Squares in synastry have a bad reputation. Mars, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto squares have a particularly nasty rep as they’re associated with misunderstandings and conflict. But a negative and fatalistic view of squares in synastry could have you caught up in self-defeating self-talk, when in many cases all that’s required is the development of greater understanding and compassion for each other.
As Steven Forrest writes in his excellent article Love Handles: Practical Synastry in Action, aspects are the ‘glue’ that hold a relationship together. Without aspects between two charts there would be no attraction, and little reason to interact at all. Easy aspects, such as trines and sextiles, keep us together because they feel good, they are comfortable. Difficult aspects, such as oppositions and squares, keep us together by making things interesting. They are the friction that creates the sparks, the tension that leads to development, growth and change. Without oppositions and squares in synastry a relationship will get boring fast!
In reality aspects are neither good nor bad. All can be used positively to fulfill the basic function of a healthy relationship: to help each individual reach their highest potential. Squares in synastry are no exception.
With oppositions in synastry we often find ourselves in power struggles related to the area of the chart and the signs involved. With squares in synastry there is a tendency towards misunderstanding; blaming and judgment often results. The planets are in such different signs that there is a basic inability to see things from the other person’s perspective, but being in the same quadruplicity (cardinal, fixed or mutable) there is also a certain similarity that we may not be able to see. We may deny these qualities in ourselves, while projecting them onto the other.
Some squares in synastry are not as difficult as others
The chances of misunderstanding and conflict occurring with squares in synastry has a lot to do with the planets involved, and with the placements of the planet’s in the signs and houses.
Let’s take an example. A woman’s 8th House Capricorn Moon is square a man’s Saturn in Libra in the 5th. She is a person who feels very intensely but tends to cover it up with a mask of capable, professional detachment. He is someone who makes his decisions on values of fairness and justice rather than emotionality, and although his Pisces Sun makes him very intuitive he has little time for over the top expressions of feeling. He is therefore very attracted to this women who seems to manage her emotions so well.
Unfortunately Moon in Capricorn is not always honest when asked if she’s ok! She may put on a brave face but deep down she’s intensely confused and unhappy. Knowing that Saturn admires her for her non-attachment and balanced perspective she is all the more likely to keep her feelings to herself and over time begins to feel repressed, secretive and insecure.
Fortunately with this placing we have two features that help bring greater understanding. The first is the Moon’s placing in Saturn’s sign of Capricorn. This brings some commonality and each partner is therefore able to see the others motivations more clearly. The second is a trine aspect between the woman’s Moon and the man’s Chiron, giving him a strong desire to foster her emotional healing. He is therefore likely to have greater patience and a stronger desire to penetrate her shell. Both of these factors give the couple a greater chance of working through and resolving the misunderstandings inherent in the square aspect.
Thus, even in the case of the much-feared Moon-Saturn square, some squares in synastry are not as difficult as others. It all depends on the planets, signs and houses involved, as well as the way the square interacts with the other elements in the chart. As we see over and over again, understanding astrology is all about seeing things as a whole. You cannot take one element and look at it in isolation.
How can squares in synastry lead to a healthy relationship?
- Practice empathy – Overcoming squares in synastry, especially the ones that are causing a lot of misunderstanding and conflict, is all about practicing empathy. We need to see from the other person’s perspective, a perspective that may seem completely alien to us. We need to gifts of Neptune to imagine what it is like to be them, with their particularly astrological traits and neuroses.
- Let go of control – Sometimes we need to recognise that the conflict in our relationships, whether caused by squares in synastry or other factors, is not going to go away until one person backs down. By remaining conscious and present you can often see when the issue between you is just not worth the unhappiness caused by the conflict. Surrendering your position, as long as it is done with good will, completely disarms the other and leaves you both free to enjoy each others company.
- Accept the other person as they are – The unfortunate reality is that none of us are perfect, but some of us have yet to accept this. We may beat ourselves up for our own faults or we may harass others for theirs, but neither approach is very useful. Accepting ourselves and others as we are, especially when this does not fit the model of how we would like things to be, is a fundamental step towards developing healthy relationships.
- Take responsibility for your own needs – It’s easy to blame others for failing to meet our needs and squares in synastry make this more likely. For example a woman with Venus square her partner’s Mars may feel angry that they are rough and ready in the bedroom when what she craves is sensuality. If in all other ways the relationship is a good one, this woman might consider meeting her need for sensuality elsewhere, such as by enjoying a perfumed bath or having a professional massage.
- Communicate – Communication is vital in any relationship and the misunderstandings caused by squares in synastry make it all the more important. Never assume the other person understands where you’re coming from, or blame them for failing to ‘get you’ when you haven’t been clear about how you see the world, your needs or your feelings. If communicating tends to backfire on you, leading to drama and conflict, check out the principles of Non Violent Communication. They’ve helped me a lot :)
Of course there are times when no amount of communication and empathy will help. Abusive and co-dependent relationships have deeper problems at their root. If you’re in a relationship where you feel put down not built up, the wisest course of action may be to walk away. There’s no point flogging a dead horse. If you can’t seem to get out of the relationship, seek help. When you’re in a soul-destroying relationship you may no longer have the strength to walk away. In such cases seek out a person who loves and cares for you and ask for their support. In time you will regain your strength and then you may have the opportunity to return the favour.
Squares in synastry contain important lessons our relationship can teach us about ourselves and others. When we view them in this way, instead of as fatal flaws that doom the relationship from the start, we can use them for our personal growth. As always there is no need to force anything. Just become aware of where there is misunderstanding or tension. As you become more conscious of the roles the two of you are playing, you will find the situation naturally shifts and changes. This may be towards greater harmony between the two of you or, where one or both people is unable to adapt, it may mean an end to the relationship.
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Image by Eevee Moon.