janus: one face looks to the furture and the other to the past, signifies transitions and ...


Many relationship conflicts are conflicts of virtues.  Virtues come in opposing pairs.  If a man is particularly alive to a virtue, it is likely to be the case that he has a harder time recognizing the vice that distorts the virtue.  If he is particularly alive to a virtue, it is likely he can see even the faintest hint of the opposing vice, and reacts in horror.  Which means  he has a harder time seeing the opposing virtue.


So when a husband and wife have opposing virtues–and they will, somewhere–each one is particularly likely to stray into the vice that is paired with the virtue, and each one is particularly likely to sound the alarm at the opposing virtue even when there isn’t much of the vice in it if at all.

Because our  natural virtues and natural vices are often the results of some character trait that is  neither good nor bad in itself.   The angel in the Great Divorce asks the man who carries his sin around with him in the form of a whispering reptile for permission to kill it.  The man is terrified, there is dialogue, and finally the man agrees in a whimper.  The angel slashes . . . but when the lizard falls dead, it transforms into a unicorn that the man rides off on.  The virtue is the redeemed face of the vice.  The vice was the corrupted form of the virtue.

It takes a lot of effort to see the virtue that opposes yours, and the vice that accompanies yours.  But it is part of the process of refining your virtue, making it more virtuous.  And beyond that, of achieving the higher virtue that is usually the synthesis between the two opposing virtues.

Here is an example.  Men are generally more risk-taking, so I picked an example that fits lots of marriages.

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