Can We Balance The Fighter and The Lover in Relationship?
While assisting at a Tantra workshop, I experienced the strong difference in my body between when I embody the Fighter or Warrior and when I embody the Lover archetype. It was such a pronounced and uncomfortable difference that I felt the need to write more about it and how it might impact us all in our relationships and in our lives. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, I give a very basic explanation of the four masculine archetypes in my post, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Four Mature Masculine Archetypes.
Of course, during a Tantra workshop I expected to open up my heart, be fully in my body and to activate the Lover archetype. Not exactly an earth shattering epiphany, now is it? I felt open, loving, spiritual, connected, soft, vulnerable and available.
However, as an assistant of the workshop, I also had responsibilities to see that a safe environment was set for the participants. Unfortunately there were a few snafus with logistics at the ocean view hotel we stayed at. To take care of these issues, I had to put on my Warrior armor. “This is DOCTOR Sheck, I’d like to speak to the hotel manager, …”
Immediately I could feel a different energy move through me. My voice became firm, my jaw set, my head tilted a certain way. Instead of loose hands, I had fists that pounded at the air and on tables. I could feel my body tense, could feel my sympathetic nervous system activate, readying the “fight or flight” response. And some of the other assistants witnessed the transformation as well.
At first I had a judgment about this and some critical self talk. “I’m at a Tantra workshop, I’m holding a loving space, I don’t want to feel this way right now, it’s wrong, I’m bad.”
Fortunately, I received positive feedback and encouragement from the assistants and workshop leader about the transformation and I let go of my critical voice. YES, the Warrior was needed at that moment. YES, he has a valuable contribution to make to the well being of the workshop participants. YES he can be here AND so can the Lover.
And I found that I could switch back and forth as needed. It was quite a valuable insight for me as well as a priceless experience. I felt it in my BODY, which is where the majority of my learning begins. Eventually I can integrate it into my MIND as well and embrace it all. Both Loveer AND Warrior archetypes are good, both are necessary. And those are just two out of the four!
And there are similarities in both Lover AND Warrior that I discovered. The main one, is ENDURANCE! To be a great Lover, one must have staying power. To be a great Warrior, one needs that tenacity as well. FOCUS and single-mindedness are also key to both Lover and Warrior.
Dealing with the hotel and achieving a satisfactory result took over a week. I have no doubt that on some level they were counting on the Warrior losing his hardness, losing his edge, losing his persistence. I spoke with three hotel managers, a sales manager and finally a general manager before I got what I felt was a fair outcome for all. If I had given up before the job was done, nothing would have happened.
So in this instance, I was able to balance Lover and Warrior, battling for the workshop leader, for the participants, for a just cause. The Warrior lead the battle, yet the Lover was the motivation for taking up the cause.
Back to the title question, “Can We Balance The Fighter And The Lover In Relationship?” This battle or this dance, occurs in every relationship. I can only write from a male perspective, yet I welcome feedback from the female perspective. To me at least on the surface, it seems that the qualities a man requires to be successful in the business world (the Warrior) are antithetical to the qualities necessary to be successful in an intimate relationship (the Lover). How do we create balance then?
Part of the struggle for me as a man, is rooted deep in our physiology. The typical life-threatening events that our prehistoric ancestors faced on a daily basis shaped our nervous system to respond powerfully when we perceived our survival to be at risk. The Warrior is activated. Now in intimate relationships, we often feel psychologically that our survival is at risk. And biologically speaking, when our relationship is at risk, then our “caveman” instincts feel that survival of our progeny and survival of the race is at risk. Definitely worth fighting for.
So what do we do with this? For me, as a psychologist working with couples for over twenty years, my belief is that in relationship, conflict is inevitable, AND this a GOOD thing.
Once the “honeymoon” phase of relationship has subsided, we move into the “power struggle” phase. It’s a natural progression to be embraced, not judged. The “power struggle” stage of relationship is necessary and is an opportunity to work through many of our childhood wounds and issues (To learn more, read my post, Three Stages of Relationship). It is only in embracing and working through this stage that we can enter a more “conscious” relationship which has an incredible richness.
It’s about creating balance. Even in my work as a psychotherapist, both the Warrior and the Lover are necessary to create change and growth. I’m definitely NOT one of those warm, fuzzy, “how does it make you feel” kind of therapists. I can be warm and sensitive and empathic, of course. The Lover takes over and helps create that space.
AND, the Warrior needs to be present as well. Every client at some point has to face their own inner demons and my job is to point them in that direction and have my Warrior join theirs! Our Swords of Truth must be raised high together to cut away the personal lies and negative self talk that keep them frozen and paralyzed.
If I don’t confront, if I don’t challenge where necessary, I am doing them a disservice and colluding with their stuckness. That’s NOT my way, that’s NOT what I do. That’s NOT how I can best serve.
And yes, as we connect to the Warrior, the natural response in our bodies is to feel exhilarated, powerful, alive and ready to face the challenge. Perhaps an extreme of that physiology is what creates adrenaline junkies, yet we ALL have that in us and it is the Warrior!
Back to balance in our romantic relationships. How do we create this? Deliberately and consciously!
We can deliberately choose to activate the Warrior in fearlessly and relentlessly facing our own inner wars and in battling our need to project our unresolved issues onto our partner and then making it about THEIR issues.
We can consciously engage the Lover in engaging COMPASSIONATELY in our inner conflicts, in LOVINGLY facing our inner critic, and in TENDERLY holding our partner as they face their own inner battles.
We can fight NOT against our partner in the power struggle, but fight WITH our partner to protect the sacredness of our relationship. This is how I would suggest a balance can be achieved between Warrior and Lover.
As always, I welcome YOUR thoughts and feelings about this topic of balancing the Warrior and Lover in relationship.