not a word was spoken, but she smiled kindly and knowingly at me and held me close.
Not many months later, my wife and I divorced and I became a single father, primary custodian of our son. What a change! It was initially difficult to adjust to. But eventually I did just that. And I began thinking on partnering again.
But this time... this time I was going to do it right. No longer would I concern myself with any other person's, or my society's cultural ideas, about the right sort of person for me. I decided to follow exactly and completely my own heart's desire. In addition, I would be honest and open completely with myself and others. If a person hates me for my ideas, then they hate me for them.
This became my motto:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Of course, William Shakespeare...
I analyzed who I was and what I wanted, and I decided that I would not vary. I knew that I needed physical beauty. I don't care how kind, intelligent, fun the woman is. If she is not also beautiful to me, I will not be content. As well, I knew that I do need all those other qualities, as beauty without them would be empty. She also needed to have a deep interest in things "spiritual"...
During that time, I dated women here and there. I was utterly and often frustratingly honest. If they were not what I ultimately desired in a relationship, I advised them of this as soon as I was aware of it. I didn't mince words or try overly to spare feelings. That would only serve to drag things out. "I like you. You're a great person. But you're just not the right one for me. I must be true to myself."
I decided that I would retain my integrity to this even if it meant I never found what I was looking for and died alone. I could die happy knowing I had tried my best.
And then... I met someone. She was an ex-Jehovah's Witness like myself. She was very spiritually-minded, very intelligent, very kind and compassionate... and I learned soon enough, one of the most radiantly beautiful women I've ever known. In her eyes, I saw Her. In her heart, I felt Her. And, I found, that just as I had Her, she had Him. It was as if we'd lived our lives in parallel in so many ways. It was as if the gods had blessed us for our efforts...
I am so very in love with this woman as to make every single relationship I've ever had seem as child's crushes by comparison. I feel my poetic soul awakened and heart soar.
The woman I'm describing is our very own Brigid here on JWD. I feel more fortunate than you could possibly imagine to have met her.
Brigid, I know I tell you this often, but I love you more than I could possibly convey with words.
I appeal to the gods above, below and within to allow this joy to continue as it will and to grant us both the wisdom and the strength to converse with and follow the guidance of our inner selves, our true wills.
Thesis - antithesis - synthesis