Most of us on the spiritual path are familiar with the concept that our relationships act as a mirror of ourselves. We tend to project onto others what we can not accept as yet in ourselves. One of the benefits of being in a conscious relationship with another is helping each other retrieve these lost and rejected parts. This is difficult work, and while much of the time rewarding, it can also be incredibly frustrating and uncomfortable. Knowing that one purpose of relationship is to heal these wounded parts of ourselves can go a long way in making the process less confusing.
Many of my clients think that when they attract their ideal mate, they will also have a smooth time in relationship, because the mate is their Ideal. But, what I see happen more often is that once the initial bliss has passed, the couple jump (usually unconsciously) straight into deep healing work, called by most relationship experts the power struggle phase of relationship. And, unfortunately many of us can become stuck here.
What’s going on, and how do we stay conscious during this fragile time in the relationship? First, it’s important to realize that when we intentionally create a conscious relationship, which all my workshop participants do, we are inviting all things unconscious and destructive to arise into consciousness so we can make them constructive. And, anything that prevents us from having a good relationship at all will surface first.
A typical example that I’ve seen many times, including in my own relationships, is one in which one partner has abandonment or neediness issues. The person may even be aware of these abandonment issues, may have been in therapy for them, may have thought them through and know them backwards and forwards intellectually. But, what happens once they are in relationship with another is that the emotions arise as if they were new, and they find that the other person doesn’t respond in a way that can satisfy their neediness. The feelings of dependency and the need for reassurance increase to the point where no reassurance from the other is satisfying.
Interestingly, the type of person the needy partner attracts is usually one who is afraid of commitment. The commitment phobe will either attract a partner whose neediness will push the commitment phobe away, or attract a partner for which our commitment phobe feels no deep emotional connection. The commitment phobe may even understand all the reasons why he or she is afraid of marriage, but not realize why he (or she) can’t attract a suitable partner. The sure sign a commitment phobe (who actually craves connection) has met an ideal mate is that this person feels absolutely sure the ideal mate cannot be the ideal mate because the emotions are running so strong in the negative direction.
So, how do two people with these issues actually succeed in having a relationship at all? The key is to be aware of your patterns in the first place, and to stay conscious when the emotional roller coaster arises and the feelings of neediness or feelings of trapped-ness arise. And to not act out of these feelings or blame these feelings on the other partner. (Remember, your feelings are your responsibility). Speaking from first hand experience, this is a horrible emotional state to be in and it is very easy and tempting to fall unconscious. However, once I had chosen to stay with myself, burning consciously in these very uncomfortable emotions a few times, I found I was much less likely to act on my old patternings. Eventually I was able to immediately recognize the pattern without being affected at all. Feeling the emotions without trying to get rid of them or make them better or even analyze them did everything to release them from my system.
It is also helpful to have at least one partner conscious. Several times in my own courtship with my husband and I had to remind him of his pattern. He was so unconscious at first, he didn’t believe his pattern was being triggered. Eventually he was able to catch himself at it, and we were able to laugh about it when it came up. Once my husband got a better grip on his own pattern, I was able to delve more deeply into my own without triggering his. By taking turns in this way we were able to help each other move all the emotional stuckness out. Finally both our patterns, which seemed designed to play off each other, became non issues. (There are, of course, other possible push/pull patterns besides abandonment/fear of commitment. Rebel/tyrant is another common one.)
If both partners become triggered by old patterns, it’s pretty likely that the old issues will be acted out instead of addressed and healed. If this happens, once the pattern has run itself out, it’s important to come back to center and recommit to staying conscious the next time. Unfortunately, when both partners are triggered into acting from their old woundings, damage can be done to the partnership. It takes a committed and aware couple to come back to center and try again. I also remind myself and my clients that even if they left this particular relationship, they will probably go through the same thing with the next partner—our souls want to heal that badly.
Conscious relationship can be difficult at first, but speaking from experience, once these old issues are brought up in the relationship and healed, happiness and harmony will soon follow. Do not be discouraged if you are in the midst of the power struggle. Let your relationship act as a mirror to see those parts of yourself you cannot see on your own quite clearly as yet. And, if you are in between relationships, take this time as an opportunity to get to know your patterns so you have an easier time with the next relationship. Your commitment to consciousness will see you in successful partnership soon.
Would you like to know more? See The New Couple by Taylor and McGee