Blog 15. How And Why We Choose Our Partners: You Can Easily Sabotage A Relationship By Not Fully Understanding The Unconscious Contract Which Every Couple Sets Up.
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THE UNCONSCIOUS CONTRACT
The Unconscious Contract is a therapeutic concept that was developed through many hours and years of couple observation. I found the Unconscious Contract concept particularly interesting. If you grasp the idea behind this concept you will have managed to understand what most people, even some therapists, do not know.
It’s also an area that requires a therapist to have proper relationship training especially when helping couples uncover complex issues particular to them.
Once I have completed all three sections of my relationship blogs, you will understand the full range of relationship issues more fully. This will mean that you won’t have to be in therapy for long, if at all.
To do this it is crucial that you understand what takes place on deeper levels in relationships and how each of us is expected to behave depending on the partners and types of relationships we choose.
From my previous blog you will have gathered that we often choose our partners as a direct result of our shared conscious or unconscious experiences.
When two people are attracted to one another, a connection develops via feelings of understanding, of safety and happiness. As a result the couple may decide to take their relationship further. Once a couple decides to either move in together or/and get married, this felt connection or intimacy deepens to the next level of understanding which occurs either consciously or unconsciously.
Also, when people choose a partner usually their buried or unconscious hope is that somehow the relationship will heal their past. As their intimacy level deepens so too does the hope of healing and happiness. But marriage isn’t therapy. Yet couples often come together hoping, often unconsciously, that somehow their partner will give them what their parents never gave them.
We do however learn certain behavioural rules from our parents and our families. Each of us has our own relationship blueprint gathered from our parents. When we meet someone often we take that behaviour into our relationships and hopefully we adapt that behaviour to suit the relationship.
As a relationship deepens an unspoken kind of contract begins to develop. It involves rules of behaviour along with a fantasy that the relationship will somehow heal the past. This is called The Unconscious Contract. It’s like an unconscious understanding between two people as to what kind of behaviour will take place during the relationship.
If the couple chooses to get married, what each individual has experienced with regards their own family will also determine the ‘type of contract that gets agreed upon’.
The connection or attraction between two people is, never simple. It can involve more than just sharing similar childhood experiences. And there could be quite a few contracts too – not just one.
The unconscious is very powerful and what we are attracted to on the surface is perhaps very different to what we begin to find or experience as the relationship deepens or as time goes on.
The ‘contract’ between 2 people can be very subtle and totally hidden to the conscious mind. It can also cause huge tensions within a relationship, as certain roles are taken on, played out or assumed.
The roles that each party is expected to play is not always positive. There can be an unconscious collusive role agreed upon by the couple that involves playing out various roles like – the bully, the victim, the rescuer, the addict, the abuser or the violent aggressor and so forth. In some cases, the rule that the bully needs a victim or that the victim needs a bully can apply to what kind of ‘conscious or unconscious contract’ two people set up.
Without even being aware, and through the dynamics of the relationship, certain couple roles become acquired and absorbed. Through a process of ‘osmosis’ as the couple spend more and more time together, the unconscious contract can deepen. What is expected of one another or what roles are to be played out becomes clearer as the relationship develops.
This contract can also set up rules as to how each individual is required to behave during a crisis, in grief, during the birth of children, the different roles played out within the home, who the bread winner is, dealing with retirement, money, moving home, looking after parents, and so on.
Unconscious expectations and requirements can be projected onto each partner. And each partner may begin to take on these expected roles and behave in certain ways to ‘emotionally please or satisfy’ their partners. This ‘change’ in behaviour can be subtle or extremely obvious.
This is when relationships can become complicated. Each relationship has it’s own unconscious emotional desires, needs, wants, motives and agendas.
Each member of the couple might find themselves playing out certain roles that they hadn’t wished or hoped for. And this is when tension starts, especially if a loss of identity and lack of self-worth begins to creep into the relationship.
Within the Unconscious Contract, there is for example, often an attraction to the parents or family of a partner. A partner may be attracted to what the other person’s family offers. They might hope to get the attention or love of their partner’s family – love and attention which they may never have received from the own family and so on.
Except that if a person isn’t really used to what the other family has to offer, their desires or hopes can get horribly shattered. Because mostly, we attract what we know and what we are used to.
For example, the only child might not be able to deal with a large family, and the intimacy of a smaller family might be daunting for their partner. This can lead to a lot of friction – even utter dislike of a partner, their family, their views, their beliefs and their behaviour. Yet, on some level, that particular partner was chosen, chosen for many reasons – probably to heal the past and yet this is not always possible.
Usually what happens, is that a partner mirrors all that is lacking in the other. And these feelings and realisations of what we didn’t have can leave us with great anger, sadness and loss. This is often the cause of why arguments, misunderstandings and disappoints start. Because when we feel sad, disappointed and angry – and it’s easier to blame our partners than to take responsibility for our feelings. Especially if our unconscious hope is that a partner will in some way heal the past.
We unwittingly sabotage our relationships in ways that are often entirely unconscious, due to our conscious or unconscious hopes and expectations.
However, if a couple can begin to understand and accept what has been internalised from their past and what their Unconscious Contract is, then the reasons as to why they relate as they do and why they chose one another in the first instance, will become clear.
If each individual of the couple can begin to take responsibility for their behaviour and their part of the contract, this is when the healing begins.
Also by understanding the concept of Internal Parents and the Marital Fit (see previous blogs) the couple will begin to understand their relationship better.
Through better understanding of the self as well as one another, the couple can then begin to relate differently and this is when a new healthier intimacy can be found.
By the way, an ‘unconscious contract’ can be drawn up not only with personal partners but also friends, colleagues and business partners too.
So this takes us back to square one. It is so important that you become self-aware. And by also absorbing my Relationship Knowledge System you will make such better choices to suit your life goals. And guess what? You will be happier too!
Note: © 2014 Information Copyright Deidré Wallace
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Very wise article communication breakdown between partners so they are able to discus their needs is responsible for many “failed” relationships. I find this very insightful thank you D
A pleasure John.