In the world of relationships, what defines our quality of life is the ability to create meaningful connections. Whether it’s in our marriages, friendships, or family dynamics, we all yearn to be seen, respected and have our needs met. Yet, it’s not uncommon for the desire to be the “important one” in a relationship to lead to conflicts and misunderstandings.
Consider the common scenario of arguments between spouses. Why do most of these conflicts arise? It’s often because one or both partners firmly believe that their perspective is the “right way.” From choosing a dinner spot to managing finances or parenting styles, the stronger our attachment to our own wants and needs, the harder it becomes to see the situation from our partner’s viewpoint.
As a marriage counselor, I’ve witnessed countless couples grappling with this challenge. They make progress in understanding each other, only to revert to what I call “the accusation arrow” – where being right becomes more important than peace, their partner’s feelings, or the future of their relationship. This is a universal human tendency – prioritizing our perspective over our other’s.
Many individuals and couples express concerns about not getting what they need from their spouse. They fear their partner won’t meet their expectations. Paradoxically, I believe that the key to getting what we need in a relationship lies in giving others what they need.
Please understand me, this isn’t about keeping score or seeking validation or even worse, becoming your partner’s slave, it’s about authentically connecting with your life partner, genuinely desiring their well-being. In a thriving relationship, both partners commit to providing for each other equally, embodying humility and service.
This wisdom aligns with the ancient teaching: “Do not seek greatness for yourself, and do not lust for honor; let your performance exceed your learning.” In essence, prioritize being the best partner you can be over seeking recognition. When you are consistently open to truly hearing your partner’s needs, you’ll often find that they respond in kind, creating a harmonious cycle of mutual care and consideration.
How can we do this?
Suspend the ego for true connection.
The ego, our ever-present psychological shield, acts as a protector, safeguarding us from vulnerability. It serves as a self-defence mechanism, prepared to fend off perceived threats. Yet, when it comes to deepening our connection with our partners, a paradox unfolds – we must embrace vulnerability and suspend our ego.
Suspending our ego entails temporarily setting aside the need to be right, the need for self-preservation, and the desire to assert ourselves as all-knowing and infallible partners. It’s an acknowledgement that vulnerability is not a weakness but a path to genuine intimacy and understanding.
When our partners share their pain, fears, or dreams, our egos often push us to respond by asserting our own experiences or needs. We may want to relate, prove our resilience, or shield ourselves from appearing weak. This is precisely when we should suspend our ego and opt for empathy.
By doing so, we create a safe haven for our partners to express themselves without encountering our defensive ego. We become a sanctuary for their emotions, a compassionate listener. It’s in these moments of vulnerability and shared understanding that we nurture a deeper, more profound connection.
Suspending our ego does not weaken our strength or worth in the relationship. On the contrary, it enhances our capacity to love, support, and connect with our partners beyond ego-driven conflicts. It’s a powerful step towards building a resilient partnership, one where both individuals can thrive in the security of vulnerability.
In summary, by both partners embracing the wisdom of putting your partner first and combining it with effective communication and ego suspension, you can cultivate fulfilling and harmonious relationships. Prioritizing your partner’s needs and desires alongside your own paves the path to the truest connections, creating relationships built on mutual selflessness and genuine care for one another.