Creating a Conscious Relationship

Have you ever wondered why some couples, over time, remain warm, connected, affectionate and close to each other, while so many other couples flounder?

Want to learn their secret?

Many factors go into creating a happy, long-term relationship: effective communication, the ability to resolve differences so that both partners feel valued and honored, affection, endearments, shared interests, compatible lifestyles and affable temperaments, to name a few.  But one usually overlooked factor in creating a successful union between two people involves co-creating a conscious partnership together.

Huh?  What is a conscious partnership?  Authors Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, in a recent interview, have defined a conscious relationship as consisting of the following traits :

  1. Emotional safety.  Most of us know that a relationship asks us to be vulnerable and to take emotional risks.  But what most of us don’t know is that all human beings have been, to a greater or lesser degree, wounded growing up—and that you are now in the position of supplying for your partner what was emotionally, physically and spiritually missing in his or her childhood.  To supply such big things requires us to be empathetic to our partner’s wounds, needs, longings and requests—and to remove our negative judgments and criticisms when communicating with each other.  Being emotionally safe asks of me to dialogue with my partner about virtually everything that’s important to both of us, for me to listen before responding—and for me to remove my reactivity, defensiveness and negativity from our dialogues.
  2. To stay focused on the relationship and the partnership rather than on myself and my own needs.  What does our relationship need?  More fun?  Time together?  Sleep?  Entertainment?  Sex?  A vacation?  Each of us takes it upon ourselves to become the guardian of our relationship, protecting and maintaining the connection between us.
  3. Always maintaining connection.  I talk in such a way that I maintain connection, and if ever I rupture our connection, I’ll talk and behave in ways that will restore if as fully as I can.
  4. To experience the joy of being alive together.  Expressing joie de vivre with each other, which may include fun, entertainment, recreation, sex, the raising of children, having and maintaining a home, facing life’s challenges together, romantic pleasures, affection and the various people and things we feel passionate about, among other things.
  5. Giving inordinately.  Not keeping score between what I’m giving and what I’m receiving.  Loving my partner even in his/her unlovliness, and not holding shortcomings over his/her head.  Love begets love.  No matter what traumas or pressures are otherwise going on in my life, it’s my job to figure out how to restore myself and keep my own balance so I can be loving toward you.
  6. Treating your partner as another person and not as an extension of yourself.  Most people haven’t figured out that their intimate partner isn’t an extension of themselves that isn’t cooperating. 

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