Loving relationships are vitally important and, unfortunately, rare. The truth is, couples today have an enormous task to undertake in order to maintain loving relationships. We are living through a time of unprecedented change. Up until now, over an indefinitely long time, each gender had clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Relationships were based on this division of labour for the purpose of survival. This division of labour was fundamental to life throughout history, most recently with men responsible for earning money and protecting their family, and women responsible for the home and children.
Only recently have these roles begun to break down. Suddenly, we entered a modern world where the old roles and values did not seem to fit. Women, at home with time to think about these things, realised they felt trapped in their roles. They fought for freedom and feminism was born. Changes were made that changed the face of society. The clear division of labour between men and women dwindled. The old roles have not completely disappeared yet and it is unclear now as to who is responsible for what. There are still unconscious habits and expectations around gender roles. We are living through a major transition while the old ways are falling away. We have the opportunity to consciously plant the seeds of the future.
During this period of change, the goals of relationship have changed. Today, instead of survival, we want fulfilment. Instead of a role mate, we want a soul mate.1 We live in a modern world where instant gratification is desired and expected. We do not have tradition or obligation to hold our relationships together. We are attempting to create new types of relationships, with new levels of satisfaction … and, on top of that, we, being modern people, expect it to happen now, instantly, easily. We need to be aware of the pitfalls of our situation. Never have we had so much freedom. Yet without knowing what to do with freedom, it is easy to make mistakes. And, with so much freedom, it is difficult to make relationships work. We are at the point where we want our relationships to be fulfilling and nurturing, a deep source of love in our life. How do we get there?
Let’s look more closely at the situation. Times have changed. Feminism achieved many things. Unfortunately some important mistakes were made along the way. The idea of feminism was the empowerment of women. In some ways this was achieved, but the waters became very murky when the boat began to sail through the waters of victimhood and blame and when power was misunderstood. Men were blamed and resentment was bred. The truth, which can be difficult for us to see, is both men and women were tied to their roles in the days of role mates; neither gender had freedom in their roles. They both did the best they could with what was expected of them. Now men and women need to find ways of negotiating relationships and responsibilities, without getting caught in blame and victim positions. A transformational thing to learn at this point is how to become a powerful ally to the opposite gender. This requires a willingness to heal anything in the way of having a deep commitment to the empowerment and re-emergence of the other gender. This means calling a ceasefire and making a truce, surrendering our weapons of self-righteousness, destructive criticism and passive aggression. As couples, we need to learn how to create safety and expose our vulnerability and become transparent. We also learn to surrender to the relationship as a healing force in our lives.
It is easy to become adversaries in our relationships. The Wounded Masculine and Wounded Feminine fight with each other, perceiving fault and feeling distrust. We need to negotiate our new roles together, as a team. Adversaries compete to get the best position for themselves at the expense of the other. Allies seek to find each other’s greatest gifts and create structures that bring out the best potential in each person. When we attempt to change our partner out of resentment, blame or self-righteousness, we are likely to cultivate their (and our own) Wounded Masculine or Feminine. It is through love, compassion and appreciation that we can cultivate the Healed Masculine and Feminine in our relationships. We will need to look at the resentment, blame and all the other feelings that are blocking our way. We will have to become vulnerable in the areas where we have hardened and open ourselves to the healing power of love. Perhaps when men and women can learn to become “Allies In Love”, nations can learn to become “Allies in Peace”.
Footnote (1) The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell, Finch Publications
Published in byronchild/Kindred, issue 2, June 02