Consciousness In A Relationship

Guest blog by Linda Miles, Ph.D.
Author of The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

"...together our minds fuse into something whose power is far beyond the power of its separate parts." 
- From A Course In Miracles

For intimate couples, it is important to be aware of the energy that is created between partners during the romantic phase of their relationship. This energy is greater than the sum of the parts. It shines brightly and life is viewed as a beautiful kaleidoscope - catapulting them to a higher consciousness. Jungian analyst, Robert Johnson, observed that falling in love is meant to be an initiation into a world much greater than the individual-an introduction to the ideals of love, truth, and beauty that transcend ordinary life. Unfortunately, we are not usually mindful of this energy or how to manage it.

During the romantic phase, partners view each other in an idealized manner. They perceive only beauty, goodness, and love in each other and the world. They do not perceive any differences between themselves and their partner.

In time, when couples become aware of differences and faults in one another, they fail to realize their partner is a symbol and a catalyst for the poetry of life. Months or years later when they are entrenched in a power struggle, their partner becomes a cardboard cut-out on which they now project threatening characters from their own past. Such perceptions launch soulless, automatic, rigid, right-wrong games that separate partners from one another and from the positive transcendent potential of their combined consciousness. 

At this stage of the relationship, the destructive tendency of the partners is to focus on the individual differences instead of the creative potential of their combined consciousness. Most of us can recall times when we have walked into a room and felt the negative energy lingering after a couple had a fight.

Couples come into my practice wishing for me to be a judge of their individual differences instead of being a guide to help them learn to manage the potentially creative, and at the same time destructive, power that often unconsciously exists between them.
I suggest the following for couples in such distress: 

     1. Focus on the process between yourselves instead of individual differences. 
     2. Work on accepting the imperfections of yourself and your partner while looking for deeper meaning in repetitive arguments. 
     3. Get curious about patterns you have learned in your early years that you now project onto your partner. 
     4. Learn to use the relationship's combined energy for creative life enhancement instead of destructive maneuvers. 
     5. Work to make each other's lives larger instead of smaller. 

It can also be very productive for couples to co-create a picture of what their ideal relationship could be like and to visualize that image daily. It also works for them to make a commitment to not participate in destructive interactions that damage and may ultimately destroy their shared consciousness.

In Embracing The Beloved, psychotherapists Stephen and Ondrea Levine write about how in a spiritual here and now process, they view one another as "beingness" constantly unfolding. And they refer to their combined consciousness as a "beloved energy."

It can be a difficult process to transform our power struggles into creative energy. As Thomas Merton wrote, "...true love and prayer are learned in the moment when prayer has become impossible and the heart has turned to stone."

Jungian analyst, Marion Woodman, describes the first time she saw her husband free of her own projections after years of marriage. She heard him rattling around in the kitchen attempting to poach an egg. At first she began to think in terms of her "shoulds" and became judgmental of his inadequacy in the kitchen. She then let go of all judgment and for the first time was able to see him as himself, standing on spindly legs in Bermuda shorts, holding an imperfect poached egg. As she watched him, she felt profound love.

The Levines refer to this type of watching as "soft eyes" because you watch without any judgment- with compassion and loving kindness.