A Successful Relationship
Making It Work Against All Odds
By Arianne Koven, N.D., C.N.H.P
It has become impossible to count the number of times I have heard one of my female clients bemoan the fact that their relationships were not working or they were not able to attract the Prince Charming of their dreams. Too many people are looking outwards, wanting… expecting… hoping… to find that perfect someone to complete their lives.
This is a certain recipe for disaster! I am reminded of a wonderful little piece by Elizabeth Claire Prophet in which she posed a simple question: Accepting that every woman dreams of her knight in shining armor mounted on a spirited white stallion, galloping into her life and sweeping her off into the sunset. Let us assume that there is such a valiant knight galloping right toward you from out of the distance.
What do you have to offer that will make him stop?
The bottom line is that one can not bring to a relationship more than she (or he) can bring to her/himself. We are each a package deal including all our unwanted baggage. We are the product of our thoughts, our ideas and beliefs, our heredity and environment, our parenting and early home-life, our schooling and work experiences, our previous relationships, our fears and joys, our courage and timidity…. The list can go on forever.
We are each a wonderfully complex phenomenon of diverse voices or sub-personalities that seem to run our lives and take over our right to make independent choices. We have all heard the voice of the Pusher. He (it most often assumes a masculine identity) is the one who always wants you to accomplish more. Eat healthier food. Exercise at least five times a week. He is the one who makes you buy books you will never read.
We also deal daily with the inner voice of our Critic. This intrusive dude sits on our shoulder like a three hundred pound canary singing out our misery. You are getting fatter by the hour. Those clothes look awful on you. Stop complaining about your relationship C you are no bargain either!
But our most pervasive voice — the one that truly takes over and defines our personality — is our Primary. This dominant sub-personality is usually formed within the first few years of our lives and has been at the helm every since. It is the persona we used to make sure we got what we wanted from our parents.
A typical example is the Pleaser. This computation discovered that if you gurgle and smile a lot you get what you want. In adult life, you become the caregiver. You put everyone’s needs before your own. It is very important that others like you and you go out of your way to see to it that they do. Another common sub-personality is the Crier. Based on the theory that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, this infant has learned that whenever he or she cries, mommy comes running. What power! In later years these people develop into chronic complainers. They are perpetual victims; why does everything always happen to me? They get all the attention they can by making others feel sorry for them.
Other voices abound… thousands of them. There is Aphrodite — the sexy, vamp hidden in all of us; The Inner Child — who can display a multitude of sub personalities ranging from innocent and playful to hurt, sad or even terrified to the point of being unwilling to emerge for fear of being trampled by an unaware partner. We all have the Spiritual voice that feels the presence of God and seeks to understand the Great Mystery; the Rule Maker who constantly defines our boundaries and tells us what we can or cannot do. We are governed by the presence of the Judge who rates others and lets us know when to approve or disapprove; our Rebel constantly fights Mr. Conservative; Our Beach Bum C the one who just loves to laze around all day — constantly does battle with the Pusher. It is no wonder so many of us end up a tangled mess.
Imagine being the President of a large company sitting around a board room table surrounded by a team of twenty top advisors ö each of them yelling… tugging at your sleeve… demanding your attention… insisting you do it their way. There are only two options:
Option 1. Hold your hands over your ears and pretend not to listen. This allows your primary personalities to dominate and continue to run your life — just as they have since infancy.
Option 2. Become a true President and take charge. Use your gavel. Demand attention and order as you begin to sort things out. This process of separating from and listening to the inner voices called Voice Dialogue was developed in the early eighties by Hal and Sidra Stone, two Jungian psychologists — both in their second marriage — who woke up to the fact that they were falling into all the same patterns that caused their previous relationships to disintegrate.
The counseling technique that evolved over the years has been a godsend, not only for my many clients, but also for my own relationship. It has taught me that a successful partnership should never be taken for granted. Both participants have to value it enough to make the effort to make it work. This often isn’t easy — especially when one does not see the need or is unwilling to support the efforts of the other.
What is important is that each of us does the work on her/himself. While there are many excellent techniques for achieving this goal, I have found none to be as swift, penetrating or effective as Voice Dialogue. Often three to five sessions can yield extremely insightful results.
When couples work together, they share intimacies in a productive, safe environment under the guidance of a qualified counselor. Each begins to learn more about the inner needs of the other. They learn compassion, trust and vulnerability. More importantly, they learn to respect the needs and emotional challenges of the other. The relationship is no longer centered on MY needs to the exclusion of YOUR needs and OUR needs.
It does not matter if one partner refuses to participate. What is important is that each of us takes responsibility for our own lives. Once you begin to untangle the web of voices and reach the still point of Aware Ego, you emerge into the true adult stage of your life.
Probably for the first time, you now have true choices. You have met and listened to the wisdom of many of your inner voices. In so doing, you have shifted the place from which you view forever. You have achieved a new level of understanding of yourself.
From this new vantage point you can freely review your life, your aspirations, your relationships. YOU are now your own best friend. Your need for others to complete YOU has diminished. YOU decide what is best for you.
With your inner baggage sorted out, YOU begin to emit a powerful, palpable glow strong enough to attract the attention of any knight galloping your way.
Relationships are not easy. Successful ones begin with partners committing first to themselves and then taking that newfound, inner insight, as a gift, to the other. A successful relationship is based on mutual trust and respect. It asks that each partner serve and be served by the other equally. It asks that both partners communicate and share in safety, support each other fully and feel free to expose their vulnerability.
The odds against a truly successful relationship are high, but not insurmountable. You will need to overcome many of the patterns that have defined your life path since early childhood. But, if you are willing to take the first step you already are fifty percent of the way home. If you have the commitment to continuing the process, your success is all but assured. Your prize is YOURSELF! With that in hand, anything is possible — even the perfect relationship.
© 2012. All Rights Reserved. Arianne Koven is a Traditional Naturopath, Certified Natural Health Practitioner and Voice Dialogue Facilitator practicing in the Vilcabamba Valley, Ecuador. She has been involved in the holistic field for the past thirty years and has been trained in a broad spectrum of healing modalities. This article may be freely reprinted, copied, or distributed in either print or electronic form provided this notice is included in full. For more information, see: www.arikoven.com.
Any information provided in this article is not intended to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any specific medical condition and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counseling of your own health care practitioner. Before you treat any illness or make changes in your current medication, seek the advice of a qualified health care practitioner who is familiar with your medical condition.