Part 1: “The Score Card”
“Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.”
– H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“Where there is love there is life.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
This month’s Relationship Essential addresses the fundamental dynamic in all relationships. It’s the reason that 99.9% of clients walk through my door – and why we have such a high divorce rate. The divorce rate tells only part of the story. If nearly half of couples legally divorce, then how happy are the other half? The fact is that most of them aren’t very happy at all. It’s been estimated that only about half of the half (25%) of couples that stay together are really happy together. I think it’s much less than that. Why are most relationships less than optimal?
Needs-based contract vs. Love-based Relationships
Several months ago I was listening to new age physicist, Tom Campbell (www.my-big-toe.com), talk about relationships and I was reminded of what I’ve been saying for a long time. Love is a feeling; and marriage, in the legal sense, is a binding contract. Indeed, the history of marriage illustrates the contractual, survival nature of marriage and it’s only been in the last several hundred years that marriage has been associated with “love.” The implications of a needs-based contract are profound.
After the initial “honeymoon,” infatuation period, most couples at some point, get into a “score card” or needs-based contractual way of relating. The loving generosity that characterizes new relationships tends to fade and inevitably gives way to partners trying to get their needs met. This is of course understandable because that’s how most of us set out to find a partner in the first place. The dating process is about trying to find someone that we think will meet our needs – bring home a paycheck, provide sex, cook, fix the car, etc. That’s what online dating is all about, putting your profile out there, selling yourself and hoping that someone will buy, or at least look at you. They choose you because they think you will meet their needs. In other words, people look for love from a self centered perspective – “what’s in it for me?” I’ve often said that dating is fraught with deceit and deception, putting your “best foot forward,” so to speak. People often forget or don’t even think about the fact that it usually takes at least 90 days for a bad habit to show up.
There is very little potential in a needs-based relationship. The best that couples in these situations can hope for is to be “amicable friends” that get along superficially. They don’t fight very much about the contract and they do their best to accept their partner’s flaws and faults. It’s a functional and unsatisfying way of relating. Yet, most often, needs-based relationships are filled with fear and ego, which in practical terms looks like the need to be right, get your own way, criticize, judge, retaliate, withhold, blame, conflict, etc. Understandably, most couples that go to marriage counselling are really there to re-negotiate the contract. The relationship may get better for while but inevitably the same issues come up and things revert to how they were before.
Love-based relationships have unlimited potential for happiness and joy. Love is the opposite of fear and ego. Love is about the OTHER, not ME. It’s about putting your partner’s needs ahead of your own and focusing on trying to make THEM happy. I do a talk called, “Happy Wife, Happy Life” and audiences, especially men, relate to the title in a profound way…
“They remember that the primary reason they got together
in the first place was to make each other happy.”
The bottom line is that we all have to come back to love. Set your own needs aside for awhile and focus on making your partner happy and see what happens…
In Part 2, I’ll be discussing the practical strategies for achieving a love-based relationship, especially the importance of gender from a primal perspective.