The Divine Couple

I’ve been thinking about why romantic movies, particulary movies that are romantic in a large way (Brave Heart, Cinderella Man, The Patriot, Pride and Prejudice, The Last of the Mohicans), are so compelling. I’m reminded of the oddly potent Snow Patrol song, “Chasing Cars,” which is about having a person with whom one can retreat under the covers and hide from the everyday world. It is about a wholeness that saves one from the harshness of life’s fractures.

The Divine Couple archetype is one of several archetypes of wholeness, in which male and female–essentially, opposites–unite to form a coherent whole. Two become one and live out the remainder of their days in romantic, wedded bliss.

Unfortunately, that’s not what usually happens, in spite of the cinematic evidence. All that evidence only serves as an indicator of how constant and lasting our longing is to be whole and happy. While theoretically we’re to achieve that wholeness within ourselves by going after it by ourselves, we typically miss that mark entirely by externalizing the quest for self and working to find that perfect someone who will do it for us: make us complete. That someone who will complete us may express itself as sexual passion, or it may be through the pursuit of a spouse; later, it may come through desiring to have children to complete a marriage; or it may be manifested in many other ways, such as by throwing oneself into a career, etc.

The problem with becoming whole are the obstacles in the way, not the least of which can be oneself. Jung wrote that archetypes such as the shadow self (one’s sin, one’s dark side, all that’s not glorious), or the anima or animus often trip us up along the way. They may entice us off the straight and narrow path that actually leads to wholeness, onto paths that lead us farther and farther away from being real and whole.

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