Men and women have different natures that are designed for the duties they are optimized to perform in this life. This difference in natures necessitates different egos as their origin. As witnessed by history, man has an exclusive ego, whereas woman has a rather inclusive ego.1 In other words, man’s ego leads to a rather self-centered life where communities are composed of distinct individuals, whereas woman’s ego leads to a rather communal life in which the community is considered as the image of one’s self.2 This comparison shows that the properties of ego are very densely packed in every male; this is shown by his individualistic character. So, it is easier to understand the nature and impacts of ego by studying men.
In order to identify the two essential aspects of the ego, consider the following questions: Why are women more likely to go to the doctor, if ill, while men drag their feet, refusing to go until it is the final resort? Why are women more likely to ask for directions when they feel lost, while men try as hard as possible not to ask for help? Why do women ask for an expert to fix or assemble something, but men keep working until they are stuck and there is no way out other than calling an expert? Why do men get angry when they are told what they should and how they should do it, both at the same time?
These questions reveal the instinct for self-sufficiency and freedom, which are two essential aspects of the ego. They are very strongly interrelated; so much so that violation of one means violation of the other, or acceptance of one requires acceptance of the other. This relation is explained as follows (Figure 1): Motivated by the instinct of self-sufficiency, the ego does not want to accept its insufficiencies, because an acceptance of insufficiencies requires being open to seeking help from other people; but, receiving help means attachment, hence a violation of freedom. Alternatively, motivated by the instinct of freedom, the ego does not want to accept a power that defines boundaries for its actions because obeying a power means acceptance of weakness, hence insufficiency.
Although men and women are not exactly the same in terms of ego, both of them still carry individuality; and this individuality has the aforementioned instincts. Self-sufficiency and freedom, when used properly, can yield loyal partners that help each other stand together in order to accomplish their life goals. When left untamed and uneducated, self-sufficiency and freedom lead to arrogance, selfishness, and so, a miserable married life. In the long run, uneducated egos become overwhelmed by these instincts and easily break off their relationships with their partners. Therefore, effort must be spent in order to moderate and guide them.
Let’s ponder over the following example to shed some light on this matter. The forging or shaping of industrial metals requires high temperatures and/or high pressure. If the temperature is high enough to melt the metal, then it can be poured into the mold to give it the desired shape. If the temperature is not high enough, then high pressure is needed to shape the metal; however, the higher the temperature, the lower the pressure required to shape the metal.
Educating the ego means shaping the character of a person; so it involves the shaping of the ego. Similar to the above example, the education of the ego has two main energy sources: heat due to love and pressure due to fear. If the heat of love is enough to melt the ego, then it is very easy to shape the personality. For this reason, most men become a different person when they fall in love. But, if the heat of love is not enough to melt the ego, then the pressure of fear is necessary to make the needed modifications. The source of fear can change from person to person (e.g. fear of God, fear of loneliness, fear of losing dignity, etc.), and fear can manifest itself in another form, which is respect. Whatever the source of the fear is, and however this fear manifests itself, it must be aimed to protect the stability of the relation between the spouses by enabling modifications in the characters as required by the situation.
Use of the fear factor for ego education comes into the picture mostly in later periods of marriages when passionate love has faded and the actual personalities of the individuals are in play. Hence, it is especially in this part of the marriage that an extra effort is required for the successful continuity of the relationship. This effort is called the art of married life. It is an art that reveals the beauties and powers hidden in the hearts; an art that keeps the two instincts of the ego, i.e. self-sufficiency and freedom, under control and guides them. The art of married life involves human specific issues, gender specific issues, and principles needed to maintain mutual harmony.
I. Human Nature
The subjects that are discussed in this section include the key points that are the same for both men and women.
The past life of a person has an impact on why that person acts the way they do. Therefore, individuals must learn about their partners’ life stories to achieve a mutual understanding. The knowledge of the past life has two components: the pre-birth family background, and the atmosphere consisting of the parents, siblings, and friends. The pre-birth family background has to do with the conditions that the baby is born into. The financial, social, and psychological states of the family influence the parents’ attitudes towards their child. On top of these states, the parents’ past lives compose the unspoken psychological messages given to the child. For this reason, understanding the parents is an important clue to understanding a person. The multi-component atmosphere of the surrounding people determines the conditions under which the innate personality of the person interacts all throughout their life. This interaction instructs the child what the norms and traditions of society are; these in turn motivate and limit the actions of the individual.
As a result of experiences in the past, a person develops a character,3 which becomes a wall in front of the real nature (innate character) of that person. Therefore, when you are interacting with someone, it is their acquired character that you are dealing with, rather than the innate character from birth. So, it is extremely important to learn about and understand this secondary personality in order to comply with it. The knowledge of the past also makes it easier to have patience in the face of problems and to act compassionately and wisely.
This is the God-given character or nature of the person.3 The ego realizes itself in this world through the properties of this character. The individuals who know their innate characters are happy and content in their lives. Success in married life, also, strongly depends on how well the innate character is understood and utilized in the relation. The couples must learn about their own and their partner’s innate character and act accordingly in order to achieve a satisfying and happy marriage.
Because of the past life, the innate personality might have been injured and/or suppressed. The spouses at the beginning of their relationship find the loving and accepting atmosphere needed by the innate character to reveal itself and heal its wounds. However, neither the individual nor the partner knows at the beginning how to properly use or guide these newly emerging properties. It takes time to accord them with respect to each other. So, arguments are imminent in this transitional period as a result of mal-adjusted attitudes.
If the innate character is further suppressed, instead of letting it emerge, this can cause deeper psychological and psychosomatic complications in the long run, such as aggressive attitudes towards family members, or deep and extremely long sleep as a form of self-rejection from the situation. Furthermore, the suppression of the innate character can yield uncontrolled psychological messages that are transferred to the children. These hidden messages can have positive or negative effects on the offspring depending on the psychology of the parent. Sometimes they are like underground mines, which produce much that is of benefit as they are uncovered; and sometimes they act like a second subconscious control mechanism for the person that makes up an aggressive and/or distrustful character.
Both the emergence and the suppression of the innate character have potential dangers. However, when treated properly, the emergence of the innate character is beneficial in the long run. The wise way is to try to be patient with each other so that the partners can realize their innate characters and balance them properly to become more contributing members of the family and the society.
Every person has a natural instinct to find an everlasting love4 that is going to satisfy them in all senses. This instinct is best depicted by the famous expression “live happily ever after”; something that almost never happens: the story always ends at the wedding and the rest is assumed to be irrelevant. Life is full of ups and downs, and no human is ever capable of completely satisfying the heart of another. This is because the heart demands an everlasting love if it is to be satisfied. Therefore, individuals must accept the vast volume of the heart4 and the limited capability of the human being. This acceptance has two implications: a person should not expect the other partner to completely satisfy their heart, and a person should not try to completely satisfy their partner’s heart. A person can at most try to do their best in this way; and as a matter of fact, they must try their best.
Every person has a hidden love agreement. This agreement is a sub-conscious list of conditions that form during their past life. If a person was deprived of something that is required by their innate character, then they are going to look for it in their future life. Any behavior that satisfies this need carries the message of love for that person. On the other hand, the innate character of the individual also shapes the ways in which they can receive and give love, hence the language of love.5 Therefore, the innate character of the person and its interaction with the past life experiences determine the content of the hidden love agreement. When an individual feels that they are loved by someone, the hidden love agreement is automatically and subconsciously activated. This means that the other partner is expected to do certain things and behave in certain ways that they are not aware of. Due to lack of awareness of this hidden agreement, both partners may violate the conditions therein. The feelings of being ignored and being dissatisfied with the relationship as a result of these violations lead to conflicts and arguments. As a remedy to the situation, individuals must become aware of the existence of this hidden agreement both for themselves and for their partners, learn about their contents, and act accordingly.
The ego is like a seed furnished with much potential; and this potential burgeons as time proceeds. Also, the past experiences are like seeds that are sown into the soil of sub-conscience; they sprout over time. Some of these sprouts emerge during childhood, whereas some arise during adolescence and still others erupt in maturity and old age. As a result, the person that an individual encounters changes continuously as the relationship progresses. If these sprout-like changes in the personality are not followed and controlled both by the individual and the partner, they are going to grow and exercise their capabilities. These capabilities will require new things to work on and new opportunities to flourish. This situation can lead to dissatisfaction with the current state of the relationship, which may be harmful unless treated patiently.
II. Differences between Men and Women
Men and women have different laws that constitute their worlds. In order to achieve balance and harmony between the partners, the differences and similarities between these laws must be understood well.