Essential Reading: Relationships and The Great Turning

Article by Carolyn Baker:

“During the past five years I have provided life coaching for a host of men and women around the world who have been deeply troubled by disparate perspectives between themselves and their spouses or partners regarding the future. Earlier in my life as a psychotherapist in private practice for seventeen years, I had come to believe that in the majority of cases, women were more motivated toward introspection and personal growth than men. After all, that was my experience in working with hundreds of female clients and a wide range of couples. In those days I had no understanding of the collapse of industrial civilization and probably would have considered it a bizarre notion conjured in the mind of some plucky Hollywood science fiction writer. It felt as far from my reality as anything could be.

“Today, after more than a decade of researching collapse and talking with countless individuals about it, I have come to believe that one of its most wrenching aspects may be a situation in which one partner in a relationship is well aware of collapse and actively preparing for it while the other partner is resistant to the notion of any future that is not brimming with optimism and infinite opportunities for a rich, fulfilling life. The disparity does not appear to adhere to gender stereotypes. In other words, sometimes women are collapse-aware and actively preparing while their male partner is resistant to their efforts. In other cases, male partners have been researching collapse thoroughly and are at their wits end in their attempts to convince a female partner to join them in preparing. In either case, the divergence of perspectives is agonizing for both individuals.

“The resistant or reluctant partner may accuse the other of “going through a phase,” or “over-reacting,” or even being crazy. Both partners may dig in more stubbornly, or they may begin doubting their own perspective or they may become laden with sorrow and begin feeling victimized.

“A plethora of responses are possible in such a divergent perspective between partners, but one thing is constant: It hurts….

“….the ending of a marriage or a committed relationship is one of a plethora of initiations or rites of passage that we mortals repeatedly encounter as we inhabit a physical body. Divorce, terminal illness, loss of a career, a bankruptcy, a severe injury—all are crises naturally encountered in the course of the human experience, but on a deeper level, invitations from the soul to explore our own depths. Thus, an initiation is more than an ordeal; it is a spiritual journey to the deeper self in each one of us. Every initiation requires that we have:

• A willingness to find meaning in it and that we are open to the lessons therein
• A support system of trusted others who may not grasp that we are enduring a rite of passage, but will be present to support us in our ordeal
• A welcoming “home” or celebration of our ordeal at pivotal moments in the journey
• A desire during and beyond the ordeal to become spiritual elders. That is to say that if we are willing to find meaning in the journey, we will invariably acquire wisdom that could not be gained elsewhere. Part of the completion of the journey then, is a commitment to utilizing our wisdom to nurture our fellow earthlings of all ages and pay forward the fruits of our experience.”


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