Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fantasy Bonds in Eternal Marriages

This was another session I attended at Sunstone Symposium. It was given by Michael Farnsworth, EdD, an educational psychologist who recently retired from the marriage and family relations dept. at BYU Idaho.

The words "fantasy bonds" were, in my opinion, a little misleading in this presentation. Michael was using the terminology given by Robert Firestone to roleplays that husbands and wives develop in their marriages. Fantasy bonds are culturally defined duties that people begin to act out in their marriages. They can eventually become bonds which hold the couple back from intimacy.

Michael said that intimacy is an acquired taste--many cannot stand the passion that true intimacy brings. When we fear our own and others' energies, we can form fantasy bonds as a psychological defense to marital distress. Mormon women have a great tendency to slip into this role-playing behavior. Once a young wife enters into the pattern, all her decisions are made for her. She will have many children, she will not work outside the home, she will hold Church callings, etc. Michael warns of three dangers to this reaction, and I have observed these myself.

1. The relationship can become superficial
2. The marriage partners are embroiled in continual conflict
3. One of the partners surrenders their voice

Thus, Michael suggested that personal identity has to be established before relationship identity can be formed.

The respondent to this talk was Ronda Callister, PhD and professor of organizational behavior at Utah State. She presented the point of view that developing a resilient identity is the work of a lifetime. She said that had she waited until personal identity was established before she was married, it would have been a very long time! Then she shared some steps she had taken in developing a resilient identity and encouraging intimacy in her marriage.

I enjoyed this presentation but I found it very difficult to listen to, since I neither see myself as having a very well-developed sense of identity nor much intimacy within my marriage.


Mark said...

It makes perfect sense that we should form our personal identiy before we form the idenity as a couple. This is a much better foundation for a long term relationship.

GeckoMan said...

Oh come on now, BiV, after 8 kids and 2+ years blogging exploring your feelings and curiosities, I get the impression that you have a pretty well developed (but not closed) sense of identity. Are you not giving yourself enough credit? (BTW, I know I'm guilty of the same thing, depending on the time of day or whatever.)

I hope that my sense of identity keeps growing and evolving throughout my life--that I can be a floribunda bloomer.

Todd Wood said...

So do you think the oneness described in John 5:19 is something utterly unique and different to a husband and wife relationship?

I couldn't resist the question because of my current study in the text. :)

Téa said...


Téa said...


SLCDave said...

I sat next to you in the presentation and actually got him to email me the transcript. If you want it... email me david dot jarvi at gmail

his website at BYUI has some fun stuff on it too...

a comment that always stuck with me

"You can't have a WE ARE, until you have an I AM"

Also, from Stephen Covey he presents a very simplistic model that I've always remembered "Dependence, Independence, Interdependence"