The myth that destroys all intimate relationships… and how not to get seduced by it.
The Themes That Create The Most Conflict: “My ability to love is much greater than yours.” “I am more committed to our relationship.” “I have the biggest hurt.” “I am more open than you are.” “My stability and reasonableness far exceeds your capability.” If you have heard these thoughts either overtly or covertly being expressed in your partnership, then you’ve bought into the myth. You’ve been seduced by the difference game. The Most Dangerous Myth of All: “One of you is better than the other.” There exists the belief that the two of you somehow came together, but within a short time period a glaring difference was revealed which at first wasn’t apparent. Or there might have been signs of this disparity in the relationship, but it was ignored in the glare of the romantic intensity. Now it has become clear that one of the themes listed above, or something similar, is really true. Mistaken Entitlements: “Collecting on what you ‘think’ is owed to you.” Since one of you feels that the relationship is far from being an equal one, the lesser party will need to make up for that imbalance. This will occur in two ways: The first way is reminding your partner constantly about the inequity. “How do you expect me to feel when you love me so little?” “Because of your lack of commitment, this relationship will never be anything!” “Nothing can ever satisfy you!” The second way is cashing in on the debt. “I don’t have to have sex based on the love shortage and commitment in this marriage!” “Why should I come home when you act so irrationally?” The Biggest Illusion That Holds Couples Back: “I have made my case against you.” Couples who fail to see through the myth spend their time proving and validating in all kinds of ways the belief that “We’d have a great relationship if it weren’t for you.” Those who are able to hold on to the illusion of being better for a sufficient length of time are often granted the price of divorce. This enables a couple to participate legally, as well as emotionally, in making the other truly pay for the inequality that he or she had to endure. This hierarchical thinking ends up painful for all, especially the children. How to Expose The Myth: Confessing that you selected the person that you are with All couples pick their partner, even though it is largely unconscious. Why else would they be together? Surely in this day and age, it was not prearranged by outside sources. Any appearance of imbalance in a relationship is due to the role-playing and posturing partners unconsciously agree to. Pursuers connect with distancers, open individuals link up with private people, as part of their character patterns. It has nothing to do with love. In fact, you can only match up with someone who has the same capacity to love as you do or you wouldn’t be together. If you were really different in your love capacity, you’d display “loving disinterest” and simply pass in the night without a remark. I agree with the well known family therpapist Carl Whitaker’s assertion: “The love on both sides is equal. Partners merely take turns with who is going to insist on the love, and who is going to protect against it.” How to Find Real Security By Learning to See Beneath The Mythical Differences: “Learning that we are the same.” We often ask why do you couples stay together? They remain married or involved because at the core they are the same. The sameness I speak of does not refer to specific individualized skills, but in their being equally wounded, equally frightened, and equal in their willingness to risk exposing who they are. All of the surface behavior, regardless of how different the partners may look, are merely a façade to hide this truth: Involved couples have the same capacity for intimacy. When a couple can recognize and integrate this attitude of mutuality, they no longer need to see the other as the enemy, have much desire to be righteous, or use the other to engage in ongoing conflict. Instead there is humble softening and sense of safety that occurs in the relationship, and their hearts truly open toward the other. In addition, with a foundation of sameness, a couple can support all of the differences that will naturally emerge in the relationship; the acceptable and the unacceptable. Remember This Secret of Relationships: “Those who perceive themselves as unequals have a greater risk for divorce” The ultimate goal of mutuality is not to find a connection you lost. It is to recognize a connection you’ve always had. When you see yourself and the world through the eyes of real equality, there is nothing to fear, nothing to prove, and nothing more you must be.