The Conscious Heart

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I found this work very inspiring and useful both as a professional and as someone in a committed relationship and agree with the majority of the suggestions this couple present.

To me, relationships should help inspire growth in both people, so they can become the best and truest versions of themselves. I recognize as a therapist and someone interested in philosophy that there are things about myself that I cannot know, because I am not outside of myself, experiencing myself. There is nothing more intimate than learning about yourself by way of your partner. That’s really something I have always craved, a connection on that level.

I really enjoy the emphasis on creativity in this book- that both partners should encourage the other in their creative endeavors. I love that. I need that as well as taking full responsibility for one’s own actions and feelings.

Releasing control: that seems like a simple concept, but for whatever reason, humans seem to find comfort in the semblance of control and try to control other people. It simply can’t be done. You cannot control another’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings, or actions … but you can commit to being open and honest about your own. A perfect example is how I don’t expect my partner to ONLY find myself attractive. I can’t control whether he finds someone else sexually attractive, and there are many attractive people in this world. I cannot even control if he chooses to act on that thought. However, people may not be able to control their feelings (to some extent) but they can choose whether or not to act on sexual attraction outside of the relationship. The beauty of a committed partnership is that you can have those feelings about other people, which is normal, finding someone else attractive, but you choose your relationship over the curiousity or urge to find out what it may feel like to be with that other person. You invest your time and energy (emotional and otherwise) to your partner first and foremost. You don’t care to try out other relationships because that’s no longer exciting to you.

Here is where my opinion differs from those of the authors. I don’t believe you need to tell your partner every single little thing you think. The authors seem to  advocate for being honest about EVERYTHING, and bringing up EVERYTHING. I do value honesty, but what would be the point in telling my partner that I find someone else attractive? I am not going to act on it, and it would likely only hurt him. So what good would that do? Nothing. I don’t think I would want to know the details about why he would find some other woman attractive, I know he values and loves me, so if he finds someone else attractive, that’s ok, I just expect him to not act on it because he wants our relationship.

One particular section of this work had me reeling. It was when the authors, Gay and Kathlyn, shared something that happened over the course of their relationship. Gay confided to Kathlyn that he had feelings for a younger woman. Ok, fair enough, but then he actually had the audacity to go on ask if he could have a sexual relationship with this woman! What the hell!? I don’t believe you can have 2 fulfilling relationships at the same time. You can’t give all of yourself and your energy to two people. That is so disrespectful. I think I would have left Gay, had I been in Kathlyn, even just for him asking. After some subsequent exploration, I guess, Gay found out he was just having a crisis within himself and didn’t actually want a relationship with this other woman, that those feelings represented something that needed to change for him, but it didn’t have anything to do with relationships. I found that interesting, and I do think that certain crises can inspire growth and tell us something about ourselves, like needing to spend more time on creative endeavors we find enjoyable, but I was so floored while reading this. Especially this one scene when, before it was decided that Gay wouldn’t act on his feelings, Gay, Kathlyn, and the other woman all went to see a show and Gay and was whispering and flirting with the other woman. Kathlyn didn’t have to stand for that! She could have left! I would have. Why would I subject myself to that kind of torment when it’s obvious in the moment that my partner prefers someone else’s company over mine? Ridiculous! It’s true, you can’t control what Gay feels or thinks, but you can control if you want to be a part of that or not. If someone doesn’t value my relationship with them enough to not invite other people in, I’m gone. I could find someone else who does value it.

I did resonate with the piece about that Kathlyn should be able to engage in her creative persuits regardless of if Gay is in the picture, I get that, but damn. That section of the book was brutal for me and I found myself questioning whether having to subject Kathlyn to all that was really necessary for Gay’s “revelation” that he didn’t need a sexual relationship with this person to “fix” what needed to be fixed.

Overall, I found the work inspiring and plan to share it with my partner.

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