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November 3, 2015

Is it about We, or Me?

shutterstock_207585418This is the ultimate challenge for those wanting a truly great relationship—how do I remain “me” while having a deep, intimate relationship with “you”?
(John & Linda Friel, The 7 Best Things Happy Couples Do)

Far too often, it seems like we married folks are facing a choice—pursuing a better “we” or pursuing a better “me.” The pursuit of “we” can feel self-suffocating, especially when it seems like, in order to keep the relationship connected, we’re giving up more than our spouse is. The pursuit of “me” can feel selfish, like doing what’s best for me is antithetical to the whole idea of being married in the first place.

I see a lot of marriages where one spouse does more “me,” and the other does more “we.” What gets lost in the mess is how the whole choice is a false dichotomy. It’s not an either/or—the best spouses find a way to strengthen their selves, and their marriages, at the same time.

It all starts with a different pronoun. The way forward is neither “me” nor “we”; the way forward is a strong “I”. As in “I’m choosing to go out with my friends one night this week, because doing so helps me be more fully present with you the other six.” Or “I’m choosing to not go out with my friends tonight because I really just wanna be with you.”

Or, how about this one: “I apologize for my harsh words in our recent fight,” (even if your partner hasn’t done so first).

Or, if you dare: “I know we’ve got a lot going on, but I can’t help it: I’ve been thinking all day about kissing you all night…”

These “I”s, pronounced with both strength and humility, have an amazing way of inviting reciprocal “I”s in return…

(Yes, that’s the sound of baby-making music in the background.)

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