Level 1 - Attachment
What is the colour of your living room curtains? Chances are, you need to check. This is true for a number of things in our lives. We often do not notice them simply because they are always there, and we believe they will always be. Some relationships are like that. Partners do feel the natural urge to be physically close to each other, they may very much depend on each other and interact with one another. But they rarely take special note of one another. They take each other for granted. Their relationship may be stable, secure, even comfortable. There is no problem that threatens its survival. But the relationship just IS. It survives without going anywhere. There is only enough life to keep it going, not enough to give it freshness or intensity.
In Pride & Prejudice, Louisa has married a fashionable gentleman named Hurst. Inheriting substantial wealth from her father, she has no concerns for money. But she does need to do something, to "be" someone. To her, marriage is a desirable state, and about as important as conversation or elegant attire. She has no great values, principles, opinions, emotions or goals. She concurs with everything her younger sister Caroline says, she has no real thoughts of her own. She cares only for gossiping, feeling socially superior and making fun of people they mix with socially. Her husband, Mr.Hurst, cares only for food, drink, cards and entertainment. He married Louisa for her money and is satisfied living off his brother-in-law's hospitality. He attends parties mostly just to eat and drink, not even to meet people and mix. He has no capacity for thought or conversation. He is unable to comprehend other people's interest in books, ideas or anything more serious than passing amusements. The two of them are always seen together. They live together, travel together and attend parties. They have no arguments, no differences of opinion, and no serious problems. Nor is there any particular source of cheerfulness or joy. Activity, travel and movement from one place to another are the only source of stimulation. When separated, Louisa and her husband do not miss each other. They simply carry on. When together there is no particular expression of affection between them. They do not talk to each other, except to discuss gossip, rumors, facts and functional necessities. There is no evidence that they even think about or care for one another. If Louisa's sister Caroline wants to play the piano when Mr.Hurst is asleep, Louisa makes no objection to waking him up. We never see them worried, excited, anxious or concerned. Gossiping about other people is their main source of amusement. They have no ideals or goals that inspire them. Mr.Hurst is satisfied with having married a wealthy, attractive woman. Louisa is satisfied with a fashionable gentleman for a husband.
This is a description of a positive example of Physical Attachment. In this relationship, there are no extremes. The relationship provides a sense of belonging, a comfort. The partners consider each other as extensions of themselves and rarely consider that their needs and preferences may be different. They take each other for granted. Physical attachment fosters dependence and limits individual freedom. When such a relationship is positive, we find two individuals in a stable, comfortable, and lifeless relationship. When it is negative, one partner may powerfully dominate and the other weakly submit to unreasonable authority or a tyranny of selfishness. Quarrels, meanness and violence may be commonplace. Or neither partner exhibits any particular energy toward or over the other. Physically their home may lack a clean, neat orderly, well-maintained appearance, because cleanliness and orderliness require a constant exertion of energy. Obligations may be perpetually delayed. Yet still the partners depend on one another and live in some kind of symbiotic relationship. In one noted example of a couple living in a low class neighborhood, for several decades a man and his wife quarreled incessantly every night after the time the man returned from work. One day the man fell suddenly ill and died a few days later. The very next day, his wife died too. She literally could not live for a day without her abusive partner who she could not live with harmoniously for a day. That is physical attachment when it is negative.
Partners at this level can energize their relationship by elevating the cleanliness and orderliness of their living environment, carrying out tasks on time, taking genuine interest in one another, helping each other out or adopting some shared goals that are positive and constructive, e.g. improving their home, educating and giving personal attention to children, and working together harmoniously to achieve them. Even if one partner takes genuine interest in making the other partner's life more pleasant and enjoyable, the relationship will acquire greater energy, liveliness and meaning.
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