This is a hypothetical reading using my “Match Game” Relationship Dynamic Spread. It portrays an old-fashioned patriarchal (that is, “male-dominant”) marital relationship; at my age I’ve seen plenty of those going back to the 1950s. Essentially, the man calls all the shots and the woman pretty much sucks up whatever he deals out. (I might call it “classical” if it wasn’t so dysfunctional in humanistic terms.) I used two Tarot de Marseille decks for this reading since I’m always looking for useful ways to bring it into my divinatory practice. I don’t normally use reversals with the TdM but I accidentally introduced them here and they do seem to add value to the narrative in spots. The two “Significator” cards at the left aren’t part of the reading and just indicate which line is the “Man” and which is the “Woman.” The decks are the Conver Ben-Dov (top) and the Fournier (bottom).
Commonality of Interests:
Man: Wheel of Fortune
Woman: Queen of Cups
Judgment: He is the free-wheeling alpha-male type chasing his fortunes out in the world, while she is more the “stay-at-home” wife. (In the ’50s she would typically have been a home-maker, but among the more affluent a “kept” woman.)
Man: 8 of Cups reversed
Woman: 5 of Cups reversed
Judgment: They are pretty much on the same page in their staid outlook on life, but he has more emotional capital invested in his personal trajectory than she does, and is also more restless.
Sense of Attachment:
Man: 3 of Swords reversed
Woman: 2 of Cups
Judgment: She clearly feels it more than he does. At times it may seem that he just “suffers her presence” and goes through the motions in a calculated way to keep the peace.
Sense of Respect:
Woman: 9 of Swords
Judgment: There’s no question “who’s the boss” in this relationship. He’s the “center of the Universe” and she is frequently put on the defensive as his “satellite.”
Sense of Duty/Obligation:
Man: Pope (Hierophant)
Woman: 7 of Swords
Judgment: He flatters himself as “the Great Provider” and she has to cope with his outsized expectations for her gratitude; still, she finds resourceful ways to get what she wants.
Emotional Bond/Love Factor:
Woman: Five of Coins/Pentacles
Judgment: He loves the “grand idea” of being in a committed relationship (it’s what men “of a certain age” were expected to do); but she just loves the sense of security it gives her, although it’s not without cost to her self-respect.
Man: 10 of Cups
Woman: Valet/Page of Batons/Wands reversed
Judgment: He can seem smothering at times and bored at other times; she usually feels more detached and “at loose ends.”
Man: Queen of Coins/Pentacles
Woman: 8 of Cups
Judgment: He takes his role of provider seriously, and she is perfectly willing to accept the proffered largess with little fanfare.
Health & Happiness Factor:
Woman: King of Coins/Pentacles reversed
Judgment: He could be a heart-attack or stroke waiting to happen; she is unflappable, looking after her own interests and not letting his occasional outbursts rattle her too much (although they can sometimes be excessive).
Man: Queen of Batons/Wands
Woman: 3 of Cups
Judgement: He can be kind and generous when it suits him; she is an inherently gentle soul (or maybe she’s just been brow-beaten into it).
Man: King of Batons/Wands
Woman: King of Cups reversed
Judgment: He’s the “master of ceremonies” who initiates the fun-and-games, and she tags along to please him even if she isn’t too excited about the prospect.
Man: Hanged Man
Woman: Ace of Batons/Wands
Judgment: He isn’t exactly a “ball of fire” in bed; she, on the other hand, would like to get more of a “rise” out of him and thus feels some frustration.
Summary: This looks like a prototypical post-WW2, “Eisenhower-era” relationship (typical of what George Carlin once called the “man-on-top-get-it-over-with-quick” generation), that today is universally decried as atavistic and pathologically demeaning for the woman. (* As Mel Brooks’ royal buffoons invariably exclaimed, “It’s good to be the king!”) With all of the trump cards in his line, the man is undoubtedly the dominant partner here and the woman, with three reversed court-cards, plays a subordinate role. They seem so comfortably (and irretrievably) entrenched that it’s difficult to know what advice to give for rehabilitation; he wouldn’t recognize the need and she wouldn’t see an acceptable alternative. Maybe she just needs a “backdoor man?”
Fortunately, most of us have moved on from this dismal paradigm.