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Reclaiming Our Intelligence
Marilyn Robb

November 11 & 12

Knowing our

December 2 & 3

Partners Skeptical of RC

Dear RC list,

I am female and trying to have a life in which RC, future parenting, and being as much of an artist as I can (given societal collapse) are central to it. I’m writing to ask about any experience you’ve had with partners (life partners, marriage partners, co-parents, and so on) who were skeptical of RC when you decided to move forward with them as your partner. Did you spend time counseling them into supporting you to have RC and a big life (despite their skepticism)? If so, did that take anything away from your having a big life?


Dear A—,

I have been in RC for forty-four years—some of that time leading in RC. My first wife and my children participated in it briefly. I can’t recall that my wife was skeptical of RC. She seemed to think it was a good idea.

My second marriage is in its tenth year. My partner and I appreciate our differences and feel enriched by them. She is supportive of my participation in RC. From her perspective she has her own program for closeness and spiritual growth and I have mine. I am no longer trying to recruit her. I believe that would be sexist.

We can all be good listeners even if our partners can’t reciprocate at first. We can all model valuing discharge. We can also exchange time with our partners, with or without a timer, and then we are Co-Counseling!

Of course, skepticism about RC is not necessarily the most problematic issue in partner relationships. Class background, current work and class status, internalized oppression, and agreement about having and parenting children can be more important.


 Dear A—,

This is an important question. Thanks for writing.

If you are going to parent, it’s important to pick a partner who has some understanding of RC and is not hostile to it. If he is not interested in participating in RC, he should at least be able to follow your lead and be able to listen to discharge and feel okay with it. Also, before you decide to have children with him, you should spend time with children together with him and see how he is with them.

I speak from my experience in watching couples raise children. Raising children is hard. In addition to the economic oppression, our heaviest feelings come up when a baby enters our lives—feelings from when our chronic distresses got laid in as newborns and babies. None of us are as prepared for this as we’d like to be, and all of us wish we could’ve set things up better beforehand. However, we can try to have a few things in place so that we can give our children the best chance at knowing we are committed to being there with them and can listen to them.

We need to choose partners with whom we can process the difficult distresses as they come up. Nothing much is harder and more unworkable than two parents going in different directions with their children. Even the most experienced RC parents will have differences and big feelings about each other. Still, with a foundation of understanding between two people, things can work. Parenting can bring couples closer together—but without the foundation and shared understanding of what they are trying for, it’s very difficult.

I think when we come into a partnership with a man, we need to have a “bottom line” [something we expect, with no compromise]. My bottom line is that I get to have a big life. I think it is okay and often empowering to spend time counseling our male partners on this, as long as they know it is our bottom line.

As parents we need to understand that for some period of time (not forever) we will have to put some of our goals aside in order to ensure that our families get enough of our attention to function. It’s always messy, and that’s okay. And as females we still get to be the center of our lives.

As the International Liberation Reference Person for Parents, I have been struggling with how to talk about all this to young adults who are forming relationships with people they may want to parent with. I’m not the final word, but this is my best answer at the moment.

Marya Axner

International Liberation
Reference Person for Parents

Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

 I am a man in a forty-three-year-long relationship with a woman. We are both RC leaders. Before we met I had learned a lot about women’s liberation from feminists that I knew, and it all made sense to me (though that does not mean I was or am today free of sexist patterns).

I “got into” RC first and knew it would be a mistake to try to get her “in.” The story as she tells it is, “Dan had been in RC for two years and was so much easier to live with that I thought there must be something useful about it.” She got in a class and rather quickly became Regional Reference Person.

What can be learned from my experience? Harvey Jackins used to say that you can’t “tell” people RC, you have to “show” them RC.

I think the smartest thing I’ve done in all of my relationships is to not assume that RC would save or even improve the relationship and to instead take full responsibility for its success or failure.

The experience of a heterosexual man in this regard is probably different than that of a female.

In any close male-female relationship it seems important that there be an agreed-upon expectation that the man will in some way (I don’t think it has to be with RC) explore and be committed to improving his emotional state.

Dan Nickerson

Freeport, Maine, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion
list for RC Community members


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00