I hear the term conscious relationships often but I also get asked what are the components that make a conscious relationship - what does it mean and how do couples create conscious relationships?
From an Imago Relationship Therapy perspective Conscious Love is the final of three phases of a relationship, and the sooner a couple can get there the better. The three phases of a relationship are romantic love, the power struggle and conscious love, I will explain the former two in another blog but for now lets focus on the deliciousness of conscious love.
Conscious love is a wonderful bi-product of conscious communication and a conscious relationship. To create a conscious relationship that sees the result of conscious love, couples must ensure they are safe with one another on an emotional level. When safety is established in any scenario each individual within the couple feel safe to share without judgement, triggers, coping strategies or fearing conflict. When each partner feels safe enough to express what is going on for them it is likely because the other partner is creating openness without judgement or expectation for the other to share. When safety is created its because both partners have their brain fully online without the constant scanning for safe harbour that our reptilian brain often seeks out to protect us from danger.
It is possible fo partners to disagree and not fully understand each other whilst still hearing what is being said and creating the space for sharing that is safe for each other. This is a conscious relationship. Conscious love welcomes differences and separateness whilst still creating the oneness of a relationship. A conscious relationship encourages growth, fluidity, conversational connection, empathy, expression and awareness of self and other. Two people within a relationship are able to take responsibility for their own actions and see how they contribute to the relational journey for two. Each partner is also then able to see how they contribute to triggers and relational drama that takes place for each others journey towards conscious love. What deep, safe and open communication and connection is present each person within the relationship is able to reach their full potential and heal and wounds from other interpersonal relating all the way back to childhood.
In Imago stretching into the world of the other to understand each other better helps to deepen levels of empathy which leads to understanding and validation for each partner in the relationship. In this situation it then means either partner should feel safe enough to share anything that’s going on for them.
On a personal level, I feel that this is the foundation in which friendship is formed and when couples experience relational distress, often it’s not just because they are triggered and in their coping mechanisms but I believe necessary for them to remember the foundations from which a friendship is formed. I feel all great relationships and marriages are formed from the solid foundations of friendship and conscious love grows from that friendship when couples make it through the power struggle phase and into deep fulfilling relating.
The quickest way, in my opinion, for couples to bring their relationship back to friendship foundations in tricky times is to remember why they like each other. Putting romantic love to one side for a moment, just focusing on the kind of like you have with a friend or an acquaintance. I feel this helps take the emotional weight and expectation of love away and take the relating back to basics from which everything else grew. In Imago, this is called appreciations and I will put together a whole blog piece about how and why appreciations can help couples in conflict to reconnect in their relationship.
Couples who have conscious love are consciously communicating. They create friendship, appreciations, safe harbours for each other to share and they encourage differences whereby they stretch into each others worlds and experiences of the good, bad and ugly within their relationships. Conscious communication isn’t easy but the reward for couples who are willing to do the work is conscious love which is deeply fulfilling. Thus, it’s so worth it.
Sarah Louise x