Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.
Our major task in life is perhaps to find out how mankind can live harmoniously with each other and settle their differences. In history, conflicts in politics, racial, religious, or economics have generally been resolved not by peaceful means but by avoidance, separation, or war. Several state boundaries have been created this way. Nevertheless, none of these differences is as serious as those that exist between men and women either physically, mentally, or emotionally.
These fundamental differences result in communication problems. In the past thousands of years, the two genders have been engaged in avoiding each other or have ‘cold war’ with each other. Because of men’s superiority in physical strength, men have invariably held the upper hand in male-female relationships. For example, in terms of marriage, men have been held as the master of the house; women have been considered second-class citizens of the home even in terms of property. One of the ten commandments in the Old Testament says, “Do not cover your neighbor’s house, nor his wife, or any of his male servants, female servants, cows, asses, or anything that your neighbor possesses.” In China, women and people of low positions are placed at the same rank. Women are commonly perceived to fulfil the role of bearing children for family succession and to satisfy the sexual desires of men. It was common for men to have many wives, and love was the sacrificial item. Slaves can never become intimate friends. For thousands of years, the relation between men and women has been marked by distrust, hatred, sorrow, and coldness; this pain is in our blood.
This century has brought a revolutionary change. Many countries gave women equal opportunities in politics, property rights and education. Changes have also been brought about in the area of marriage. Astrology indicates that we have entered the Aquarian age, where mankind has become more sensitive, and males and females practice equality. Nevertheless, because of the painful memories and habits of the past, many marriages continue to fail. Western experts think that about 80% of all marriages have problems, and more than 50% of marriages are completely broken and lead to divorces. In this age where it is common for the new to replace the old, understanding and learning about the spouse before and after marriage require huge investments in time. We cannot leave it to nature, and it is like trying to grow a sapling on barren ground; it is bound to fail if left to nature.
Professor Harley, an American marriage counsellor, was originally a child psychologist in a school. He found that problem kids came from homes with problem marriages. If he could counsel the parents to improve their marriage, the child’s problems can be naturally resolved. As a result of this observation, he changed his profession to that of a marriage counsellor. He used his lifelong experience (his father was also a marriage counsellor) to write two books – ‘His Needs, Her Needs’ (published by Lapis Lazuli Light) and “Love Busters.” The book “His Needs, Her Needs” allows males and females to realize that their needs are completely different; the ability to satisfy each other’s needs is the most important factor in determining a successful marriage. Another factor to a successful marriage is to avoid hurting each other. “Love Busters” introduces habits that commonly damage a marriage, such as angry outbursts, selfish demands, disrespectful judgements, irritating habits, dishonesty, etc.
Marriage does not need to be the graveyard of love; through counselling, love can make a recovery. We frequently hear people who have been married for many years talk about marriage joylessly and with an air of resignation as if this is the only possible outcome of marriage. In fact, marriage need not be like this, if one knows how to properly cultivate and nurture it.
In recent years, we observe that many unhappy marriages lead to health problems. These have serious adverse repercussions, and it is therefore important to research and introduce this knowledge to other people, Translating Dr. Harley’s book “His Needs, Her Needs” is a first step, and we wish that Chinese readers can benefit by reading the book.
Traditional marriages are motivated by the need to continue the family lineage; whether the man and woman know each other is unimportant and so are their needs. In the past, each party generally meets each other just once before their marriage. It was like a lucky draw – some are lucky while others are unlucky. Men can remarry to correct an imperfection; women have to accept their fate, pin their hopes on their children, and use parental love as a substitute for their husband’s love. This unfair treatment creates much stress for the women, which in turn is a reason for the unpleasant relationship with their mothers-in-laws and the discord in the family. The hatred among members of the family is reflected in Chinese stories.
Nowadays, men and women are free to make acquaintances, and choose their partners. Hence, it is important to learn about friendship and marriage. What are the differences between men and women? What is the difference between love and sex? The founder of the study of human wisdom, Dr. Rudolf Steiner, provides some path-breaking clues on these questions (although his exposition is not as detailed as those in other fields such as education, agriculture, medicine, and arts because social norms precluded him from elaborating during his time). One of his students, Wolfgang Gadeke, was a German marriage counsellor and pastor. Between 1985 to 1988, he was interviewed by Wolfgang Weirauel, the chief editor of the magazine Ilensbuiger Ltefte. During these interviews, Wolfgang Gadeke used a spiritual perspective to look at men and women, and the issue of friendship and marriage. There was great interest, and the resulting book has been reprinted five times, and still remains a best-seller. The English edition was published in 1998 by London’s Temple Lodge Publishing (51 Queen Carloine St, London, W6 9QL).
Below is a summary by Wolfgang Gadeke about Dr. Steiner’s views:
Men and women are different both in terms of physical and mental attributes. Men’s reproductive system is active and alive; men can feel the activities of the millions of sperms, and how they influence and cause pressure on their consciousness. Women cannot feel the fertilization of their eggs. Their desires come from their emotions, and they will observe theirmate’s look, expression, and voice (i.e., their soul). In contrast, men’s attend only to the physical attributes of the female’s body.
Besides a physical body, humans also have an etheric body (life body), the astral-body (the emotional body), and the ego body. There are also other differences between men and women. Men generally have greater physical strength and better developed muscles than women. In terms of the etheric body, women are stronger than men, and this is apparent even within the womb: although male fetuses are bigger than female ones by a ratio of 1.3 to 1, this ratio drops to 1.06 at the time of birth, and 1.0 by age 21. The mortality rate of male infants is over 10% higher than that of female infants. About 30% more males than females have adolescent problems. Females outlive males by about 7 years, and old folks home have a predominance of females. The astral bodies of women are also stronger than that of men; in terms of emotional expressions, women find it easier to express their inner feelings and have richer emotions. In terms of feelings towards the opposite gender, females generally experience a sense of emptiness when they are unable to meet their lover. Males have stronger self-egos than females. They are also able to be more objective observers of events than females (who tend to be more opinionated).
Men tend to have stronger ego consciousness than women. A large part of women’s lives revolves around the etheric body and the astral body, while much of men’s lives centre on their physical body and ego body.
In terms of thought processes, men tend to use a ‘either this or that’ thinking mode, similar to computers which are also designed to process things in terms of ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In contrast, women use a “both or and” thinking mode. Thus, men use an ‘exclusive’ mode of thinking, while women use an ‘inclusive’ mode of thinking; men use first principles to make decisions, while women use feelings and intuition to do so. Take the example of purchasing a pair of shoes. Women have a general idea of what kind of shoes they want and then visit several shops to look for the right pair. They may very well return to and buy from the first shop they had visited, and then exchange for a new pair a few days later. On the other hand, when buying a pair of shoes, men generally base their decisions on price and utility, and are not particular about the color or height of the heels, etc. One observation is that the majority of shoppers who return goods after Christmas are women.
In selecting their life-long partners, men and women find someone whom they can communicate at the emotional and spiritual levels. In particular, due consideration should be given to the fact that men and women generally fully develop their self-egos when they are about twenty-eight years old. If they marry before this age, there is a tendency for difficulties in their marriages to emerge by the time they are twenty-eight years old. In general, it is the women who bring up these difficulties. Women who marry too early tend to look upon their husbands as the focus of all activities and may think that they cannot survive without their husbands. However, when their egos mature, they will oppose this restriction on their egos and strongly seek their freedom by looking for jobs or going for higher education, etc.
On the other hand, if a strong friendship is not first developed, it may be difficult to avoid the damage caused by sex. Sex is a paradox: when two people are in love, they think that physical contact will enhance intimacy. In actual fact, it may have a reverse effect in that it may lead to a greater separation spiritually. A characteristic of physical contact is that only physical sensations can be felt but not other feelings or sensations felt by the other party. Hence, those who consider lust to be love can generally maintain a relationship for only two years; little wonder that it has been said that “marriage is the graveyard of love”. Gadeke suggests that when young people make friends, they deliberately keep a physical distance and correspond by mail. Even the telephone is not an ideal tool compared to love letters, which can uniquely facilitate the expression of one’s inner feelings. He is especially opposed to the idea of cohabitation among young couples. According to him, cohabitation and marriage leads to the same outcome in that it may inhibit one’s individual characteristic from developing. Sexual relationship between members is appropriate within the context of a long-lasting marriage. When the relationship is temporary in nature, harm may be done to the spiritual and emotional communication between the two parties. When selecting marriage partners, both parties must have the ability to live independently. The best decision is made only when it is made freely without conditions and demands. Steiner suggests that for present day marriages, it is best to avoid the pull of past karmic relationships, and it is advisable not to select family members and spouses from one’s past lives as our current marriage partners. Higher-order spiritual choices can have a big impact on the earth and the spiritual world.
Perhaps, this is the happy marriage in the golden era.