Part 3 – Being “Strong’ in Relationship

Issue 98 –

Where Has Love Gone: Part 3

Being “Strong” in Relationship


Hal & Sidra Stone


Ed  and  Clara  were  at  the  same  party  that  Bea and  Al attended.  Ed has also been flirting, though not to the extent of Al in our previous example. Clara is committed to expressing her feelings, and she lets Ed know when they get homethat she is angry with him and that she is not going to “take any of this kind of crap” and that “two can play this game as well as one.”

Ed has a difficult time standing up for his sexuality. He generally acts in the world as though sexuality does not exist in him except  for his marriage  partner.  He  also is very intimidated  by Clara’s  anger.  She has had  a considerable amount  of  therapy  and  has  learned how to  express her feelings  very  well.   He  immediately  falls into  the  guilty/ victim son to her attacking mother.

Why  might  her  reactions  be  called  attacking  mother rather than just the clearly stated reactions of a woman who is unhappy with her husband’s  behavior? This is a very important question,  and there is no simple answer. Here we must rely on the quality  of the reaction.

There  is a  sound,  an energy, a vibration,  a feeling that one begins to tune into that makes it relatively  clear as to  what  part  of the  person  is expressing the reaction.

One thing  to keep in mind  is that from the level of awareness and the aware ego, there is no need to dominate and control anyone. Reactions that come from an aware ego do not have hooks in them.  They  are not meant to hurt  or control people.

Reactions that come from  the bonding spaces of the parental voices do just the opposite.  They always operate in relationship to a dominance/submission pattern. They always have the effect of controlling the environment.

Invariably  one finds that  if one person falls into a bonding pattern,  the other person is in the complementary  pattern.  In this situation, if Ed falls into the guilty son, then it is a clear indication that Clara has identified with the negative mother or the revengeful mother.

The  ability  to react  in relationship  is very important, something that all of us must eventually learn how to do.  As important as it is to learn how to have access to one’s emotional reactions, Clara and Ed provide a clear example that it is too simplistic to state as a rule of thumb that one should always express one’s emotions.

Clara had learned how to express her feelings very well indeed ;  the problem was that she  never learned how to express her vulnerability. Her constant reactions came from a powerful parent within her and they masked the underlying vulnerability that lived in her.

“Being strong” had become her primary self and she had learned how to be powerful.   She had not as yet become empowered. This next step can happen  only when  her awareness level separates from the power side, and only then does she have the chance to embrace bothpower and vulnerability.  The effect of her reaction on Ed would be totally different under these circumstances and would lead to a totally different kind of discussion between them.

We are describing here a very sophisticated understanding of personal relationship. It is because of these bonding patterns that  we find  it very  difficult  to give advice  to people about what they should  do or say in their  personal interactions.  There are people who are constantly reacting in their relationships.  They  share  everything  and yet their relationships do not  work.

The issue is not what is shared but who shares it !  What part is giving the reaction?

A reaction that channels through a negative mother will polarize the partner into a frightened, guilty, or rebellious son. A reaction given through a guilty  son will activate  the negative mother  in some form.

Where does it all begin? What self cues off the other self in the partner? It is generally quite difficult to discover how it all begins. It is an interaction that goes on over time, and each of us discovers it at a certain moment.

During the course of our own personal relationship, we have tended to stop worrying about causality. Instead, when we become aware of a bonding  pattern, we simply take it where it is  and examine it as best we can.  There is a certain amount of blaming and righteousness that is natural in these bonding patterns.

Over  time, however,  we tend to spend less time blaming, since it only delays separating from the bonding pattern itself.   The righteousness that we feel must also be honored, however, as long as it needs to be present. It is a basic companion of the judgmental parent states, so when it is relentlessly present we might just as well accept it and enjoy it.