• Bill Petrie

What is Conscious Relationship?

Couples see me for many reasons.

There may be issues around intimacy. There may be conflict around finances, parenting, socialising, or values. There may be disappointment.

They may have grown apart and feeling that they are no longer ‘in

love.’ There may have been a betrayal of trust.

Often, they are desperate.

But, very often, much can be done!

Now, although each couple is unique, there are also often

commonalities. In over thirty years of working with couples, I

have noticed some kinds of problems that tend to come up time

and time again and I’ll be exploring some of those here - together

with insights and solutions that may help you on your way.

The approach I’ll be taking is what I call ‘Conscious Relationship’ -

a relatively modern development.

Traditionally, the focus of relationships has been on the roles

that each person has to play and these roles have been very

carefully prescribed. And, that suited most people because each

person knew exactly what was expected of him or her and that

created a solid sense of security.

In the 1950’s in the USA, for example, there was a clear

expectation that the husband provide financially for the family

and that the wife looked after the kids and the home. That may

have worked then but most couples today have a much more

complex and varied set of expectations!

And - whether it be via our parenting or from society at large -

there are many other social influences too.

We tend to dress according to social trends, to wear our hair according to fashion, to marry in way that is supported by our society and to be promiscuous to the degree that is tolerated by our culture.

Social influence is enormously powerful!

And, so is our biology!

In fact, if we look at things through the lens of evolutionary

psychology, many of of our expectations are still largely

determined by our biology. Like all other apes, we seek mates. We

strive for security. We desire sex. We raise and protect our

families. And, we raise our children by cooperating with others in

communities and we protect those communities from ‘others.’

We are naturally driven to these things and very often we don’t

realise that it’s largely our biology at play.

So, much of our lives - including our relationships - are very

significantly determined by our biology and by culture.

Now, I’m sure that this is not news to you! But the thing that is

really interesting in all of this is that both the biological drives

and the social conditioning - are very largely unconsciously driven.

In most cases, couples allow their biology and their culture to

determine much of their lives without even knowing that this is


And, that is fine for many but some people long for something


They want to become more conscious.

They want to know who they are and they want to know their partners deeply. They want to be true to their hearts. And, they want to become most fully who they really are.

For such couples, Conscious Relationship is the way to go.

Now, Conscious Relationship is not everyone’s cup of tea. I respect

that and I work happily with many couples for whom this is not a

priority at all.

But, here I’m talking about Conscious Relationship and some of

the common problems that are dealt with along the way. And, I

hope that will see just how helpful this insightful approach can


So, what are common problems that I see in my practice?

Well, we could start with two of the more obvious - sex and

money. And, we will mention these. But, I want to start with ‘falling out of love‘ because so many couple come to couples work feeling bereft because they just don’t feel the same about each other any more. What they don’t realise is that this happens to us all!

Most of us in the modern world get married when we are ‘in love.’

And, of course, it’s wonderful. We feel complete, happy, joyful, and

alive. We would give everything to our love and we discover so

much commonality and have so much fun.

Who wouldn’t want that?

But, there is a huge downside because being in love is a deeply

unconscious state.

In fact, it is so unconscious that the great Psychologist - Carl Jung - called it a “socially-condoned psychosis.”

All of us who have been in love know that we eventually fall out of

the enchantment and find ourselves wondering what went wrong.

Things were wonderful but now the passion of the first bloom has

wilted and we are left feeling disappointed and confused.

Despite all the ‘happy-ever-after’ messages that we have received

from popular music, from Hollywood films and from thousands of

romantic novels, we will eventually fall out of love.

It’s just what happens!

And, it’s painful, worrying even deeply disillusioning. But there is

a silver lining!

The spiritual teacher, Adyashanti, once asked the participants in a

group that he was running what they thought love really is. Most

members of the group had strong ideas. But, one man - an elderly

Japanese gentleman - remained silent. In the end, he couldn't keep

quiet and he began to talk about how, when he had gotten

married in Japan, his hope was that - by the time he died - he

would have learned something of what love really is.