Updated: May 17
Recently, I have been sharing about my weekly Zoom 'date' with my Dad; interviewing him for a book. This special time that I created in order to spend more quality time with him, has become a highlight for both of us, allowing us to connect and share our lives. Through these conversations, as I view my father’s life from birth to 88 years of age, AND our relationship with each other, the idea of the hero’s/heroine’s journey came to my mind.
The hero's or heroine’s journey, popularised by Joseph Campbell in 1949, is a story pattern that reflects our own experiences. It consists of stages that a hero/heroine undergoes in their quest for self-discovery. And I love how these stages align remarkably well with the ups and downs we encounter in our relationships.
Movies like The Princess Bride, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Matrix and The Wizard of Oz depict the hero's journey. Whilst there are between 3 and 17 stages that have been written about this metaphorical journey, I've chosen 7 stages that are represented in our relationships:
The Call to Adventure:
Just as a hero receives a call to embark on a grand journey, relationships often begin with a spark of attraction or a moment that drives us towards the unknown. It might be a chance encounter, a shared interest, or an intuitive feeling that nudges us towards exploring the relationship further.
Crossing the Threshold:
In relationships, crossing the threshold signifies a commitment to embark on the journey together. It involves vulnerability, leaving behind familiar territory, and embracing the uncertainties that lie ahead. It may require leaving behind past relationships or overcoming personal fears and insecurities.
Trials and Challenges:
Every hero faces trials and challenges on their journey, and relationships are no different. Disagreements, conflicts, and external obstacles test the strength of our bond. These difficulties provide opportunities for personal growth, mutual understanding, and deepening our connection with our partner.
In the hero's journey, the abyss represents the darkest point, where the hero faces their greatest fears and must confront their true self. In relationships, this stage often manifests as a crisis or a breaking point that calls into question the very foundation of the partnership. It may involve facing insecurities, addressing long-standing issues, or reevaluating the relationship's purpose and direction.
Transformation and Revelation:
As heroes emerge from the abyss, they experience a transformative shift in their character. Similarly, relationships that weather the storm often lead to personal and mutual growth. By confronting challenges, gaining new insights, and embracing change, partners can experience a deepened bond and a greater understanding of themselves and each other.
The Return and Integration:
Returning from the hero's journey involves bringing newfound wisdom and gifts back to the ordinary world. In relationships, this stage represents a shared understanding and integration of the lessons learned throughout the journey. It involves applying the growth achieved individually and together to create a stronger, more fulfilling partnership.
The hero's journey concludes with the hero acquiring the elixir, a reward or insight that brings transformation and a sense of accomplishment. In relationships, the elixir represents the rewards of love, intimacy, and a sense of shared purpose. It is the fulfilment and joy that result from navigating the challenges and deepening the connection.
Remember, the hero's/heroine’s journey is cyclical, not linear - just like relationships. They require continuous effort, attention, intentionality, adaptability, and a willingness to embark on new journeys together. There are ups and downs, joys and sorrows. And when you understand this is part of the journey, it can strengthen you to look for what is needed for that next stage.
By exploring the hero's journey within your relationship, you can discover the transformative power of love, find your courage to face challenges, and experience the rewards of growth and understanding that can take your relationship to a new level.
Wishing you all fulfilling and enriching journeys in your relationships!
Sharlene Halbert is a Relationship and Intimacy Coach, who believes in the power of love and transformation. Supporting couples who are ready to take their relationship to a new level, to create a vision for their future together, and to navigate the challenges along the way, is her passion. To find out how you can work with her, individually and/or as a couple, email her at email@example.com or book a free one-hour Clarity Session to see what that journey would look like for you by clicking here