“Undefended Love” by Jett Psaris and Marlena Lyons

A thought-provoking book, more profound than I expected. Refreshingly, both same-gender and opposite-gender couples are used for the examples.

The authors warn several times to be sure a relationship is not abusive before using it as a crucible for personal work. This is a warning that’s missing from most relationship books I’ve read, which instead blithely assure the reader that one-sided work can fix everything.

The requirements for a close relationship are covered first: Reciprocity, Entitlement, Approval, Consensus, and Trustworthiness, conveniently abbreviated REACT.

In an non-abusive, close relationship, conflicts can help the partners look inward to discover their “Cracked Identity,” pass through the agony of the Black Hole instead of defending against it, and emerge into peaceful, joyous essence on the other side.

This is similar to the process of accepting and integrating past trauma, so that all made sense to me.

I was less comfortable with the hierarchy of needs, wants, desires, preferences, and no preferences. It’s too easy for me to pretend my needs aren’t important when I know it’s “more enlightened” not to have preferences at all. At the same time, I know that an issue will be much less urgent for me if I have processed past associations with it.

Despite the much-needed warnings about abusive relationships, I am still uneasy about the power dynamics that aren’t addressed. Calmly witnessing someone’s deep personal work takes training, and it’s not necessarily healthy for couples to act as therapists for each other. Also, saying that it’s better to act from essence than from personality is yet another judgment of ourselves and each other.

That said, the more people healing their inner wounds, the better!

Available at Powell’s Books.

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