Selection from Chapter 11 “The Marriage Relationship”
in Theistic Psychology (2004) by
First read the following delightful story from Swedenborg's book Conjugial Love (1743). I will then comment on what information we can extract from it.
CL 56. The second account:
One time, while speaking with angels in the
spiritual world, I was filled with a pleasant wish to see the
They said, "Follow the light, and you will find it."
And I said, "What do you mean, follow the light?"
They said, "Our light grows brighter the closer we get to that temple. Follow the light, therefore, in the direction it grows brighter. For our light emanates from the Lord as the sun of this world, and so, regarded in itself, that light is wisdom."
In the company of two angels I then went in
the direction that the light grew brighter, and I ascended by a steep path to
the top of a certain hill which was in the southern zone, where I found a
magnificent gate. When the guard saw the angels with me, he opened it, and
behold, I saw an avenue of palm trees and laurels, which we followed. The
avenue curved around and ended up at a garden, in the middle of which stood
As I looked around in the garden, I saw some smaller buildings, replicas of the temple, with wise men in them. We went over to one of the buildings, and we spoke at the entrance with the receptionist there, telling him the reason for our coming and the way we had arrived. And the receptionist said, "Welcome! Come in, have a seat, and let us spend some time together in conversations of wisdom."
 I saw inside that the building was divided into two sections, and yet the two were still one. It was divided into two sections by a transparent partition, but it looked like one room because of the partition's transparency, which was like the transparency of the purest crystal. I asked why it was arranged like that.
The receptionist said, "I am not alone. My wife is with me, and though we are two, yet we are not two but one flesh."
To which I replied, "I know you are wise, but what does a wise man or wisdom have to do with a woman?"
At this, with some feeling of annoyance, the receptionist's expression changed, and he stretched out his hand, and suddenly, then, other wise men were present from the neighboring buildings. To them he said with amusement, "Our visitor here says he wants to know what a wise man or wisdom has to do with a woman!"
They all laughed at this and said, "What is a wise man or wisdom apart from a woman or apart from love? A wife is the love of a wise man's wisdom."
 But the receptionist said, "Let us join together now in some conversation of wisdom. Let the conversation be about causes, today the reason for the beauty in the female sex."
So they then spoke in turn. And the first speaker gave this reason, that women were created by the Lord to be forms of affection for the wisdom in men, and affection for wisdom is beauty itself.
The second speaker gave this reason, that woman was created by the Lord through the wisdom in man, because she was created from man, and that she is therefore a form of wisdom inspired by the affection of love. And because the affection of love is life itself, a woman is a form of the life in wisdom, while the male is a form of wisdom, and the life in wisdom is beauty itself.
The third speaker presented this reason, that women have been given a perception of the delights in conjugial love. And because their whole body is an instrument of that perception, the abode where the delights of conjugial love dwell with their perception cannot help but be a form of beauty.
 The fourth speaker gave this reason, that the Lord took beauty and grace of life from man and transferred them into woman, and that is why a man not reunited with his beauty and grace in woman is stern, severe, dry and unattractive, and also not wise except for his own sake alone, in which case he is a dunce. On the other hand, when a man is united with his beauty and grace of life in a wife, he becomes agreeable, pleasant, full of life and lovable, and therefore wise.
The fifth speaker gave this reason, that women were created to be beauties, not for their own sake, but for the sake of men, so that men's natural hardness might become softer, the natural solemnness of their dispositions more amiable, and the natural coldness of their hearts warmer. And this is what happens to them when they become one flesh with their wives.
 The sixth speaker offered this reason, that the universe created by the Lord is a most perfect work, but nothing is created in it more perfect than a woman attractive in appearance and becoming in behavior, in order that a man may thank the Lord for such a gift and repay it by receiving wisdom from Him.
After these and several other similar views were expressed, one of the wives appeared through the crystal-like partition, and she said to her husband, "Speak, if you wish."
And when he spoke, the life in his wisdom from his wife was perceived in his speech, for her love was in the tone of his voice. Thus did experience bear witness to the truth expressed.
After this we looked at the
Let us now analyze this passage. The following facts can be extracted.
(1) Wisdom is the state of becoming
enlightened when men and women receive spiritual light into the natural mind.
Their mind is then like a paradise of lovely gardens, such as appear around
the dwelling places of couples in conjugial love. The spiritual light
enlightens the natural mind when we read the Writings, acknowledging it as the
Divine Truth spoken by the Divine Human and expressed in a natural language.
This is the meaning of the "
(2) The mind of the conjugial husband is not independent or single. It is always filled with the wife's affections and wishes. There is never a moment when the wife is not present in the conjugial husband's mind because he continuously cleaves to her affections and wishes that he memorizes, internalizes, and appropriates as-if they were his own. Her mental presence in his mind creates a conjoint mind in which there is a "transparent partition" so that the two minds form a conjoint self, just like two rooms separated by a glass partition look like just one room. But when the husband acts from his own affections and wishes, his mind and her mind are divided by a brick wall, not a transparent partition. He cannot become a conjugial husband as long as he is unwilling to align his thinking in accordance with her affections and wishes, thereby removing the brick wall and installing the transparent partition.
(3) "A wife is the love of a wise man's wisdom." In a conjugial couple, it is the wife who supplies the will for the couple's interactions with each other. The husband who is practicing being conjugial does not wish to act from his own will, but from his wife's will only. This means that he desires to consult his wife's affections and wishes before he can rightly act through his own wisdom and understanding. He does not wish to act or decide anything on his own, from his own understanding and inclinations, until he has aligned them to be acceptable and harmonious to his wife's affections and wishes. It says that a wife is the love of a "wise man's" wisdom because if the husband is not a "wise man," the conjugial wife cannot be the love of his unwisdom. When a husband goes after his own affections and understanding, which are contrary to the wife's wishes, he is in unwisdom. The wife cannot be the love of that unwisdom.
(4) The wife "is a form of wisdom inspired by the affection of love." The wife's affections and wishes are expressions of her conjugial love which she has in herself inborn from nativity. The wife's conjugial love is continuously renewed and received from the Lord on a moment by moment basis from birth to eternity. It says that a wife is a "form of wisdom" because conjugial love creates in her the highest form of human wisdom called "Sarah" in the Word (Abraham's wife). The husband is born a form of wisdom which is spiritual wisdom, and therefore is a lower form of wisdom than the wife's wisdom, which is celestial. This is why in conjugial couples, it is the husband who aligns his understanding to the wife's understanding in all things pertaining to their relationship and interactions. Higher loves receive higher wisdom and conjugial love is the highest of all loves. Hence it is that wives have the highest wisdom. Therefore husbands who practice becoming conjugial acknowledge and follow their wife's wisdom, honoring it above their own. Husbands who honor their own understanding above that of their wife are not becoming conjugial.
(5) The wife "is a form of the life in wisdom." Whatever wisdom the husband has is useless and is not genuine wisdom, unless "the wife is the life of his wisdom." The conjugial husband always has his wife's life in his mind by internalizing her affections and wishes so that these now rule his mind, not his own affections and wishes that are separate from his wife or contrary to his wife. It says that a wife is the "life" in wisdom because the conjugial husband stores his wife's affections and wishes in his wisdom. If he fails to do this then the husband's own affections and wishes are in his own wisdom. And in that case he is neither a conjugial husband nor a wise one. The wife cannot be the life or love of this husband's lack of wisdom.
(6) The wife is empowered by the Lord to receive "a perception of the delights in conjugial love." Her entire body is a receptor organ ("instrument") that receives conjugial love from the Lord. Her intelligence, wisdom, and perception are the expressions of this love. This is also why the wife is a form of beauty, because beauty is the outward form of her celestial wisdom. The husband is in conjugial cold when he relies on his own wisdom in which are his own affections. But when he internalizes his wife's affections and wishes (that is, her love), then he thinks and acts from her love, and he is called "a wise man." The wife can then conjoin her conjugial love to his genuine wisdom and as a result, his mind becomes like a paradise garden in which conjugial love flows into him from his wife's affections, which he has internalized, honored, and appropriated to be as-if his very own.
(7) A husband who thinks from himself independently of or contrary to his wife's affections and wishes, is not wise and not attractive. He is then "not wise except for his own sake alone," which is a "dunce." But when he makes his understanding and wisdom to agree with his wife's affections and wishes, "he becomes agreeable, pleasant, full of life and lovable, and therefore wise." A husband is said to act "for his own sake alone" when he is acting from his own affections and wishes, despite their being contrary to his wife's affections and wishes. He is then not a wise man but a foolish man (or "dunce"). The wife cannot be conjoined to a foolish husband because her conjugial love can only be conjoined to genuine wisdom.
(8) A husband who is not aligned with his wife's affections and wishes is "naturally cold" but when he compels himself to be in agreement with her wishes, he becomes "softer" and his "heart becomes warmer." When husbands align their wisdom to agree with their wife's wishes, "they become one flesh with their wives." The essence of conjugial love, its peace and happiness, lies in the husband becoming "one flesh" with his wife. This means that he voluntarily realigns his thinking to always agree with her affections and wishes.
(9) When a husband thinks and speaks in agreement with his wife's wishes, "her love is in the tone of his voice." It is said that "her love" is in "his voice" because the tone of voice expresses the speaker's love. For a conjugial husband, the wife's love is in his will and understanding when he aligns them to be in agreement with his wife's feelings and wishes. But when the husband does not align his thoughts to agree with his wife's wishes, he is not a conjugial husband, and when he speaks, the absence of the wife in his affections is marked by a harsh and severe tone, or else, an insincere or hypocritical one.