Couples Counselor Dr. Ray Bergen
talks about his Hero & Goddess program for real love...
What is the Hero & Goddess view of relationships?
Hero & Goddess work is not about how to hold a relationship together. This work is about how to be lovers. Hero and Goddess are roles, not rules. Embracing these roles creates lovers; abandoning them creates despair.
The key to being lovers is understanding the universal archetypal drama that all lovers re-enact over and over and over again. The variations are as many as there are different snowflakes, but the one drama remains. This drama reveals why women claim an inherent right to change men, and why men resist that change with all their might. The archetype of "The Lovers," which we experience by celebrating our maleness and femaleness to their fullest, is represented by the archetypes of Hero and Goddess. On the level of archetypes, the ground level on which relationships operate, each relationship becomes a training ground for becoming Hero and Goddess to each other.
Classically, a Hero steps beyond his own fears and preoccupations for a higher good. The relationship Hero lays down his aggressive weapons (i.e. anger). Armed only with his love, he strides boldly into their conflicts and rescues both of them from the clutches of her "Dragon" personality. By freeing her femininity he reunites them with the magic of being lovers.
A Goddess is the complete feminine, at once playful, graceful, and alluring, as well as a willful witch and nag. She weaves these qualities through her relationship like a screenplay, where she is player and director simultaneously. Her choices: deny her power, then lash out in despair; or, trusting her ability, guide her Hero to realize their dream.
This sounds like a wonderful fairy tale. Buy, how does it apply to modern-day, complex relationships?
Maybe modern day relationships aren't as complex as we make them out to be. Again, I am not talking about practical issues like juggling parenting with two careers. I am talking about how to stay being lovers. If we don't maintain romance the rest becomes burdensome quite quickly. By calling something simple, I am not implying it is easy. Relaxation is simple, as is meditation. No one would call them easy. Breathing is simple; yet full, rich breaths are a life-long goal, as is relaxation and meditation; because they all share in the Infinite.
The only way to achieve something simple is to make it our main focus. This is what we did when we first "fell" in love. From that state all these other, so called, complexities fell into their proper place. It's not that they didn't exist, they just didn't throw us. Unless we make our relationship our main spiritual practice it will stop nourishing us, love will be overtaken by conflict and die. Then everything will feel a burden, overwhelming, and very complex.
My wife, Akama, and I have a very busy and intense life combining our work, family, friends, and a love life. Yet it is simple because we know our priority is to constantly nurture our relationship by means of our Hero and Goddess roles.
You say we should make our relationship our main spiritual practice. The word, "practice" suggests there are practical methods that a Hero and Goddess would employ on their journey. Can you speak about the steps on the Hero-Goddess path?
Yes! This work is amazingly practical and down-to-earth. That is why we conduct classes, "Hero 101", and" Goddess 101", to teach the practical skills involved. Just like our physical the cells in our physical body recycle every seven years, relationships progress in seven year cycles (that old saying about the seven year itch is real). Within that cycle there are four stages that each relationship passes through. The role of Hero and the role of Goddess changes according to which stage each couple is at.
So, you see, I can't lay out all the steps in a few lines (I guess relationships are at least that complex). Yet they exist. In Hero Training Classes, men start with step one and progress. They learn how to protect the relationship foundation and how to rescue her, which in its highest form means freeing her to be the fullest expression of womanhood she can be. In Goddess training classes women learn step one, etc., about how to "make her stand", then how to guide her man to accomplish their vision.
Is the Hero & Goddess work only for couples, or can singles play the game too?
This work is definitely for singles, too. We did a presentation recently and more single men showed up than any other category--And it was a talk on "What it means to be a Goddess." We have some singles in our classes, and they are an expanding category. They come looking to meet someone with the same ideals. We plan to start a Hero & Goddess Dating Service where each person has taken a class and committed themselves to do the work in order to be on the list. We get a lot of requests for that. Everyone is trying to figure out the new "Rules of Dating" which are the same as following the Hero and Goddess Roles.