The Powerful Secret to A Loving RelationshipBy Dr. Margaret Paul
December 31, 2006
A couple can have similar values, interests, and be very attracted to each other, yet still not have a loving relationship if this secret ingredient is missing.
There are many factors that go into creating a loving relationship. Certainly it helps if two people have some things in common regarding how they like to spend their time. It also helps if they have common values around religion or spirituality, around politics, the environment, abortion and personal growth. It helps if they both eat in similar ways. It makes things easier if both are neat or both are messy, if both are on time people or both are late people. Physical attraction is also quite important. It's great if they have common values around money and spending.
Yet a couple can have all of these and still not have a loving relationship if one element is missing. Without this essential ingredient, all the other wonderful attributes will not be enough to make the relationship work.
This essential ingredient is about intention.
The Power of Intention
At any given moment, each of us is devoted to only one of two different intentions: to control or to learn. When your intention is to control, your deepest motivation is to have control over getting love, avoiding pain and feeling safe. When your intention is to learn, your deepest motivation is to learn about being loving to yourself and to others.
The motivation to get love rather than be loving can create havoc within a relationship.
Let's look at a typical relationship issue and see what happens regarding the two different intentions. Jason and Alexis are feeling emotionally distant from each other, and they haven't made love in a month. The problem started when Alexis stated that she wanted to take an expensive vacation and Jason objected. Alexis got angry, Jason gave in and they have been distant ever since.
Alexis's intention was to have control over getting what she wanted. She equates an expensive vacation with love - if Jason does this for her, then he proves his love for her. She used her anger as a way to have control over getting what she wants. She wants control over feeling special to Jason.
Jason's intention was to avoid pain. He gave himself up to have control over Alexis not being angry with him. He hopes that by giving her what she wants, she will see him as a good and loving husband.
However, because both Jason and Alexis were trying to control each other rather than be loving to themselves and to each other, their interaction created emotional distance.
What would this have looked like if their intention had been to learn?
The Intention to Learn
If Alexis had been open to learning, she would not have gotten angry. Instead, she would have wanted to understand Jason's objections. If Jason's intention had been to learn, he would not have given himself up. Instead he would have wanted to understand why this particular vacation was so important to Alexis. Both Alexis and Jason would have been caring about themselves and each other, rather than wanting to get love or avoid pain. In their mutual exploration about why they each felt the way they did, they would have learned what they needed to learn about themselves and each other to reach a win-win resolution. Instead of Alexis ostensibly winning and Jason losing, they would have come up with something both of them could live with. With some exploration of his financial fears, Jason might have decided that the vacation Alexis wanted would be fine. With understanding of Jason's financial concerns, and of her own need to feel special, Alexis might have decided on a less expensive vacation. In either case, both of them would have felt fine about the outcome.
No matter how much Jason and Alexis have in common or are attracted to each other, their love will diminish when their intent is to control rather than learn. It's amazing how quickly love vanishes when one or both partners have the intent to control. It's equally amazing how fast it comes back when both partners have the intent to learn. Through a consistent Inner Bonding practice, each person can gradually learn to stay open to learning more and more often, even in the face of conflict.
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Do you believe that if you punish someone you love with anger and withdrawal, they will change and be the way you want them to be? They may sometimes do what you want to avoid your anger or withdrawal, but they will not love you more - you cannot control their love. Today, remember why you love them.
By Dr. Margaret Paul