Saturn's importance in relationships should not be overlooked, yet for some odd reason his influence often is, particularly in computer analyzed synastry charts, which tend to focus primarily on Sun, Moon, Venus, and Mars contacts. Perhaps Saturn is quickly dismissed as an 'outer planet' and therefore not relevant to relationships. Perhaps Saturn is brushed aside because of the intense karmic implications apparent with Saturn contacts in synastry. Regardless, Saturn does not often get the attention he deserves.
Saturn is a builder, a solidifying influence that is pertinent to the formation of any long-lasting relationship. Relationships aren't meant to be all light and fluff--they are intended for the individual growth of the two partners. Significant growth is not easy or very fun and Saturn contacts can be rather painful at times. Saturn in our charts is often expressed in an unconscious manner. It is our repressed child-hood fears, our own personal inferiority complex that can hold us back if we don't learn to express Saturnian energy consciously. Many times we are only made aware of this part of ourselves through the mutual projection/reflection inherent in our relationships. The true strength of any building's structure is known only after it withstands the force of a hurricane, earthquake, or other disaster. The same is true of our personality. We don't know what we are capable of until we are involved in a relationship that tests us and strengthens our resolve and determination.
In synastry, Saturnian contacts are often viewed negatively if there is a square (90 degrees), opposition (180 degrees), or conjunction ( 0 degrees) involved. It is often stated that the Saturn person has a restricting or limiting influence on the other person's involved planet. This is true to an extent but it should be understood that Saturn is the vulnerable one in this situation. He is trying to hide his pain, his weaknesses from his partner and does this with a self-protecting mechanism of domination and 'parental' guidance. The very part of the other person Saturn is trying to restructure is simply an unconscious projection on his part--it is a part of the Saturnian personality that he recognizes but can't consciously associate with himself. Through this relationship, and the reflection of the unconscious need for growth, the Saturnian person becomes more conscious, more developed, in his own right. So how does this affect the other person? Well, it can be very difficult at times but if the person can understand this part of the relationship and work with it, they too will grow. The Saturnian contact will help strengthen the other person's planet and give it more conscious structure. The tension can swing back and forth between the partners as the fears and needs of each partner are put to the test by the contact.
A positive Saturnian contact such as the trine (120 degrees) and the sextile (60 degrees) is easier to work with in the relationship because Saturn and the other planet have more of an understanding between them. Although Saturn can still be unconscious in these circumstances, chances are the Saturnian person has had some prior experience with a Saturnian connection in another relationship and thus has a more conscious knowledge of his Saturnian placement and is working more successfully with the energy. In the new relationship with the positive Saturn connection, the Saturnian is helping build up the structural personality of the current partner. This is a situation of growth for both partners as the Saturnian is learning to share his prior experiences in a teaching position while the other partner is developing the planet in question.
Without the strength and support of a significant Saturn contact, it is fairly difficult to think in terms of long-term possibility in a relationship. This planet is a powerhouse that is often avoided in synastry because the implications are, on the surface, unpleasant. After all, we really don't like to hear the truth about our relationships or ourselves. It is less painful and easier to avoid the truth, at least at first. However, avoidance and ignorance will eventually backlash and can possibly destroy a relationship that could have been saved if the two people involved were willing to open themselves up to their fears and hostilities and had learned to integrate the energy in a more healthy fashion.
While some synastry interpretations avoid Saturn and his importance in our relationships, it is one of the first planets I look at when I start a synastry reading. In my opinion, Saturn is not only important in a relationship, but is the very foundation of a long-term relationship. Without a foundation, all structures will collapse.