Conflict Spheres in Partnership

During a recent conference in Christchurch, Dr. Michaela Gloeckler, Director of the Medical Section of the Anthroposophic Society, Dornach, Switzerland, inspired us with information that can help understand the difference between men and women. Her reasoning was based on Rudolf Steiner’s discovery, that life activity and thinking activity are identical in essence. They operate in different realms: life activity in the physical body, thinking outside of the physical body. For example, I can think of Paris, yet don’t need to be there physically.

Our live forces come to fruition in our sexuality. When we look at the embryological development, both, male and female are bisexual for the first 6 weeks, the differentiation of sexes only develops in the 7th week. At this point, one sexual attribute (e.g. male) forms on a physical level, the other (e.g. female) remains present as a potential and rules the thinking activity of that person. This means that a woman thinks with male capacity, whereas a man thinks with female capacity. “The fundamental dynamic of the woman’s thinking originates in the not physically activated male reproductive forces – and vice versa.” (Michaela Gloeckler, Macht in der zwischenmenschlichen Beziehung, p. 145; translated from German)

Therefore the female thinking is very spontaneous, highly active, individually orientated, and less contained, like the male reproductive functioning, while the male thinking follows the characteristics of female sexual functioning, being rhythmical, regular, letting things mature. It is men who write big volumes of philosophical books, not women.

A male disposition may explain the lack of instant response, the tendency to think black and white and the reluctance and inability to change one’s viewpoint easily. A female disposition may explain her fast, varied, and creative outburst of thought, her urgency, her tendency to change her mind frequently, and the sheer volume of thought she can produce in a five minute discussion.

Have you noticed, your male partner engaging in rhythmical activities, like reading the paper on a daily basis? Have you noticed, your female partner starting a conversation on one subject, and then branching off into all sorts of directions?

Considering the physiological fact might help to appreciate that men and women are predispositioned in the way they think due to their gender. It takes an effort to develop the respective thinking pattern. When we realize that we come face to face with part of our own nature, represented on a different level, we can cultivate patience and understanding. Rather than being frustrated with the woman’s spontaneity and unpredictability or the man’s regularity and inflexibility, both can develop humour and compassion with each other.

Another conflict sphere that Michaela explored is the realm of expectations and projections. Expectations live often in the unconscious. We need a significant other and our longing and desire are awakened: “I was alone and now I have found you. “You” is everything that I missed.” When my desire is frustrated, I may then “punish the other for being himself and not me”, because I actually look for myself in the relationship. This is the area of fusion (Schnarch), enmeshment (Family Therapy) and confluence (Gestalt Therapy). Michaela suggests when you are disappointed to ask yourself, “what is the basis of this disappointment?”

Usually the basis of disappointment is not knowing. “If I knew my partner he couldn’t disappoint me.” We are asked to explore what is “me” and what is “you”, in order to let each other be him/herself. We can only love our partner, if we love them for themselves, the way they essentially are. As Fritz Perls points out, in relationships there is always a mixture of satisfaction and frustration. It is easy to love someone if they satisfy you, in moments of frustration, our love is tested.

Expectations are also like stars. They give a partnership an idealistic orientation. But we can’t force the other to realize these ideals here and now without damaging the relationship.

With mutual respect and support for each other’s development, a relationship can succeed and thrive. We connect on a spiritual level with our partner when we practice the qualities of “truthfulness, love, and freedom” (ibid. p. 154). Therefore it is important not to make more promises than we can keep, so we can stay truthful with each other. We need to be interested to get to know each other more, so we can develop love. And we need to allow each other to make our own choices, so we can feel free in a relationship.

Then conflict spheres become areas of possibilities to learn and develop further.

Mirjam Busch & Rudolf Jarosewitsch


Copyright © 7/2000 by Rumijabu | Originally published in Southshore Beacon #119, July 2000

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