GETTING THE LOVE YOU WANT: A GUIDE FOR COUPLES

By Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.

ISBN 10: 0-8050-6895-3

Published by Henry Holt and Company

 

5 star must reading.   [The following is what I highlighted during my read of this excellent book -- I recommend it on my List of Peace resources.  My purpose in providing them is to interest you, the reader, and hope that you will obtain and read the complete work.  To properly understand the highlights, you need to read the book to put them in the proper context.]

 

 

Introduction to the Revised Edition

By  Harville Hendrix and Helen Lakelly Hunt

 

·         We  have  achieved its “promise of passionate friendship”. As we have been pleased to discover, being in a close and loving relationship is far easier than being in a strained or distant one.

·         In addition to having a passionate friendship, Helen and I also have what we call a “passionate partnership” because we are allies in our professional lives as well.

·         I wanted to know why couples were having such a difficult time staying together and why they were so devastated when their relationship fell apart.

·         “The way you’re talking about the centrality of relationships brings to my mind the I-thou of Martin Buber”

·         The she quoted a passage from Fyodor Dostoyevsky that she had committed to memory as a young woman:  “The man who desires to see the living God face-to-face does not seek God in the empty firmament of his mind, but in human love”.

·         When others would accept my ideas at face value, she would question my thinking or, more often, challenge me to deepen my understanding.

·         The combination of all this talent and energy has transformed Imago into a movement that should become a significant force for social transformation.

·         In the second half of the twentieth century, the old notion of marriage was no longer working for many couples.

·         But many  of the people in conventional marriages were also searching for a relationship that was larger, deeper, and more meaningful than their parents and grandparents had.

·         But the type of therapy that was offered at the time focused on the psyche of the individual, not on relationship dynamics.

·         One of  the reasons that Getting the Love You Want  and Imago Therapy had something to offer these couples is that I, too, had experienced the frustration of being in a relationship that had not lived up to its potential.

·         One of my main realizations was that the two individuals in a relationship need to let go of the illusion that they are the center of the universe and learn to see each other as equal partners. There are indeed two people in the relationship.  When two individuals surrender their centrality, something unexpected occurs – the relationship itself  becomes the center. Once that fundamental shift occurs, they can begin to work with the unconscious purpose of their relationship, not against it. They can begin to accept the fact that being in an intimate love relationship calls forth all the unresolved issues of their childhood, and that they can learn how to work together to resolve them.  We are born in relationship, we are wounded in relationship, and we can be healed in relationship. Indeed, we cannot be fully healed outside of a relationship.  This is the idea that resonated with so many couples.

·         Transferring authority from the therapist  to the couple.  In traditional therapy, one of the primary healing mechanisms involve “transference”.

·         Once transference occurs between client and therapist, the therapist can use that misidentification in a positive way to help the client resolve issues from the past.

·         Transference also occurs between couples in a love relationship.  In fact, there’s no way to avoid it.  Later on, as conflict emerges, you begin to project negative traits onto your partner.  This is typically when marriages fall apart.  “You’ve changed.  You’re not the person I married,” you say to each other. In reality, what has changed is not your partner, but the nature of the information you’re projecting onto your partner. 

·         Some couples are able to resolve the transference without outside help. But like most people, you may need to work with a structured set of exercises or a competent therapist.  The exercises or the therapist help create a zone of safety and provide the step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process.

·         The partnership dynamics we described in heterosexual couples applies to all intimate partnerships, regardless of their sexual preference.

·         “ The Couples Dialogue,”  and it has been expanded to include two additional steps – validation and empathy.

·         Your partner is an essential first step in exploring your  partner’s reality.  But by itself, it may not be sufficient to establish a profound sense of connection.  If you can go on  to confirm the validity of your  partner’s view and then empathize with his or her feelings (“I can see why you feel angry.”) you deepen the bond between you.  Or, as I say to couples, you go beyond mere contact to connection and then, ultimately, to communion.

·         “I’ve learned that my view of the world is no more true than my wife’s point of view.  In fact, when we combine our views, we create something more valid than either one of us can create alone.  We both give something up, only to gain great deal more.  It’s been a profound change in our marriage.”

·         Perhaps for the first time in our relationship of almost 28 years, we feel safe. As you will see, marriage is therapy-provided you honor its unconscious intent.

 

Introduction

 

·         The common solution to an unhappy marriage, the one chosen by nearly fifty percent of all couples, is to divorce and start all over again with a new and, it is hoped, better mate.  The problem with this solution is that there is a lot of pain involved in switching boxes.

·         And there is the emotional damage to the other inhabitants of the box – the children – who grow up feeling responsible for the divorce and wonder if they will ever experience lasting love.

·         Marriage is not static state between two unchanging people.  Marriage is psychological and spiritual journey that begins in the ecstasy of attraction, meanders through a rocky stretch of self-discovery, and culminates in the creation of an intimate, joyful, lifelong union.  Whether or not you realize the full potential of this vision depends not o your ability to attract the perfect mate, but on your willingness to acquire knowledge about hidden parts of yourself.

Personal History

·         A marriage relationship introduced a complex set of variables that I was not trained to deal with.

·         Time passed, and my despair turned into a compelling desire to make sense out of my dilemma.

·         Imago (ih-MAH-go) Relationship Therapy. My approach was eclectic.  I brought together depth psychology,  the behavioral sciences, the Western spiritual tradition, and added some elements of Transactional Analysis, Gestalt psychology, systems theory, and cognitive therapy.

·         When I began implementing my ideas, my work with couples became immensely rewarding. The divorce rate in my practice sharply declined, and the couples who stayed together reported a much deeper satisfaction in their marriages. 

·         “The Conscious Marriage,” a marriage that helps you satisfy your unmet childhood needs in positive ways.

 

The Unconscious Marriage    Part I

The Mystery of Attraction

The type of human being we prefer reveals the contours of our heart (Ortega y Gasset)

 

·         When Couples Come to me for marital therapy, I usually ask them how they met.

·         We will also have our first clues to the hidden psychological desires that underlie marriage.

·         Some biologists contend that there is a certain “bio-logic” to courtship behavior.

·         Women instinctively favor mates with pronounced “alpha” qualities.

·         Whether we like it or not, a woman’s youth and physical appearance and a man’s power and social status do play a role in mate selection.

·         Social psychology, and explore what is known as the  “exchange” theory of mate selection.  The basic idea of the exchange theory is that we select mates who are more or less our equals.

·         The exchange theory gives us a more comprehensive view of mate selection than the simple biological model.  It’s not just youth, beauty, and social rank that interests us, say the social  psychologists, but the whole person.

·         A third idea, the “persona” theory.  The persona theory suggests that we select a mate who will enhance this self-image. 

·         What accounts for the emotional devastation that frequently accompanies the breakup of a relationship.

·         We seem to have much more discriminating tastes than any of these theories would indicate.

·         Most people have been deeply attracted to only a few individuals

·         If you were to make a list of their predominate personality traits, you would discover a lot of similarities, including, surprisingly, their negative traits.

·         It appears that each one of us is compulsively searching for a mate with a very particular set of positive and negative personality traits.

 

Plumbing The Depths of the Unconscious Mind

·         We need to understand the role that the the unconscious mind plays in mate selection.

·         In this book I use the term “old brain” to refer to the portion of the brain that includes both the brain stem and the limbic system. Think of the old brain as being hard-wired and determining most of your automatic reactions.

·         I refer to the cerebral cortex as the “new brain” Your new brain is the part of you that is conscious, alert, and in contact with your daily surroundings.

 

Old-Brain Logic

·         Its main concern is self-preservation. Ever on the alert, the old brain constantly asks the primeval question: “Is it safe?”

·         The only thing your old brain seems to care about is whether a particular person is someone to: 1. Nurture, 2. Be nurtured by, 3. Have a sex with,  4.  Run away from,  5.  Submit to,  6. Attack. 

 

No Time like the Present

·         An important principle about the old brain: it has no sense of linear time.  Today, tomorrow, and yesterday do not exist; everything that was, still is.  Understanding this basic fact about the nature of your unconscious may help explain why you sometimes have feelings within your marriage that seem alarmingly out of proportion to the events that triggered them.

·         Your old brain is locked in an archaic perspective.

·         In fact, we appear to be searching for a “one and only” with a very specific set of positive and negative traits.

·         Is looking for someone who has the predominant character traits of the people who raised us.  Our old brain, trapped in the eternal now having only a dim awareness of the outside world, is trying to re-create the environment of childhood.

·         The reason the old brain is trying to resurrect the past is not a matter of habit or blind compulsion but of a compelling need to heal old childhood wounds. 

·         You fell in love because your old brain had your partner confused with your parents! Your old brain believed that it had finally found the ideal candidate to make up for the psychological and emotional damage you experienced in childhood.

 

Childhood Wounds

·         Freud correctly labelled us “insatiable beings.”  And no parents, no matter how devoted, are able to respond perfectly to all od these changing needs.

·         Contains an important clue to the hidden expectations you bring to marriage.

·         Martin Buber, a Jewish theologian, put it this way: “in fetal existence, we were in communion with the universe.”

·         We enter marriage with the expectations that our partners will magically restore this feeling of wholeness.

·         Their failure to do so is one of the main reasons for our eventual unhappiness.

·         “eros” a Greek word that we normally equate with romantic or sexual love but that originally had the broader meaning of “the life force.”

·         We all had a perilous pilgrimage through childhood.

·         The child experiences a primitive anxiety: the world is not a safe place.

·         When our partners are hostile or merely unhelpful, a silent alarm is triggered deep in our brains that fills us with the fear of death.

 

Fusers and Isolaters

·         Some children grow up with the opposite kind of parents, ones who push them away when they come running to them for comfort: “Go away, I’m busy.” “Go play with your toys.”

·         Their children grow up  feeling emotionally abandoned. Eventually they grow up to become what I call “fusers,”  people who seem to have an insatiable need for closeness.

·         Ironically, for reasons I will explore in late chapters, fusers and isolaters tend to grow up and marry each others, thus beginning an infuriating game of push and pull that leaves neither partner satisfied.

·         Like all children, you grew up  knowing the anguish of unmet needs and these needs followed you into your marriage.

 

The Lost Self

·         Another kind of childhood wound, an even subtler kind of psychic injury called “socialization,” all those messages we receive from our caretakers and from society at large that tell us who we are and how we have to behave.

·         We all have parts of ourselves that we have hidden from consciousness.  I call these missing elements the “lost self.”

·         In thousands of ways, both subtly and overtly, our parents gave us the message that they approved of only a part of us.  In  essence, we were told that  we could not be whole and exist in this culture.

 

Body Taboo

·         Important to know this simple fact:  when you were young, there were many, many times when limits were placed on your sensuality.  Like most children growing up in this culture, you were probably made to feel embarrassed or guilty or naughty that you had a body that was capable of exquisite sensation. To be a “good” boy or girl, you had to psychologically cut off or disown that part of yourself.

 

Tools of Repression

·         The way that parents influence their children most deeply, however, is by example.

·         Constructs an imaginary parent in his head to police his thoughts and activities, a part of the mind that psychologists call the ‘superego” Now whenever the child has a forbidden thought or indulges in an ‘unacceptable” behavior, he experiences a self-administered jolt of anxiety.  This is so unpleasant that the child puts to sleep some of those forbidden parts of himself-in  Freudian terms, he represses them.  The ultimate price of his obedience is a loss of wholeness.

 

The False Self

·         Whatever the nature of the false self, its purpose is the same: to minimize the pain of losing part of the child’s original, God-given wholeness.

 

The Disowned Self

·         Forged out of pain and become a part  of an assumed identity, an alias that helps him manoeuvre in a complex and sometimes hostile world.

·         But in order to maintain a positive self-image and enhance his chances for survival, he has to deny them. 

·         The “disowned self,” those parts of the false self that are too painful to acknowledge.

·         To keep it hidden, you had to deny it actively or project it onto others.

 

Plato’s Allegory

·         We cover our wounds with healing ointment and gauze in an attempt to heal ourselves, but despite our efforts an emptiness wells up inside us. 

·         This becomes a spiritual yearning for completion, and, as in Plato’s myth we develop the profound conviction that finding the right person – that perfect mate – will complete us and make us whole.

·         This person is invariably someone who has both the positive and negative traits of our parents!

 

Your IMAGO

·         Most people are attracted to mates who have their caretakers’ positive and negative traits, and, typically, the negative traits are more influential.

·         “You treat me just the way mother did!”

·         What your old brain was trying to do was re-create the conditions of your upbringing, in order to correct them.  Having received enough nurturing, to survive but enough to feel satisfied, it was attempting to return to the scene of your original frustration so that you could resolve your unfinished business.

·         Look around you, and you will find ample evidence that people choose mates with complementary traits.

·         What people are doing in these yin/yang matches is trying to reclaim their lost selves by proxy.

·         To guide you in your search for the ideal mate, someone who both resembled your caretakers and compensated for the repressed parts of yourself, you relied on an unconscious image of the opposite sex that you had been forming since birth.

·         The ones that were most deeply engraved were the ones that were most wounding.

·         The old brain, in its inability to make fine distinctions, simply filed all this information under one heading: the people responsible for our survival.

 

The Imago and Romantic Love

·         If you want to know what kind of person a client is married to, imagine his or her opposite.

·         Because they had numerous complementary traits, they had “falle in love.”

·         The reason that we are such instant judges of character is that we rely on what Freud called “unconscious perception.” We intuitively pick up much more about people than we are aware of.

·         When couples with weak imago matches terminate their relationships, it’s often because they feel little interest in each other, not because they are in great pain.

·         To the biological theory and the exchange theory and the persona theory discussed in chapter 1, we have added the idea of unconscious search for a person who matches our imago.

·         We also have new insight into marital conflict: if the primary reason we select our mates is that they resemble our caretakers, it is inevitable that they are going to reinjure some very sensitive wounds.  But before we sink into this quagmire of pain and confusion called “the power struggle.”

 

Romantic Love

·         Some people felt so good about themselves that for time they were even able to give up their substitute forms of gratification.

 

The Chemistry of Love

·         Lovers are literally high on drugs-natural hormones and chemicals that flood their bodies with a sense of well-being.

·         Enhancing a person’s sense of security and comfort.

·         Romantic love is a creation of the unconscious mind.

 

 

The Universal Language of Love

·         All the words exchanged between lovers since time began can be reduced to four basic sentences: the “phenomenon of recognition”, the “ phenomenon of timelessness”.  Being together seemed to put an end to his relentless search for completion.  The “phenomenon of reunification”, the “phenomenon of necessity.”

·         Someone is going to take care of them; they are no longer going to be alone.

·         Romantic love is old brain phenomenon.

·         There is same illusion of safety and security, the same total absorption.

·         The lovers believe they are going to be healed –not by hard work or painful self-realization.

·         They have rediscovered their lost self.

·         A person who was not allowed to be at ease with his or her sexuality will choose someone who is sensual and free.  When people with complementary traits fall in love, they feel as if they’ve suddenly been released from repression.

·         Lovers unknowingly transfer responsibility for their very survival from their parents to their partners. This same marvellous being who has awakened eros is now going to protect them from thanatos, the ever-present fear of death.

·         By attending to their unmet childhood needs, their partners are going to become allies in their struggle for survival.  On a deeper level, this sentence reveals the fear that, if the lovers were to part, the would lose their rediscovered sense of wholeness.

      They would once again be fractured, half –whole creatures, separated from the     

      fullness of existence.  Loneliness and anxiety would well up inside them, and they

      would no longer feel connected to the world around them.  Ultimately, to lose each  

      other would be to lose their new sense of self.

 

 

 

A Brief Interlude

·         They aren’t judging each other.

·         Lovers seem to divine exactly what their partners are lacking.

·         Being in love is like suddenly becoming the favored child in an idealized family.

·         For a while, lovers cling to the illusion of romantic love.

·         “Transference,” taking the attributes of one person and overlaying them on another.  It is especially easy for people to transfer their feelings about their parents onto their partners.

 

Home Movies

·         “Projection” Whenever we take a part of the disowned self or the lost self and send it out like a picture onto another person.

 

Romantic Love Defined

·         A mixture of denial, transference, and projection. John was ‘in love with Cheryl’ because:

  1. He had transferred his feelings about his mother onto her.
  2. He had projected his hidden rage onto her visible rage.
  3. He was able to deny the pain that she caused him.

·         Cheryl was not a real person with needs and desires of her own; she was a resource for the satisfaction of his unconscious childhood longings.  He was in love with the idea of wish fulfilment and like Narcissus – with a reflected part of himself.

 

Psyche and Eros

·         Romantic love does indeed thrive on ignorance and fantasy.  As long as lovers maintain an idealized, incomplete view of each other.

·         When you and I lit our lamps and took our first objective look at our lovers, we discovered that they weren’t gods at all-they were imperfect humans, full of warts and blemishes, all those negative traits that we had steadfastly refused to see.

 

The Power Struggle

·         When does romantic love end and the power struggle begin? As in all attempts to map human behaviour, it’s impossible to define precisely when these stages occur.

·         Have to satisfy a whole hierarchy of expectations, some conscious, but most hidden from their awareness.

·         Their partners are going to do it all- satisfy unmet childhood needs, complement lost self-parts, nurture them in a consistent and loving way, and be eternally to them. 

·         People don’t get married to take care of their partner’s needs – they get married to further their own psychological and emotional growth

·         The old brain that activates all the latent infantile wishes.  It is as if the wounded child within takes over. Says the child, “I’ve been good enough long enough to ensure that this person is going to stay around for a while.  Let’s see the payoff.”

·         But at some point husbands and wives wake up to discover that they’ve migrated to a colder climate.

 

Why Have You Changed?

·         A disturbing revelation.  At some point in their relationships, most people discover that some aspect of their partner’s character, a personality trait they once thought highly desirable, is beginning to annoy them.

·         But  as time passed, our partner’s complementary traits began to stir up feelings and attributes in us that were still taboo.

·         The very character trait that had once been so seductive to him was now perceived by his own brain as a threat to his existence.

·         Your partner’s negative traits, the ones that you had resolutely denied during the romantic phase of your relationship, were also beginning to come into sharp focus.

 

A Glimpse at a Painful Reality

·         I was flooded with the awareness that she didn’t have any physical or emotional energy for me.

·         I felt like an unwanted child.

·         At some point in their marriages, most people discover that something about their husbands or wives awakens strong memories of childhood pain. 

·         She had chosen someone wo resembled her father so she could resolve her childhood fear of being abused.

·         People either “pick imago matches, project them, or provoke them.”

 

Home Movies, Part II

·         Being to project our denied negative traits!

·         I defined these denied negative traits as the “disowned self.”

·         People also acquire negative traits by observing their parents.

·         But as the children become more self-aware, they recognize that these are the very traits they dislike in their parents, and they do their best to deny them.

·         Not only do the children manifest these negative traits themselves –although disowned and thus out of awareness – but when they grow up they also look for these traits in potential mates, for they are an essential part of their imagos.

·         People try to exorcise their denied negative traits by projecting them onto their mates.

·         Now we have defined the three major sources of conflict that make up the power struggle.

  1. Stir up each other’s repressed behaviors and feelings.
  2. Reinjure each other’s childhood wounds.
  3. Project their own negative traits onto each other.

·         All of these interactions are unconscious.  All people know is that they feel confused, angry, anxious, depressed, and unloved.  And it is only natural that they blame all this unhappiness on their partners. They haven’t changed-they’re the same people they used to be! It’s their partners who have changed!

 

 

 

Weapons of Love

·         In despair, people begin to used negative tactics to force their partners to be more loving.

·         They believe that, if they give their partners enough pain, the partners will return to their former loving ways.

·         The success of this tactic was turned into an “imprint,” a part of our stored memory about how to get the world to respond to our needs: “When you are frustrated, provoke the people around you.  Be as unpleasant as possible until someone come to your rescue.”

·         Clinging to a primitive view of the world.

·         When partners don’t tell each other what they want and constantly criticize each other for missing the boat, it’s no wonder that the spirit of love and cooperation disappears. In its place comes the grim determination of the power struggle, in which each partner tries to force the other to meet his or her needs.

 

Stages of the Power Struggle

·         The death of the illusion of romantic love.

·         First comes the shock. “This is not the person I thought I had married.”

·         After the shock comes denial. You feel betrayed. You are in pain, and you enter the fourth stage, bargaining.

·         The last stage of the power struggle is despair. When couples reach this final juncture, they no longer have any hopes of finding happiness or love within the relationship; the pain has gone on too long.

·         A very few, perhaps as few five percent of all couples, find a way to resolve the power struggle and go on to create a deeply satisfying relationship.

·         For the sake of clarity, I would like to reduce the discussion in these first five chapters to its simplest form.  First of all, we choose our partners for two reasons:

  1. They have both the positive and the negative qualities of the people who raised us.
  2. They compensate for positive parts of our being that were cut off in childhood.  We enter the relationship with the unconscious assumption that our partner will become a surrogate parent and make up for all the deprivation of our childhood.  All we have to do to be healed is to form a close, lasting relationship.

 

·         After a time we realize that our strategy is not working.  We are “in love,”  but not whole.  We decide that the reason our plan is not working is that our partners are deliberately ignoring our  needs.  They know exactly what we want, and when and how we want it, but for some reason they are deliberately withholding it from us.  This makes us angry, and for the first time we begin to see our partners’ negative traits.  We then compound the problem by projecting our own denied negative traits onto them.  As conditions deteriorate, we decide that the best way to force our partners to satisfy our needs is to be unpleasant and irritable, just as we were in the cradle.  If we yell loud enough and long enough, we believe, our partners will come to our rescue.  And, finally, what gives the power struggle its toxicity is the underling unconscious belief that, if we cannot entice, coerce, or seduce our partners into taking care of us, we will face the fear greater than all other fear – the fear of the death.

·         What may not be immediately apparent in this brief summary is this:  there is really very little difference between romantic love and the power struggle.  On the surface, these first two stages of marriage appear to be worlds apart.  A couple’s delight in each other has turned to hatred, and their goodwill has degenerated into a battle of wills.  But what’s important to note is that the underlying themes remain the same.  Both individuals are still searching for a way to regain their original wholeness, and they are still holding on to the belief that their partners have the power to make them healthy and whole.  The main difference is  that now the partner is perceived as withholding love.  This requires a switch in tactics, and husbands and wives begin to hurt each other, or deny each other pleasure and intimacy, in hopes of having their partners respond with warmth and love.

·         What is the way out of this labyrinth of confusion? What lies beyond the power struggle? In the next chapter, “Becoming Conscious,” we will talk about a new kind of relationship, “the conscious marriage,” and show how it helps husbands and wives begin to satisfy each other’s childhood longings.

 

The Conscious Marriage    Part II

Becoming Conscious

Seldom or never does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly without crisis.  There is no birth of consciousness without pain.  –C.G.Jung

 

 

·         Our unconscious drive to repair the emotional damage of childhood is what allows us to realize our spiritual potential as human beings, to become complete and loving people capable of nurturing.

·         Through the marriage of old-brain instincts and new-brain savvy, we can gradually leave the frustrations of the power struggle behind us.

·         Because you were willing to risk a creative response to anger, you have suddenly become a trusted confidant, not a sparring partner.

·         An important discovery:  in most interactions with your spouse, you are actually safer when you lower your defences than when you keep them engaged, because your partner becomes and ally, not an enemy.

·         Paradoxically, you do an even better job of satisfying the underlying purpose of this automatic defence, which is to keep yourself safe and unharmed.

·         A conscious marriage is a marriage that fosters maximum psychological and spiritual growth; it’s a marriage created by becoming conscious and cooperating with the fundamental drives of the unconscious mind: to be safe, to be healed, and to be whole.

·         Ten Characteristics of a Conscious Marriage

  1. You realize that your love relationship has a hidden purpose- the healing of childhood wounds.  When you look at marriage with this X-ray vision, your daily interactions take on more meaning.
  2. You create a more accurate image of your partner.  You gradually let go of the illusions and begin to see more of your partner’s truth.  You see your partner not as your saviour but as another wounded human being, struggling to be healed.
  3. You take responsibility for communicating your needs and desires to your partner.
  4. You become more intentional in your interactions.
  5. You learn to value your partner’s needs and wishes as highly as you value your own.  And divert more and more of your energy to meeting your partner’s needs.
  6. You embrace the dark side of your personality.
  7. You learn new techniques to satisfy your basic needs and desires.
  8. You search within yourself for the strengths and abilities you are lacking. You learn that the only way you can truly recapture a sense of oneness is to develop the hidden traits within yourself.
  9. You become more aware of your drive to be loving and whole and united with the universe.
  10. You  accept the difficulty of creating a good marriage.  In a conscious marriage you realize you have to be the right partner. You realize that a good marriage requires commitment, discipline, and the courage to grow and change; marriage is hard work.

 

Becoming a Lover

·         The psychological term for this tendency to put the source of our frustrations and the solutions to our problems outside ourselves is “externalization,”  and it is the cause of much of the world’s unhappiness.

·         All people in the world are strangers.  If you want a friend, you’re going to have to go out and make one!

·         The specific problem that had plagued Walter in his marriage was that he was caught up in concepts and ideas, not feelings.  He hid his vulnerability behind his formidable intellect, which prevented any genuine intimacy. 

·         He wasn’t sharing his feelings, that he was emotionally distant.

·         I could learn something about myself from listening to her.

·         When Walter had time to absorb this awareness, he developed more enthusiasm for the therapeutic process and was able to work on dismantling his emotional barriers.

·         He said, “it took me two years to learn one simple fact: that, in order to have a good relationship, you have to be willing to grow and change.

·         We are slow to comprehend that, in order to be loved, we must first become lovers.

·         To become a lover, we must first abandon the self-defeating tactics and beliefs that I’ve discussed in the first five chapters  and replace them with more constructive ones. We must change our ideas about marriage, about our partners, and, ultimately, about ourselves.

·         With so many years invested in habituated behaviors it’s only natural that they should experience a great reluctance to change.  After all, I am asking them not only to risk the anxiety of learning a new style of relating, but also to confront the pain and fear that have been bottled up inside them for decades-the reason for their dysfunctional behavior in the first place.

·         One of the first truths we can learn is the fact that most of us go through married life as if we were asleep.

·         We have forgotten who we are.

·         We lose sight of the fact that we are whole, spiritual beings. We live impoverished, repetitious, unrewarding lives and blame our partners for our unhappiness.

·         We are prisoners of the fear of change.

·         Rather divorce, break up the family, and divide up all their possessions than acquire a new style of relating.  Like the Israelites, they tremble in front of the Red Sea , even though the way lies open to them.

·         The enemy is within; it’s the denied and repressed parts of their being threatening to come to awareness.

·         We expect life’s rewards to come to us easily and without sacrifice.

·         And it is only when  we see marriage as a vehicle for change and self-growth that we can begin to satisfy our unconscious yearnings.

 

What Lies Ahead

·         This chapter marks a turning point in the book.

·         I’ve been describing the unconscious marriage, a marriage characterized by old-brain reactivity.  In the rest of the book, I will explain how to transform  your marriage into a more conscious, growth-producing relationship. 

·         Chapter 7 explores an old-fashioned idea, commitment, and explains why it is a necessary precondition for emotional growth.

·         Chapter 8 shows you how to turn your marriage into a zone of safety- a safe and secure environment that rekindles the intimacy of romantic love.

·         The only way to satisfy your childhood needs is to commit yourself wholeheartedly to the satisfaction of your partner’s needs.

 

Closing Your Exits

·         All I know with any certainty is that they are mired somewhere in the power struggle

·         They have journeyed past the romantic stage of marriage and become embroiled in conflict.

·         In order to be effective, marital therapy has to address fundamental conflicts.

·         Searching beneath surface phenomena for more primitive issues.

·         Unless they are aware of the nature of their problems, it’s difficult for them to resolve them.

·         One of the first rules is that couples have to agree to come to me for at least twelve consecutive sessions.

·         I know from my own experience, and from statistical surveys, that a majority of couples quit therapy somewhere between the third and the fifth appointments, which is about the time it takes for unconscious issues to begin emerge and for people to begin to experience some anxiety, As we all know.

·         My second order of business with couples is to help them define their relationship vision.  Achieving their vision is the goal of therapy.

·         Once the vision is defined, I ask couples to read it daily as form of meditation.

·         A second commitment, and that is to stay together for the initial twelve weeks of therapy.  The reason for this is obvious: marriage therapy isn’t possible if there is no marriage to work on.

 

Fuser-Isolater Dynamics

·         The one who feels relieved is usually the “fuser” in the relationship, the one who grew up with an unsatisfied need for attachment.

·         I explain that the no-exit decision tends to make the partner less invasive. “One of the reasons your partner is so needy of your attention,” I explain to the isolater, “ is that you’re not emotionally available.

·         Ironically, by making an agreement to stay within the relationship for three months, the isolater often ends up with more psychic space than before.

·         Every day of their married lives, husbands and wives push against an invisible relationship boundary in an attempt to satisfy their dual needs for autonomy and attachment.

·         There’s an invisible force field keeping husbands and wives a critical distance apart.

 

Non Catastrophic Exits

·         This game of push and pull.

 

The Invisible Divorce

·         To one degree or another, most couples who are involved in a power struggle follow a similar pattern: they structure their lives in such a way that true intimacy is virtually impossible.

·         An obvious question:  Why do men and women spend so much time avoiding intimacy? There are two very good reasons: anger and fear.

·         When they come to the realization that their partners are committed to their own salvation, not theirs, they feel angry and betrayed. A tacit agreement has been broken.  In retaliation they erect an emotional barricade.

·         Then they begin systematically to seek pleasure and satisfaction of their needs outside the relationship.

·         The wife who spends the entire evening reading to the children while her husband watches TV-both of these individuals are trying to find pleasure that is missing from their relationship.

·         The other reason couples avoid intimacy is fear, specifically the fear of pain.

·         Any person –whether parent or partner or next door neighbour –who is perceived by the old brain to be a source of need gratification is catalogued by the old-brain to be a source of pain, and that raises the spectre of death.

·         If your partner does not nurture you and attend to your fundamental needs, a part of you fears that you will die, and it believes that your partner is the one who is allowing this to happen.

·         The unconscious reason some people avoid their partners, therefore, is not that they’re scouting for greener pastures, but that they are fleeing death.

·         In most cases the fear of the partner is unconscious.

 

Closing The Exits

·         An exit is acting out one’s feelings rather than putting them into language. It withdraws energy and involvement from the relationship that belongs in the relationship.

·         It is important in the initial stages of the healing process that couples gradually draw their energy back into relationship.

·         Another reason for the resistance is that, as couples become more focused on each other, they often have to come face to face with their repressed disappointment, anger and fear.

·         To help couples overcome their resistance to becoming more intimate with each other, I rely on the principle known as “graduate change.” The idea behind this concept is that it’s easier to tackle a difficult task if it is divided into manageable units.

·         Paradoxically, that begins to close the exit, because it restores connection. One way couples can do this for the partner who is acting out to ask for dialogue (see the “Couples Dialogue” on p.261).

 

Till Death Do Us Part

·         When I lead couples through these series of commitment-an agreement to: 1.  Come to a minimum of twelve therapy sessions, 2.  Define a relationship vision,  3.  Stay together for a specified period of time, and  4.  Gradually close their exits-I let them know that all of these separate agreements ideally lead to a larger commitment: a decision to join together in a journey that will last the rest of their lives. 

·         In order to obtain maximum psychological and spiritual growth, they need to stay together not for three months or three years or even three decades, but for all of their remaining years.

·         Unless they understand the unconscious desires that motivated their dysfunctional behavior in the first marriage, and learn how to satisfy those desires with the new partner, the second marriage is destined to run aground on the same submerged rocks.

·         I have come to believe that couples should make every effort to honor their wedding vows to stay together “till death do us part”-not for moral reasons, but for psychological ones: fidelity and commitment appear to be conditions dictated by the unconscious mind.

·         Dedicating two and a half months of your time to improving your marriage may be all that you need to begin realizing your relationship vision.

 

Creating a Zone of Safety

·         Once a couple has made a commitment to stay together and to take part in a program of marital therapy,  the next logical step is to help them become allies, not enemies.

·         They need to become friends and helpmates.

·         Helping them artificially reconstruct the conditions of romantic love.  When two people treat each other the way they did in happier times, they begin to identify each other as a source of pleasure once again, and this makes them more willing to take part in intensive therapy.

 

Insight and Behavioral Change

·         I would have to play an active role in helping couples redesign their relationships.  Insight into childhood wounds is a critical element in therapy, but it isn’t enough.  People also need to learn how to let go of counterproductive behaviors and replace them with more effective ones.

 

Caring Behaviors

·         The exercise instructs husbands and wives to write down a list of positive, specific ways their partners can please them.

·         The behaviors were to be gifts. They were to view as an opportunity to pleasure each other, not as a bartering tool. And, most important of all, they weren’t to keep score.

·         “Reromanticizing” because it effectively restored the conflict-free interactions of romantic love.

 

Why Does It Work

·         “Painful injuries are overlaid with positive transactions, and the partner is no longer categorized as a bringer of death but as wellspring of life.

·         It helps people erode the infantile belief that their partners can read their minds.

·         Another consequence of the exercise is that it defeats the tit-for-tat mentality of the power struggle.

·         This need to be “gifted” comes straight out of our childhood.

·         It helps people see that what pleases them is the product of their unique makeup and life experience and can be very different from what pleases their partners.

·         “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”  This turns their random caring behaviors into “target” behaviors, behaviors that are designed to satisfy their partners’ unique desires.

·         This simple action is re-creating the vital parent-child bond.  I feel secure again, and the injury of my childhood is repaired in an adult relationship that has become a zone of love and safety.

 

The Surprise List

·         Random reinforcement, one of the principles of behavioral science, is the idea that a pleasurable stimulus loses its effectiveness if it’s repeated with predictable regularity.

·         The reason routine gifts aren’t as exciting is that the “psychoneurological system has become desensitized to predictable, repetitive pleasure.”

·         I created the idea of the Surprise List exercise.  These were caring behaviors above and beyond those requested by the spouse.  A person generated the list by paying close attention to the partner’s wishes and dreams.

·         When couples added unanticipated pleasures like these to their daily regimen of caring behaviors, the beneficial effect of the exercise continued on a gentle rise.

 

The Fun List

·         To engage in several high-energy, fun activities a week.

·         “Adult” activities; they had forgotten how to have fun together.

·         When couples have exuberant fun together their identify each other as a source of pleasure and safety, which intensifies their emotional bond.

 

The Fear of Pleasure

·         The only way to lower this automatic resistance to change is to repeat  a new behavior often enough so that it begins to feel familiar and therefore safe.

·         We told ourselves, “My parents limited my pleasure, so I must not have been worthy  of it.”

·         Gradually we developed a built-in prohibition against pleasure.

·         People who grew up experiencing a great deal of repression tend to have a particularly hard time with the Reromanticizing exercise.

·         His lack of comprehension was a cover-up for his inability to ask for something pleasurable.

·         It was also a way for his wife to learn how to become a more loving person – which happened to be true.  When it was put in this less self-serving context.

·         Isolaters often have a difficult time which this exercise.

·         ….doing is hiding behind the psychic shield they erected as children to protect themselves from overbearing parents.  They discovered early in life that one way to maintain a feeling of autonomy around their intrusive parents was to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves.

·         After a while, many isolaters do the ultimate disappearing act and hide their feelings from themselves.  In the end, it is safest not to know.

·         The fact of the matter is that both individuals have the identical need to be loved and cared for.  It’s just that one of them happens to be more in touch with those feelings than the other.

·         Given enough time and repetitions, the brain can adjust to a different reality.  The  person with low self-esteem can gradually carve out a more positive identity.  The isolater has a chance to discover that sharing secret desires desires does not compromise his or her independence.

 

Insight and Behavioral Change

·         …insight and behavioral change make powerful allies.

·         As you learn more about your unconscious motivations and transform these insights into supportive behaviors, you can create a more conscious and ultimately more rewarding relationship.

 

Increasing Your Knowledge of Yourself and Your Partner

·         Although we all agree in principle that our partners have their own points of view and their own valid perceptions, at  the emotional level are reluctant to accept this simple truth.

·         “implementing the therapeutic balance”

·         …that each of you has a valid point of view; second, that reality is larger and more complex than either of you will ever know.

·         If you respect each other’s point the view and see it as a way to enrich your own, you will be able to take clearer, more accurate pictures.

·         …binocular, not monocular vision.

 

Hidden Sources of Knowledge

·         Marriage gives you the opportunity to be continually schooled in your own reality and in the reality of another person.

·         You need to become more aware of the hidden agenda you bring to marriage, of your disowned character traits, of your partner’s inner world, and of the healing potential of  your marriage relationship.

·         An specially good area to mine for this hidden information is your spoken and unspoken criticisms of your partner.

·         …the truth of the matter is that they are often descriptions of parts of yourself.

·         ..the pain of hearing a criticism is largely due to its accuracy.

·         Principle 1: Most of your partner’s criticisms of you have some basis in reality.

·         How do I feel when my partner acts this way?

·         Did I ever have these thoughts and feelings when I was child?

·         Principle 2:  Many of your repetitious, emotional criticisms of your partner are disguised statements of your own unmet needs.

·         “In what way is my criticism of my husband also true of me?

·         …“owning” and “withdrawing” her projections.

·         Principle 3:  Some of your repetitive, emotional criticisms of your partner may be an accurate description of a disowned part of yourself.

·         When partners criticize each other for being too energetic, too sexy, too playful, too dedicated to their work, they are often identyfing undeveloped or repressed areas of their own psyches.

·         Principle 4:  Some of you criticisms of your partner may help your identify your own lost self.

 

Understanding Your Partner’s Inner World

·         In order to deepen your understanding of your partner’s subjective reality, you need to train yourself to communicate more effectively.

·         …semantics….language, each of you dwells in an idiosyncratic world of private meanings.

·         What he did wrong was assume that he  and his wife shared the same language.

 

Denial

·         …is denial: you simply refuse to believe what your partner has to say.

·         …an arsenal of weapons

·         …condemn.

·         ...”educate”

·         …threaten

·         …ignore

·         …analyze

·         In all of these responses, what we are trying to do is diminish our partners’ sense of self  and replace it with our own, self-serving illusion.

·         Instead of helping our partners repair this emotional damage, we are adding further injury.

 

The Couple’s Dialogue

·         First of all, it focuses your attention on the actual words your partner is saying.

·         Second, when you engage in dialogue with your partner and really listen to the words and search for their meaning, you discover that you live with another person whose inner experience is different from yours much of the time.

·         …you realize that you live with another person who is not an extension of you.

·         …creates a deep emotional connection between you and your partner.  When talking together reaches this profound level, it becomes a spiritual experience.

·         The three parts of the Couple’s Dialogue are called mirroring, validation, and empathy.

·         When one of you has something important to say, you begin by stating that thought or feeling in a short sentence beginning with “I.” 

·         Your partner restates the sentence in his or her own words and then asks if the message was received correctly

·         “Is there more?”

·         You continue with this process until you feel satisfied that you’ve conveyed your full message and that your partner has received it accurately.

·         It is such an unexpected luxury to have your partner’s full attention.

 

Validation

·         …affirm the internal logic of each other’s remarks.  In essence, they are telling each other, “What you’re saying makes sense to me.  I can see why you would think that way.”

 

Adding Validation to Mirroring

·         ….Rita wanted more than to be heard.  She wanted her thought processes to be validated.  She wanted her husband to tell her that her worldview made sense.

·         ….suspend his view of the world for a moment and make an honest effort to see hers.

·         “That’s all that I wanted to hear!” she said. “I haven’t heard that before, from you or from anybody! I’m not crazy! I make sense!”

·         Finally, someone was affirming her truth.

·         …you and I have our experience with connection.

 

Empathy

·         “Given the fact that you see things the way that you do, it makes sense to me that you would feel hurt.”

·         Once someone affirms their raw emotions, they begin to feel loved and whole.

·         …women tend to value empathy more than men.

·         …they’ve had to live with men who are relatively devoid of feeling.

·         ….gender differences begin  to diminish.

·         It is always surprising to me to see how quickly anger will dissipate once it’s been received and fully acknowledged.

 

Isn’t Dialoguing with Your Partner Tedious?

·         …if you want to move beyond communication to communion, then you need to include all three steps.

 

The Imago Workshop

·         …once you learn to open your eyes, every interaction between you and your partner, whether spoken or unspoken, can become a valuable source of information.

 

Defining Your Curriculum

·         One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others. -Lewis Carrol

·         Now is the time to talk about the healing of deeper childhood wounds.

·         Just as they grow accustomed to this more intimate, nurturing environment, however, a disheartening event occurs: conflicts begin to emerge…

·         …they are once again turning to each other for salvation.  And once again they make the unpleasant discovery that neither of them has the necessary skills or the motivation to meet the other’s deeper needs.  In fact, many people come to the sobering conclusion that what they want most from their partners is what their partners are least able to give.

·         ….unwilling to let go of my unfinished business.

 

Why Self-Love Doesn’t Work

·         The part of me that hurt couldn’t accept love from within  myself because I had externalized my source of salvation.

·         I concluded that the love we are seeking has to come not just from another person within the context of a safe, intimate relationship, but from a imago match –someone so similar to our parents that our unconscious minded has them fused.

·         If people were going to be healed. I conjectured, their partners would have to change.

·         …it also happened to be the precise area where that partner needed to grow!

·         ….In others words, in his efforts to heal his partner he would be recovering an essential part of himself!  The unconscious selection process has brought together two people who can either hurt each other or heal each other, depending upon their willingness to grow and change.

 

Turning the Theory into Practice

·         …the requests would be for potentially difficult changes in behavior…

·         In essence, they would be asking them to overcome their most prominent negative traits.

·         …not because they expected love in return but simply because their partners deserved to be loved.

·         ….to examine their criticisms…

·         This list of positive, specific requests would become the ongoing curriculum of their relationship.

 

Defining The Curriculum

·         The purpose of the exercise was to educate their partners, so that if their partners wanted to stretch into new behaviors they would have some specific guidelines.

·         The only legitimate power she had in the relationship was to inform Stewart of her needs and to change her own behavior to meet Stewart’s needs

Complex Change Set In Motion

·         The love that they are sending out to each other is touching and healing their own wounds.

·         ….a desire to be more intentional in his relationship.

·         …most husbands and wives have identical needs, but what is openly acknowledged in one is denied in the other.

·         Love of the self is achieved through the love of the other.

 

Rewards and Resistance

·         1. The partner who requested the behavior changes was able to resolve some childhood needs.

·         2.  The partner who made the changes recovered aspects of the lost self.

·         3.  The partner who made the changes satisfied repressed needs that were identical to the partner’s.

 

Resistance

·         …underneath every wish is a fear of having that wish come true.

·         …a part of you feels that you don’t deserve it

·         To silence this voice, you find ways to undermine you spouse’s behavior.

·         The way to overcome this fear, once again, is to keep on with the process.

·         …until their anxiety becomes more manageable.

·         …if he were to continue to change his behavior, he would feel anxious from time to time, but he wasn’t going to die.  He was not going to disappear, because he was not his behaviors, his values, or his beliefs.

·         …he would become more fully the person he was – the whole, loving spiritual being he had been as a child.

·         Ultimately the fear of death will no longer be an inhibiting factor in your campaign for self growth.

 

Agape

·         Marriage can fulfil you hidden drive to be healed and whole.

·         You have to moderate your old-brain reactivity with a more intentional, conscious style of interaction.  You have to stop expecting the outside world to take care of you and begin to accept responsibility for your own healing.  And the way you do this, paradoxically, is by focusing your energy on healing your partner.  It is when you direct your energy away from yourself and toward your partner that deep-level psychological and spiritual healing begins to take place.

 

Containing Rage

·         Some couples never fight.

·         “…at least not openly.”

·         …underneath this superficial calm and compassionate behavior was a sea of despair.

 

The Destructive Power of Anger

·         When we hurt  our partners, we invariably hurt ourselves.

·         There can be no intimacy because there is no safety.  The old brain will not allow its defences to be penetrated.

·         …repressed anger often creates an empty marriage.

·         I was not in touch with my own pain and anger.

·         Once I began to experience my own pain and the inevitable rage that accompanied it.

·         ..most of us grew up with the message that anger is a bad, destructive, or self-indulgent emotion.

·         But if we choose to dampen our anger, we also dampened our capacity of love, because love and anger are two sides of the same coin.

·         When we feel joyful, it is because our life energy is allowed to flourish. When we become angry, it is because our life energy has been thwarted.  We become angry when the promise of life is denied.

 

The Idea of Containment

·         How can we release our anger and not hurt the people we love? The answer is a process called “Containment.”

·         Your anger needs to be released in measured doses, ignited in a safe environment, and converted back into eros, its original, life-giving form.

 

The Container Transaction

·         Instead of arguing about the cause of your anger, your partner is trained to acknowledge its existence.

·         When your partner listens carefully, paraphrases your remarks, and then acknowledges the existence of your intense emotions, your need for attention is satisfied, the environment become safe and affirming, and your anger gradually dissipates.  The container Transaction  is not designed to eliminate the source of your anger-than can be done at a later date by requesting a specific behavior change.  The exercise simply affirms the reality of your emotions.

·         …you learn to interfere with your defensive reactions.

·         ..three ground rules: 1. Neither partner is allowed to leave the room until the exercise is completed.  2. Neither partner can damage any property or touch the other partner in a hostile manner.  3. The angry person must limit all remarks to a description of behavior, not a description of character. 

·         In a sense, the exercise is a license to be child again, only this time with a supportive, validating parent.  This deeper regression in a safe and loving environment can be very healing.

·         …you learn that your partner’s anger won’t harm you.

 

Core-Scene Revision

·         “Passive – aggressive”

·         …need to rewrite their play

·         Then they would need to read their new script over and over again so that the new options would be just a available to them as their habituated ones.

·         …she wants to be married to a vibrant, alive human being.

 

The Full Container

·         …this exercise, unlike the others, requires the supervision of a therapist and does not appear in Part III.

·         …it would take numerous encounters of this kind before her fear of being angry would go away.  The brain tends to favor messages that were laid down early in life over ones that are added later.

·         …ten or fifteen exercises.

·         …natural response was to let the sadness evolve into withdrawal and long-term resentment.

·         …the person whom she had unconsciously fused with her father.

·         …overpowered her father’s tyrannical voice.

·         …this was important work not only for you but for both of us.  Your lack of anger accommodates this whole unhealthy dynamic we have together.  It allows me to do anything I want to and know that I won’t have to face your anger.  I can be the irresponsible kid and know I won’t have to face any consequences.

·         …saint role

·         An important lesson she was learning was that Peter was not her father.

·         ..to one degree or another, we hide our true feelings from ourselves and from the people around us.

·         Yet, when it comes to our own repressed emotions, we cower in fear.  We fear that what is inside of us is dark, ugly, and over-powering.  But once we gain the courage to wrestle with this fear, we learn an astonishing fact:  what is hiding inside us is our own blocked  life energy.  It is love; it is light; it is the essence of God.  And releasing this energy is the ultimate purpose of love relationships.

 

Portrait of Two Marriages

·         …man’s spiritual wholeness is inextricably linked with his psychological wholeness.

·         What I’m talking about is a native spirituality, a spirituality that is a gift to us the moment we are conceived, a spirituality that we lose sight of in childhood but that can be experienced once again in adulthood if we learn how to deal old wounds.  When we regain awareness of our essential inner unity, we make an amazing discovery: we are no longer cut off from the rest of the world.  The universe has meaning and purpose, and we experience ourselves as part of a larger whole.

·         …one of the surest routes to this exalted state of being is the humble path of marriage.

·         …a journey of psychological and spiritual healing.

 

Integration

·         …overview of the entire process.

 

SUMMARY

·         The first step is become more conscious of our old wounds.  We look into the past for evidence of how we were denied adequate nurturing and how we repressed essential parts of our being. We do this through therapy, prayer, and reflection, and by becoming more astute observers of everyday events.  As we gather new insights, we share them with our partners, because we no longer assume they can read our minds.  When our partners share their thoughts and feelings with us, we listen with understanding and compassion, knowing that this sharing is a sacred trust.  Gradually we start to “reimage” our partners, to see them as they really are wounded children seeking salvation.

·         Once we have this more accurate image, we begin to redesign our relationships to heal our wounds.  To do this, we first build an atmosphere of safety and trust.  By closing our exits, renewing our commitment to each other, and deliberately pleasuring each other, we create a safe and nurturing environment.  We add to this feeling of safety and validation by learning to communicate openly and effectively.  As we overcome our resistance to this new way of relating, we begin to see our partners with even more clarity.  We learn that they have fears and weaknesses and desires that they have never shared with us.  We listen to their criticisms of us and realize that these illuminate our own darkness.  We tell ourselves: “My partner has something to say about me. There is probably a measure of truth in this comment.”  Gradually we come to accept the fullness, the dark and the light of our own being.

·         The next step in the healing process is perhaps the most difficult:  we make a decision to act on the information we are acquiring about ourselves and our partners and become our partner’s healers. We go against our instinct to focus on our own needs and make a conscious choice to focus on theirs.  To do this, we must conquer our fear of change.  As we respond to our partners’ needs, we are surprised to discover that, in healing our partners, we are slowly reclaiming parts of our own lost selves.  We are integrating parts of our being that were cut off in childhood.  We find ourselves regaining our capacity to think and to feel, to be sexually and spiritually alive, and to express ourselves in creative ways.

·         As we reflect on all that we are learning, we see that the painful moments in life are in reality opportunities for growth.  Instead of blocking the pain, we ask ourselves: “What  truth is trying to emerge at this moment?  What primal feelings are hiding beneath these feelings of sadness, anxiety, and frustration?” We learn that the underlying feelings are pain and rage and the fear of death, and that these feelings are common to us all.  Finally, we find a safe and growth-producing way to express these powerful emotions and no longer allow them jeopardize our relationships.

·         One by one, the elements of our marriage that were once unconscious-the fears, the anger, the childhood needs, the archaic pain-are brought to the surface, first to find acceptance, then, ultimately, to be resolved.  As our wounds heal and as more hidden parts of ourselves come into our awareness, we have a new sense of our inherent unity and wholeness.

 

Anne and Greg

·         “I went back into my old childhood pattern of taking care of myself, that old coping mechanism of mine of being totally independent.”

·         We were both growing individually,  but we weren’t integrating it back into our relationship.

·         We were dead.  Numb.  We wanted something from each other that we weren’t getting, but we didn’t know what that was.  We were both out of touch with our needs.

·         …wasn’t aware of my anxiety.

·         I may say I want peace, but the truth of the matters is, I want life to be challenging.

·         “I had never understood her pain before.”

·         …if he wanted more sex, he would have to ask for it.  “I had to be more direct about my needs.  She wasn’t going to read my mind.”

·         “I need and want massive doses of reassurance,”

·         “I love you.  You’re the person I want to be with. I want to live with you for the rest of my life.”

·         …become a more effective manager.  “I’ve gotten quite adept at spotting hidden agendas.”

·         My advice would be to focus on yourself,” “And when I say that, I mean you should realize that what you are doing for your partner is what you’re doing for yourself.  It’s about your own personal growth.  I finally learned that, when I was stretching to meet one of Greg’s needs.

·         …in meeting the needs of your partner you will be recapturing a part of yourself.”

 

Kenneth and Grace

·         …key developmental struggle was in the stage that child psychologists would label “the stage of individuation and autonomy.”

·         …goal in life was to get tender nurturing ……but at the same time he had to stay far enough away so that he would not be absorbed……he accomplished this delicate manoeuvre by giving Grace enough love and affection to keep her interested, but maintaining a crucial distance.

·         I finally made a full commitment to our marriage.

·         …increased acceptance of her has been the determining factor in her own acceptance of herself.

·         …the conscious marriage as a journey, not a destination.

·         “the conscious marriage.”  …a state of mind and a way of being based on acceptance, a willingness to grow and change, the courage to encounter one’s own fear, and a conscious decision to act in loving ways.  It is a marriage built on an entirely different foundation from the infatuation of romantic love, but the feelings are just as joyful and intense.

·         When we look at marriage in more detail, it is clear that the simple word “love” cannot adequately describe the wide variety of feelings two individuals can have for each other.  In the first two stages of marriage, romantic love and the power struggle, love is reactive; it is an unconscious response  to the expectation of need fulfilment.  Love is best described as eros, life energy seeking union with gratifying object.  When a husband and wife make a decision to create a more satisfying marriage, they enter a stage of transformation, and love becomes infused with consciousness and will; love is best defined as agape, the life energy directed toward the partner in an intentional act of healing.  Now, in final stage of marriage, reality love, love takes on the quality of “spontaneous oscillation,” words that come from quantum physics and describe the way energy moves back and forth between particles.  When partners learn to see each other as highly as they value themselves, to give without expecting anything in return, to commit themselves fully each other’s welfare, love moves freely between them without apparent effort.  The word that best describes this mature kind of love is not “eros,” not “agape,” but yet another Greek word, “philia,” which means “love between friends.”  The partner is no longer perceived as a surrogate parent, or as an enemy, but as a passionate friend.

·         When couples are able to love in selfless manner, they experience a release of energy.  They cease to be consumed by the details of their  relationship, or to need to operate within the artificial structure of exercises; they spontaneously treat each other with love and respect.  What feels unnatural to them is not their new way of relating but the self-centered, wounding interactions of the past.  Love becomes automatic, much as it was in the earliest stage of marriage, but now it is based on truth of the partner, not on illusion.

·         One characteristic of couples who have reached this advanced stage of consciousness is that they begin to turn their energy away from each other toward the woundedness of the world.  They develop a great concern for the environment, for people in need, for important causes.  The capacity to love and heal that they have created within the marriage is now available for others.  I have found no better description of this rare kind of love than in Corinthians13:

·         Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects.  It always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.