Issue 34 – April 2008
Partnering in Relationship
Drs Hal & Sidra Stone
In the last ten years, we’ve begun to think of our kind of relationship as a partnering relationship. A partnering model of relationship is a non-hierarchical way of being with someone. This way of thinking about relationship can be applied to all relationships but its primary focus has particular application to ongoing primary relationships. In addition to being non-hierarchical it is also seen by us as being a serious Joint Venture in both a personal and business sense.
As part of this Joint Venture, both people must be surrendered to some level of a psycho-spiritual process in their own personal lives and also surrendered to such a process in their relational lives together. It is important here to understand that the surrender is not to the other person but to the relationship itself.
The ability and willingness to surrender to the process of relationship has a number of major consequences. For one thing, your partner/friend becomes your teacher just as you become their teacher. Another way of thinking about the Partnering Model is simply to think of it in the sense of Relationship as Teacher.
There is another consequence to this process. We gradually learn to embrace the disowned selves that we carry for each other. This happens over a very long period of time. Ultimately we come to the discovery that in each of us lives an introject of our partner. Sidra is learning about the energy configurations in her that correspond to Hal. Hal is learning about the energy configurations that correspond to Sidra. This is a very exciting process and one that allows a continuing conscious separation of the two people and a yet deeper clarity regarding the whole issue of bonding patterns.
There is an extensive ongoing learning process where both people must learn the basics of the psychology of selves, the Aware Ego process, the consciousness model, the work with bonding patterns, the understanding of energetic realities, and the relationship to the physical body. There evolves an ever deepening relationship to the spiritual dimension and, hopefully, there is some connection to the dream process that is shared in the relationship. We have seen that, over time, the dreams can become an increasingly powerful inner teacher both in our lives and in our relationships.
The concept of a Joint Venture also has major consequences. Every aspect of relationship involves a joint decision making process. There is nothing wrong with one person being responsible for taking care of finances. It is simply that the other person cannot abdicate responsibility for finances. The other person must not become an unconscious daughter or son just because someone else is taking the major responsibility for a particular area. In a partnership, both partners are liable – even if one has a special expertise or interest in one aspect of the business of living.
In this light, an ongoing partnering relationship can be seen in part as a serious business venture between two people, one that requires a good deal of time and energy. We strongly recommend business meetings where the business issues of life can be dealt with. That may sound unromantic, but if there aren’t regular business meetings, then the business of life – the requirements of everyday living – have a tendency to invade all available space and to be handled unconsciously.
We live our lives most of the time out of our primary selves. This changes as we do our psycho-spiritual work. We begin to have a choice about who is going to live our life – or, as we like to say, who is going to drive our psychological car. As partners we must decide over and over again who is going to do what and when. Who is going to call the friends about the party? Who is going to take the clothes to the cleaner?
Default, unconsciously decides whatever partners do not decide consciously together. This is analogous to the default position on a computer. The computers we use came with default settings for each application; there are hundreds of default positions. They work, but they’re generic. If you want to use the computer in a more personal, creative and artistic way, then you must learn how to change these settings so that you have real choice as to how it will operate.
If you wish to have a more creative, imaginative and sensual connection to each other, you need to be constantly handling the business and personal decisions – determining what belongs to each of you at a certain time and then working out who does what. In this way, you do not live your relationship via default positions, which simply means through your primary selves. Instead, you are a team – constantly working together to support the Aware Ego process in each of you. The gradual integration of whatever it is that the partner carries for us greatly enhances our ability to make conscious decisions and choices.
The psychological work is essential to discover who is running our lives and who is living our relationships. The spiritual work is essential because without a sense of spiritual reality/ God/ Higher Intelligence our lives cannot expand beyond purely personal considerations. The work with energetic reality is essential because for a truly satisfying relationship, the primary energetic connection must be between the two people involved.
All of this is an ongoing process that can last forever. One of the greatest surprises and delights of our aging process is the amount of change that remains for us in a true partnering relationship. The continuing support of our dreams is truly awesome, and the profound power of the Intelligence of the Psyche becomes more and more of an everyday affair accompanying our ongoing and ever-present dance with the world of bonding patterns.