Women In Relation To Men
In relation to men, “a wife in form is the good of her husband’s truth, and he the truth of his wife’s goodness” (CL 242, see also CL 284, 293). This stems from the fact that “love cannot help but love and unite itself in order to be loved in return, this being the very essence and life of love. And women are born forms of love, while men – with whom they unite themselves in order to be loved in return – are receivers” (CL 160). Therefore, “on account of and for the sake of that union with her mate, a woman is born a form of love for a man, and she becomes more and more a form of love for him by marriage, because her love then continually devotes its thoughts to joining her husband to her.” (CL 173).
The underlying fact that “wives are vessels receptive of and sensitive to [conjugial] delights, because they are born forms of love, and all delights have to do with love” (CL 155r.3) explains why it is that “in wives, conjugial delights take their rise from no other source than their willing to be united with their husbands, as good is united with truth in a marriage of these on the plane of the spirit” (CL 198). In fact, even in the spiritual world, “the love of wisdom that wives have in heaven knows no greater pleasure than to receive [the truths of wisdom from their husbands] as though in a womb, and thus to become pregnant with them, carry them, and give them birth” (CL 115.5). From these spiritual conceptions, affections are born. For “affections are simply the offspring of love, and they form the will, molding it and composing it. In men, however, these affections reside in the intellect, whereas in women they reside in the will” (CL 197). This sheds light on the interactions of a husband and wife on this earth as well, for people are actually spirits clothed in bodies (HH 453). Therefore, real conjunction is found between a husband and wife when they are focused not simply on the production of natural offspring, but on the development of spiritual offspring as well.
Another facet of the interaction of women with men is that:
young women in heaven, just as on earth, from an innate discretion conceal their inclinations towards marriage, the young men there do not know otherwise than that they inspire feelings of love in the young women, and this also appears to them to be so because of their masculine urge. However, even this urge in them is caused by an influx of love emanating from the fair sex.(CL 187, see also CL 223)
It was seen previously that men experience this external arousal from the power of insemination. This masculine urge constitutes an external inclination to marriage. The reason that women at first conceal their inclinations towards marriage is to the end that men may move from this external inclination to marriage to an internal one. In fact, throughout a marriage the wife is continually bringing into herself the wisdom of her husband, as was spoken of before, and “the prudence needed to accomplish it is instinctive in women from creation, thus from birth, for reasons that are necessary in building conjugial love, friendship and trust, so that the two may have bliss in living together and happiness of life” (CL 194). And so it is clear that because all people begin as external people, women must at first trust their innate discretion and conceal matters relating to conjugial love until their men come into a place of wisdom that is receptive to it.
In thinking about the role of a woman in marriage, it is essential to remember the following:
Conjugial love has its seat in chaste wives, but their love depends on their husbands. The reason is that wives are born forms of love, and it is therefore innate in them to wish to be one with their husbands. They also continue to feed their love with this thought of their will. Consequently to turn away from their effort to unite themselves with their husbands would be to turn away from their very natures. It is different with husbands. Because they are not born forms of love, but are receivers of that love from their wives, therefore to the degree that they receive it, to that degree their wives enter into them with their love. But to the degree they do not receive it, their wives stand outside with their love and wait. This is what happens, however, in the case of chaste wives. It is otherwise in the case of unchaste ones. (CL 216r)
Women are limited by men. This is because the atmosphere of the marriage of good and truth, or the conjugial atmosphere:
is received by the female sex and communicated through it to the male sex. The male sex does not have any conjugial love inherent in it, but conjugial love is inherent only in the female sex and is transmitted to the male sex from it … The masculine form is an intellect-oriented one and the feminine form a will-oriented one; and an intellect-oriented form does not have the capacity to develop a conjugial warmth on its own, but can do so only from the associated warmth of another in whom this has been implanted from creation. Consequently the masculine form cannot receive conjugial love except by having adjoined to it the will-oriented form of a woman, because this is at the same time a form of love. CL 223
This is particularly interesting when it is considered in light of the general teaching that “a person’s character is shaped by his will, and not by his intellect, since love easily carries away the understanding into seeing things its way and becoming its servant … for the affection of the will governs a person’s inner self, while the thought of the intellect governs his outer one” (CL 269, see also CL 230, 400). From this it is clear that because “the will is the recipient vessel of love, and the understanding the recipient vessel of wisdom” (CL 270) and “a husband lives in the chamber of the intellect, and a wife lives in the chamber of the will” (CL 270) therefore a wife, from her reception of the conjugial sphere works internally to bring the couple into spiritual life, whereas the husband’s work in this regard is more external. However, the limiting factor in the conjugial relationship would appear to be primarily the husband (assuming the wife is chaste) and his acceptance of love from his wife by means of wisdom.
The role of a good woman in marriage is best described by seven angel wives, who explain that,
Every chaste wife loves her husband, even a husband who is unchaste; but because wisdom is the only quality that receives her love, therefore a wife spends every effort to turn his insanity into wisdom, at least to the point that he does not desire any other women but her. This she accomplishes in a thousand ways, taking especial care that none of these ways be detected by her husband; for she well knows that love cannot be compelled, but is subtly infused in a state of freedom. For that reason it is granted to women to discern from sight, hearing and touch their husbands’ every state of mind, while it is not granted to men conversely to discern any of their wives’ states of mind. A chaste wife can look at her husband with a stern expression, speak to him in a sharp voice, and even be angry at him and fight with him, and yet at the same time in her heart cherish a gentle and tender love for him. The object, however, of these expressions of anger and concealments of love is wisdom and a consequent reception of love on the part of her husband, as is clearly apparent from how quickly she can be placated. Wives furthermore have such ways of concealing the love implanted in their heart and marrows in order by these means to keep a man’s coldness with respect to marriage from breaking out in him and extinguishing even the fire of his licentious heat, the result of which would be to turn him from green wood into a dry stick. CL 294 (see also CL 285, 293, 353)
From this it is clear that the reestablishment of conjugial love on earth will be by means of women gently working with their husbands. However, it is up to husbands to shun lascivious and licentious things so that their internal cold towards marriage will be removed by the Lord and wisdom inserted in its place.
When men and women work in concert with each other to become a spiritual being, their effectiveness is greatly increased. The order intended from creation is that the masculine and the feminine complement each other in every respect, challenging and supporting one another in their development – the man from a higher light, the woman from a higher heat. This kind of conjugial relationship between husband and wife is described by an angel in the following manner:
A wife acquires from her husband’s wisdom a love of it in her, and from his wife’s love of wisdom a husband acquires wisdom in him. Indeed, a wife is actually transformed into an embodiment of love for her husband’s wisdom, which is accomplished by her receptions of the propagations of his soul with delight – a delight arising from her willing to be an embodiment of love for her husband’s wisdom. From being a maiden she thus becomes his wife and a likeness of him. As a result, too, love with its inmost friendship constantly increases in the wife, and wisdom with its happiness in the husband, and this to eternity. This is the state of angels in heaven. (CL 355, see also CL 198)
Let this serve as the end in view to all who seek wisdom and its attendant love, which is the life of heaven.