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When we meet a new lover, there is that joyous moment of relating to the person in the present, with our most creative energy. Sex is hot, and we notice every detail of who they are and what they do. We feel blessed to have met our match, the attractive force is powerful and curiosity rules the day. How, then, does it work out that in a short time, we can end up relating to this person from old patterns, often as a parent or child, or some combination of both? How does a daring romance turn into a sink of security issues?

Early in an experience of sexual attraction, we embody Mars and Venus relating to one another. Mars is associated with the sign Aries and the First House, which embody self-awareness, fiery desire and clear initiative. Venus is associated with the sign Libra and the Seventh House, which are sensitive, receptive, responsive and endowed with gifts and beauty, which Mars clearly perceives (and desires).

This works as long as we can maintain the energy of desire and fulfillment, and keep the awareness of an equal exchange. As time goes on, the force of the Venus-Mars polarity often wears off because more complicated needs come to the surface. The relationship goes beyond sex and romance as we really get to know one another. When we enter a relationship, we bring all our needs and our unfinished business of the past with us. We bring our lacks as well as our assets; we bring our wounds as well as our strengths.

Relationship Shifts

As these surface, we may find ourselves relating to the other along the Fourth House/Tenth House axis, associated with Cancer and Capricorn, which are in turn linked to the Moon and Saturn. We have moved from a horizontal axis to a vertical one, where authority replaces equality. When a relationship reverts to a continuing discussion of needs, limitations, insecurities, fears and unmet desires, we can be sure we’re relating to our partner in a Moon-Saturn arrangement, usually with one person playing out the "weaker" and the other the "stronger."

The Fourth/Tenth axis is the range in the chart where we first look for information about family conditions and the parents. Most astrologers check both houses for information about both parents. Either parent can play out the qualities of the Moon (nurturing, traditionally associated with the mother) or Saturn (authority and limitations, traditionally associated with the father), and either partner in a relationship can appear in life as father or mother, parent or child.

The Fourth House is like the inner core from which we relate to another, where we hold our insecurities and our emotional reality. It is where we relate to the world as the child we once were, or as the mature self-parent we have become.

When somebody "really gets to know us," we will start revealing the contents and needs of this house, which we possessed long before the current relationship started. Saturn and the Moon both relate to old material, or what some mystics call "karma."

What Can We Do?

If your relationship is going round and round, it’s time to wake up and check in with that old material, what in current parlance we call "issues." We might have not fully revealed all our fears or our needs. We might not feel like our gifts are being received by the other. We might be emotionally wounded and hiding that fact, and our partner unconsciously (or consciously) provokes our fear rather than coddles us. Or, we might not feel so safe standing in our sexual desire, which can lead to a sense of powerlessness.

Rather than blaming ourselves and others for being parental, we can have compassion here, because it turns out that all our earliest relationships were with our parents; this is what we learned first, and what we mimic. We originally entered life as an infant relating to others with all our needs, and in situations in which our parents had all the power. This is extremely potent and it’s a miracle anyone gets beyond it.

In reality, we all have needs, and we all have some capacity to fulfill the needs of others. If you’re in a Moon-Saturn pattern, then it’s a good idea to get those needs and nurturing capabilities out on the table, since both the Moon and Saturn have a tendency to lapse into unconsciousness and be multi-layered.

The Tenth House is where we go beyond ourselves and beyond our relationships and make our mark on the world. But because this house is Saturn-ruled, we may find that we are facing frustrating limitations in these areas of our life, which will come home to roost in our relationships. So it’s best to be clear about what we need from the world-at-large that our partner cannot provide—and not blame them for our failures, our limitations or for the facts of the cruel world.

But then we come back to Venus and Mars. These two planets are pictures of people who know what they want and are ready to go at life with gusto. They are about the present moment, not the accumulated past (Fourth House) or the future we’re working toward (Tenth House).

Venus and Mars relate to one another on level ground (the axis of the horizon or First/Seventh) rather than on the vertical axis (the Fourth/Tenth), and if we look at our relationships, we can see these arrangements and make adjustments. Venus and Mars can be fearless about sex, not afraid to be different from one another, and undaunted by their own desires. Learning to be this way takes practice, self-awareness and reminding ourselves continuously that the person we are with is not our father, mother or child, but is in fact our lover.


For information on specific relationship issues in your natal chart, check out John Townley’s AstroText Love.



Eric Francis, the Seattle-based astrologer and essayist, writes Planet Waves. His twice-weekly horoscope and news service covers astrology, personal growth, environmental issues and political affairs. Eric blends astrology with investigative journalism and personal narrative to create a humorous, alive, and even responsible news source unique in the world.

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For more information about Eric Francis, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Eric Francis:

  • Venus and Mars Retrograde: Looking Back, Looking Within   1/25/2014
  • Beyond Death and Dowry: A New Sexuality   8/11/2012
  • Holistic Astrology: An Introduction to Chiron   3/17/2012
  • Beyond Death and Dowry: A New Sexuality   9/3/2004
  • Imbolc: In the Belly of the Stars   2/1/2001
  • Unbroken Chain: Samhain, Halloween and Scorpio   10/31/2000
  • The Kursk: Things Fall Apart   9/20/2000
  • Getting It Right: What to Do When Astrology Goes Wrong   7/30/2000
  • Go Figure! Newspaper Astrologers: How Do They Do It?   7/12/2000
  • Spicing Up Mercury Retrograde   7/6/2000
  • The Nuclear Axis   6/30/2000

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