When my mother married my Dad in 1950 her expectations were that he would work and provide for her and their family. My mother expected to stay at home, cleaning, shopping, cooking and accompanying my father on his social activities. I know this is an over-simplification: they certainly loved each other and were good friends too – but that was broadly the paradigm in which they operated their relationship.

I remember that during the '70s, my mother longed for more than domesticity, but she was convinced that my father would be mortallly wounded if she went 'out to work'. I was working by then, and she freely admitted that she envied me my financial freedom and my ability to choose.

How different my expectations were to hers even then. And I know that, for many of us coming to relationship again in our later years the 'rules' are different from my first ones, 30+ years ago. This is a vital difference to embrace, as in order to live in a way that is deeply sustainable, satisfying and expansive, we need to develop a new set of relating skills.

I have made a list (not exhaustive) of some of key differences between what I term “power based relationship and 'heart based' relationship. This is a foundational piece to the rest of this series, in which I aim to clarify and coach you through the underlying skills needed to step into this new and powerful way of being in relationship.


Role dependent, each partner 'giving' something to get something in return.

Rigid or fairly rigid expectations of each other that are rarely or never debated.

The partner with the greater earning power gets to make decisions often without conferring with the other partner.

Secrecy is seen as necessary and valid in order to protect personally sensitive matters and areas.

It is expected that the relationship is for a lifetime.

Conversations are limited in contenct to family and local matters, anecdotes and organising family/personal lives. Opinion is rife and questioning is not encouraged. The purpose is often to maintain a hierarchy and control.

Social class, age, race and economic status have to be aligned, or partially aligned

Religious and political views and affiliations are often the same and it's desirable that this is so.

Children are brought up to 'do as we do'. They are expected to fulfil their family/parents expectations.

Sex is seen as a 'right' of marriage/partnership.

The growth of the relationship is measured in years, possessions, status and family 'successes'The growth of the relationship is measured by the joy and growth of the individuals in it. l


Not predicated on specific roles. Tasks that need to be done are negoiated and re-negotiated as the need arises.

Growth and change are seen as natural, necessary and important. Open discussionsa bout expectations are considered healthy.

Decisions are made in partnership with the consequences for the relationship and the individuals playing a vital part. Mutuality is key.

Transparency is seen as desirable as is the need to set, maintain and change personal and relationship boundaries.

Growth and stability determine the length of the relationship; there is no quantative expectation.

.Class, age, race and economic status are not primary drivers. Friendship, respect and trust are key.

Both parties are free to express across a broad range of topics. Informed, educated opinion and life experiences feed into the discussions. The purpose is often to learn and grow and sharing thoughts and ideas is very desirable.

Religion and politics are seen as very personal choices and often there is no strong affiliation to either. Sprituality is valued above dogmatic belief systems.

Children are raised to trust their innate knowing, in anmosphere of love, respect an support for their personal gifts and talents.

Sex is seen as something that is given and shared willingly or not at all.

The growth of the relationship is measured by the joy and growth of the individuals in it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So, you might ask why I entitled this piece with reference to 'spritually rich relationships?” I did so because living 'from the heart' is, I believe, the key to sprituality. I define spirituality as being “the sense of and actions arising from, knowing and feeling one's absolute connection to everyone and to all things.

In order to live 'from the heart' we have to abandon the effort to create safety and gain, and instead, become willing to give truth, be vulnerable and aim to act 'for the highest good for all concerned' rather that 'me or you'. 'win or lose'.

In the rest of this series I'll show you how self-knowledge and integirty coupled with a particular use of language, will naturally take you and hold you into the world of heart-based, spirtually rich and rewarding relationships.

Bon Voyage!!

Author's Bio: 

Debs de Vries is the U.K.s leading provider of guided meditations and coaching Mp3s and CDs. She writes extensively about simple yet profound ways of enriching and improving lives. In this series Debs explore the differences between relationships that are based on 'power' and 'roles' and those that are built on mutual growth.