These aren’t “The Rules” that Oprah loves. DAVID RICHO’s arise out of Buddhism, a Catholic priesthood and depth psychology
SOUL’S CODE — Shrunken stock portfolios, canceled checks, and an unemployment rate in the double-digits indicate that couples who are distressed in their relationships today will stick together tomorrow.
Stick it out, rather than walk out is a distinctly anti-Me Generation response to fear and unmet wants — the opposite of the Baby Boomer ethic of autonomy and desire-fulfillment.
The polar-opposite is our parents’ and grandparents’ code for survival — a Survivor-response to love and relationships forged in the scarcity of The Depression’s and WWII.
Will the Great Recession make that the norm? Or will it still be the Baby Boomer way? Either way, is your relationship something to save — even while savings are lost? David Richo offers a checklist.
Richo’s way, is the Buddhist ‘middle way’ between poles of self-indulgence and self-abnegation.
A triple-threat as they say in Hollywood, Richo is a one-time Catholic priest, who earned a Phd. in psychology — and then went Buddhist. A highly-regarded Jungian psycho-therapist, Richo is also the author of 13 books, including his breakthrough, How to Be an Adult in Relationships.
He may be the world’s most insightful observer of how relationships work, or don’t. And whether you should stay, or go. On that turning point, here is a matrix of the difference between a realized teacher like Richo and daytime-TV, schlock-jocks (come on down, Dr. Phil):
DR. PHIL: I am here to help you fix the story of what happened to you, bolster your personality (ego), and push you to get what you want.
DAVID RICHO: Entrenchment in ego is the biggest obstacle to intimacy. I am here to help you become more conscious of your conditioning, and it is keeping you stuck in repetitive patterns.
OPRAH/DR. PHIL: Have some self-respect, get some spine, and kick him to the curb . . . (just like Oprah did to that one, who wrote A Million Little Pieces).
DAVID RICHO: If the purpose of relationships is to show us where our (inner) work lies, there’s actually no blame to spread around. You’d say, ‘Thank you for showing me what my work is.’
OPRAH/DR. PHIL: What are the things you want in a man to be happy? Tell us (translation: my ratings/audience) your (ego’s) needs.
DAVID RICHO: If you rush into a relationship because of attraction and chemistry, it’s probably best to run the other way unless you can say: “Oh, here is a chance to do my work, and the other person agrees that they’ll do theirs.” But if you think of the relationship simply as, ‘we’re going to satisfy each other,’ the unconcsious will present it’s “bill”.
OPRAH/DR. PHIL: Get over it, girl. Move on, and move on up. Time to close a door so you can open a new one.
DAVID RICHO: What do I have from my own past to take care of before I can enter a healthy relationship?
And here’s a question for Richo: what things should we ask ourselves to discern whether a relationship is worth working on, or a space that we should leave. Richo has distilled what he’s learned from Buddhist devotion, scholarly research and clinical observation down to a handful of qualities: Ask yourself if your relationships has these five “A’s”:
Richo doesn’t trumpet these in a stump speech of talking points at a Las Vegas convention center like Tony Robbins or Deepak Chopra.
Instead, he prefers audiences like the 200 seekers and practitioners who spent a weekend with him at a northern California Buddhist retreat called Spirit Rock, where he shared more essential relationship ingredients that start with the letter “A.” You also want to ask if you and your partner share:
Agreement (as in, a relationship isn’t a high-concept thing; it’s essentially the sum of a series of kept agreements)
Authentic presence (as in Martin Buber’s “I am thou”)
In a display of spiritual stand-up, Richo sprinkled his talk with contemporaneous references to everything from the Book of Ezekiel and Emily Dickinson to Hollywood romantic comedies during un-scripted Q&A sessions. Memorable lines:
Adults aren’t people who no longer need parenting; they’ve switched the need for parenting from birth parents to a partner, church, guru or therapist.
What is chemistry? It means you have found an apt candidate for transference.
EZEKIEL: “Look how I was wounded in the house of those who loved me.”
“Resent” in Latin means to ‘feel over and over again.’ Resentment is a cover for grieving.
Back to your relationship, and whether you should stay or go. If it has enough of Richo’s five A’s, he prescribes three basic steps for working out any issue — whether it’s about depressed stocks, a failing career, or a depressed soul.
- A) Address the problem. Name it. Articulate an issue in the relationship, without blame: “I am unhappy with how much you drink.”
- B) Articulate how it makes you feel, and relate it to a past. Report the feelings that go with the problem (processing). Acknowledge how the feeling is fueled by your past. How do you know if it’s connected? If you’re experiencing it intensely, and taking it seriously, it’s connected.
- C) Make an agreement with your intimate partner about how to change it.
This is the essence of how to be an adult in a relationship, a loaded term at first glance. But Richo’s defnition of an adult isn’t judgemental. In fact, it’s both invitingly simple and inclusive: An adult is someone who has expanded their potential for fulfillment.
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