In an interview with Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix that I often recommend to people, Helen and Harville define a conscious relationship as one in which each partner is aware that the wounds and relationship dynamics from childhood will have a big influence on their relationship. In other words, they are conscious that what is stored in their unconscious minds matters. A lot. Harville and Helen go on to explain that we are unconsciously attracted to a partner who will bring up the same or similar issues from our childhood. And, whereas with our conscious minds we see all the things that we think make us compatible, our unconscious minds bring us together based on our incompatibility—our partner will behave in ways that don’t meet needs that weren’t met in childhood.
The points that Helen and Harville make in the interview are very congruent with the theories in my book. My book’s title, Meet Me In Hard-to-Love Places, is a line from my song Dragons and Demons. This song is about a lover who accepts what it means to have a conscious relationship, realizes that it won’t always be easy, and feels both afraid and excited to give it try.
I believe it is a good sign if you feel some fear about entering a conscious relationship. It means you have some awareness of what is involved. When you’re not aware of the role that the unconscious plays, the challenges that arise once the honeymoon phase is over can be surprising, confusing, and disheartening.
Though it can be discouraging to realize that our wounds and childhood relationship dynamics will surface in our adult relationships (the positive dynamics surface too!), with enough support and tools, lovers can help each other heal, fulfill more of their potential, and fall more deeply in love.