In their impressive book Conscious Loving, Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks list the core commitments for transforming co-dependent relationships.
What’s a co-dependant relationship? Well, that’s a subject for a whole other post, but at the moment let’s just summarise it as being one in which the partners have made unconscious agreements – to be less than whole, to limit each other’s potential, to end up with less than what they had before they were together.
In contrast, in a co-committed relationship, the partners support each other in being whole, complete individuals. They each enable the other to express their potential and creativity; they are each more easily able to access their creativity as a result of loving, supportive interactions.
So back to the Hendricks’ essential co-commitments. Here is just a summary of their recommendations. (We strongly recommend the Hendricks’ book Conscious Loving, for couples deciding to take this path of co-commitment.)
Co-Commitment 1: “I commit myself to being close, and I commit myself to clearing up anything in the way of my ability to do so.”
To make this statement is empowering for many partners in a relationship. By making it we are already on the road to co-commitment, to clearing up unconscious tendencies to co-dependence as these tendencies arise.
Co-Commitment 2: “I commit myself to my own development as an individual”.
Possibly (and frequently), in our childhood and in previous relationships, we have learned that to be in relationship means to limit ourselves, to be less than what we can be. This is a lie. In this co-commitment we state that we will not, to the best on our abilities, engage in this strategy, but will work on being the best we can be in our own right.
Co-Commitment 3: “I commit to revealing myself fully in my relationships, not in concealing myself”.
The wounds from previous relationships can convince us to hide parts of ourselves from our partner. In this co-commitment we state that we will no longer do this. When both partners in a relationship are prepared to do this, the effects can be miraculous!
Co-Commitment 4: “I commit myself to the full empowerment of people around me”.
In co-dependent relationships there is a secret need for people to be less than who they should be. With this commitment we state that we support the full development of the people around us, including our partner. This is a valuable gift to them.
Co-Commitment 5: “I commit to acting from the awareness that I am 100 percent the source of my reality”.
This is a powerful commitment to seeing that relationships cannot grow when based on projections, on blaming our partner, on victimhood. It is a commitment we do well to return to each day!
Co-Commitment 6: “I commit myself to having a good time in my close relationships”.
The Hendricks make the point that it is only in a last few hundred years ago that relationships have been considered “romantic” (in European culture, anyway), rather than merely of survival value. Survival relationships can be grim, painful and difficult. It is empowering to clearly state that this is not how we value our relationships: that instead we take a conscious stand for enjoyment in them.
- See also: Practice Secure Couples Principles
- See also: Attack/Defense versus Mutual Exchange
- See also: The Subtle Power of Reflective Listening