“The most empowering relationships are those in which each partner lifts the other to a higher possession of their own being.” – Teilhard de Chardin.
Wow! This quote really sums it up. Not only does it describe my own philosophy regarding relationships, but it succinctly states the findings of multiple studies and surveys on satisfaction in marriage and other intimate partner relationships. I find it incredibly sad that this concept is so foreign to so many people, as they enter and live out unhealthy dynamics between them and their partner. Large numbers of the people, whom I see in my work, engage in consistent actions that indicate a deep-seated belief that their partner is in the relationship only as a compliment to that person’s life. A healthy belief is that both people are in the relationship to help each other fulfill their potentials as individuals, while building together a relationship, a third entity between them, that nurtures both of them. Perhaps that would be an important idea for all of us to consider deeply, whether we are currently in an intimate-partner relationship or contemplating one in the future. For those with a history of failed relationships, this could be a good template for assessing the components that contributed to the failures.
Of course, most of us can more readily see how our partner is missing the mark, than how we may be missing it as well. When we think about growing, maturing in ourselves and about what we bring to relationship, I cannot think of a better standard to measure our progress, than whether we are able to think less about what we want for ourselves, and more about what the relationship needs. No one can bring to relationship the attention needed to make it a strong and nurturing place for the participants, so long as he is diverting so much attention to his own wants, that there is too little left for what the relationship must have, in order for each person to find it place of comfort and enrichment.