Add as bookmark

Understanding Relationship

by David Peet(more info)

listed in personal growth, originally published in issue 115 - September 2005

This article is about understanding relationships. It is for singles wanting to be doubles, people in relationship who may feel stuck, distant or dead, and for those in conflict, break up or divorce.

There is a lot of advice out there on relationships. I am not sure how much has been tested and I do wonder if some agony aunts and uncles may not be in agony themselves. So my credentials are important, and they are not just letters after my name, but also come from 'the university of married life'.

There is a Dolly Parton song called An Eagle When She Flies which begins with 'She's been there, God knows, she's been there. She has seen and done it all'. It says a lot in a few words and Dolly's on the button for me personally. Today I count my ex-wife, the mother of my three children, as amongst my most kind and loyal friends. She gets on very well with my second wife and we all, my ex's partner included, parented the children. The children are now aged 17 to 21, and are blossoming, open, courageous and fun. It is true, it does take a whole village to raise a child. Remarkable about this happy story is that my second wife was 'the other woman', because I had an affair with her 18 years into my first marriage. I was so shocked that I could get myself and my family into this mess that I gave up my media career and set myself the challenge of finding out why it happened. I trained with the relationship coaching organization, The Psychology of Vision, and there found answers to many questions. I now know what happened to me, why it happens to others, what to do about it and how to avoid it.

This is not a counsel of self-control and discipline; it is a recipe for passion, irresistibility and saying 'yes' to love and life. Today I have been ten years as a relationship coach, and a trainer. I have been able to help many people get through all the problems I listed at the beginning of this article by trusting ideas and principles which have often been totally opposite to the way I had learned to think.

For example, did you know that every unresolved emotional issue you have within yourself, will emerge in your key relationship? Did you know that in any relationship you have 100% power to change any problem yourself? It is hard to believe. And for parents, the quality of your main love relationship, whether with the other parent, step-parent or new partner, will be the single most important factor in the healthy growth and safety of your children? And just for luck, any issue you do not choose to deal with will be carried by your children. So there are lots of good reasons for getting involved in how you really feel inside.

To cut to the heart of the matter, the most important quality for any relationship success is femininity. Some men run a mile at the thought of this and, of course, here in the UK, we are so afraid of this side of ourselves that, typically, we ridicule it to make an excuse to withdraw from our feelings.

But to sober up the cynics, when people lie dying in battle, they most often call for their mothers, the most powerful force in the universe, love. And most of us associate the deepest most transformative love, the safest place on earth, with the feminine. When things get tough we look to the masculine to fix things, but when that fails – as it often does – only the feminine can save us from our pain.

The feminine in us is open-hearted, graceful, compassionate, wise, tender, gentle and sensitive. It is infinitely strong and powerful precisely because it is accepting, non-judgmental and patient. Such is unconditional love, it takes no prisoners. These qualities generate attractiveness, irresistibility, the ability to transform any situation, true leadership and deep levels of loyalty. And of course, the feminine is creative, passionate, inspiring and inspired. It gives birth to the most beautiful things on earth, our children. This ability to birth beauty by being willing to give of themselves, is true in physical terms and also, crucially, it is true in psychological terms. And if a relationship is a journey of self-growth, then the ability to give birth in psychological terms is going to be vital for happiness. Without this you get stuck in conflict, deadness and triangle relationships.

Stages of Relationsips

Honeymoon or Romance Stage
Power Struggle Stage

Dead Zone Stage
Roles, Rules and Duties
Family dynamics and patterns
Fear of the Next Step
Partnership Stage

Beyond Mars and Venus

Any relationship depends for its success, happiness and fulfilment on the level of emotional health present in the relationship. Emotional health comes from our ability to be open, honest and responsive to how we feel, and knowing ways to move through those feelings with maturity. This is the literal meaning of the word 'courage', meaning 'heart'. Here we are talking about a whole new 'art of living' which is very different from the mainstream, dissociated milieu, in which we seek to be happy but so often fail.

And, whereas the Mars/Venus model has men and women fixed into different types, we can now move beyond this because we know for sure that the 'feminine' is as much present in men as women. Men are from Venus too. And men who have found the 'Venus within', are indeed irresistible and lose nothing of their masculinity.

So the leader in a successful relationship is not a gender issue nor 'gender' based. We all have all the greatest qualities and gifts we need within us, without exception.

In the old way of thinking, a person's value was measured by such things as Intelligence Quotient or IQ. This is a dry, mechanistic, 'smart' test, no doubt invented by well-intentioned men, or women who have slipped into a masculine type role, along with padded shoulders. If you get a high number for your IQ you think you are very smart, if you get a low number you think you are dim. It may measure something but happiness is not in the equation. Our value has been hooked up to a test more appropriate to a gearbox than a human being.

These days things have moved on. Alas, we are still being measured, but now, at least, it has moved towards the feminine. This is the EQ test, the emotional quotient. As the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists say.

"According to research, high IQ will only carry you so far in life; it accounts for about 30% of success. It is EQ that will make you both happier and more successful because more people will connect with you! Those who only consider the bottom line, or remain consumed by their own self-importance, have fewer friends and, in business, fewer customers."

And their relationships may not be too pretty either. Not many of you would put 'genius' or 'high IQ' on your wish list for an ideal partner, but most of you will put loving, caring, romantic or sensitive. In other words relationships are all about EQ, emotions.

High EQ is just another way of saying you can have successful relationships. Some people try to wriggle out of feelings by defining EQ as 'understanding and controlling your emotions'.

If you are going to control your emotions then there is little point in understanding them. The vital question is why the emotions are there at all. Emotional reactions are vital signs, symptoms, of what is going on in your heart. It matters, very much, how you feel and react. True, you do not dump your feelings on others, but you do not seek to control them. What is the symbol of true love if it is not a whole heart? Your heart is always ready to heal, but a broken heart is stuck in pain if you will not face the feelings that naturally want to emerge. That is the healing process.

Controlling emotions seems attractive because, like bad medicine, you eliminate the symptoms without dealing with the underlying cause. So if you repress your reactions, you become dead and dispassionate and affairs are more likely. It may be fun to swing through the trees with a Die Hard Bruce Willis, but honestly, would you want to live with him? Dirty Harry may be glamorous to watch but imagine spending more than a day or two with him. You would go mad. These are characters that control their emotions, are shut down and, frankly, badly damaged.

A relationship can be a stairway to heaven or a gateway to hell. Why do I say this?

In the scheme of things there is a drive to wholeness. Each of us, without exception, was born with amazing gifts. As we grew up in our families, typically, we had experiences that led us to make bad choices about ourselves and so we shut down. Bit by bit, year by year, we became less our true, exciting, joyous golden selves, and more a product of a dysfunctional family doing its best to get by. We became false. As a result, by the time we have grown up, and are ready for a relationship, we carry around a load of unmet needs, heartbreak, guilt and dependent feelings that are looking for a home. And the chances are we have no idea.

Falling in love, and the resultant short period of feeling as if you are walking on air, is not so much true love as the welcome relief that you have found someone who is finally going to meet your needs. The bigger the honeymoon, the more it reflects your unmet needs as a child. So what does this mean for your relationship? It means that as you journey into intimacy with one person you are going to re-trace your emotional steps. If you stay the course, you re-open, re-experience your painful moments when you shut down or threw away a gift. What you see in your partner is a mirror of what is going on in you.

When the honeymoon ends it does not mean the relationship is broken, it means it is doing its sacred work of showing you where you have given up on yourself in the past. Because the relationship has brought up the pain, you associate your partner with it and blame them. But, in truth, the pain is from your own past. Any judgement you had on mum or dad or yourself will come up, and as you step through with new choices, you grow a little and move forward to another happy time. Until the next layer comes up.

Because your partner is a mirror, when you decide to change your attitude and beliefs the whole situation changes. You have all the power to resolve the problems you face because, in essence, you are always dealing with your own projections.

With each step you retrace, undoing bad decisions, you free up your natural giftedness, get closer to your partner, refresh your relationships and save your children the heart-breaking burden of having to carry your stuff. You become whole.

There are many ways to solve any relationship problem and there is no relationship problem that cannot be healed. Principles of forgiveness, commitment, integration, acceptance, letting go, trust, asking for help, receiving, truth, communication and the power of choice are all powerful means to heal any problem. But without your heart, you are like the tin man. So it is time to get into a relationship with your feelings, trust them, learn from them, then let them go. Breaking up and divorce can be absolutely the right choice, but if you have not learned the lessons of the relationship, the unfinished business will still be needed to be healed.


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About David Peet

Bernadette Doyle and David Peet have created Healthy Business for complementary practitioners and therapists who want to create a thriving and prosperous practice. For a free information pack on Healthy Business Tel: 0800 652 7784. They can be reached on

top of the page