When we are young, we spend a lot of time thinking about our needs and how to get them met. Teachers ask us what we want to be when we grow up, and parents ask us what we want to eat for lunch and what we want to wear to school that day. As a result, we become really good at understanding our needs and getting them met. Then, one glorious day, we meet someone great who we can’t wait to share our time with. We start learning all about them and telling them all about ourselves. If we are lucky, we fall in love and create a relationship with this person. This amazing person who will meet all our needs…
Then one sad day we wake up and are no longer happy and that great love and relationship we had has started to sour. “What happened?” you ask yourself. When did the relationship stop meeting all MY needs? I will tell you when it happened…it happened the moment you stopped meeting the needs of the relationship.
Here’s the problem. When you and your partner came together you created something between the two of you. Your relationship became an entity with needs of its own. Needs that are sometimes in competition with the needs of the individuals in the relationship. In other words, you became a team. The goal of the team is to score as many points as possible to try to win the game and win that healthy relationship you long for. But, what happens for most couples is that the partners resort back to thinking only of their individual needs and become opponents when they feel their personal needs are not being met. At that moment, the needs of the relationship are neglected and the connection between the partners is strained. Do you and your partner operate as teammates or opponents when things get tough? When you do become opponents and one of you “wins” what does that do to the relationship and your sense of connection?
I challenge you and your partner to start observing your relationship from this perspective. Notice that when you work as a team and focus on the relationship’s needs each of you win by having a healthier relationship. Stop competing and start working together to “win” for the relationship.