Give without keeping score.
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HOW YOU CAN PUT IT INTO PRACTICE
Once the early stages of romantic love start to fade, it is inevitable that any couple (who stays together long enough!) will enter into a power struggle. Some couples seem to spend much of their entire lives in one long, frustrating power struggle. Other couples separate or divorce because power struggles feel exhausting and painful, and it seems impossible to get their needs met within the relationship. It’s true — even if our egos get a rush of adrenaline and give us the illusion of “liking” power struggles, they are no fun for anyone and never actually get us what we really want or need!
One common pattern that shows up in a power struggle is that people start keeping score of who does more. Then, as a result, they start holding back their kindness, love, affection, support, and so forth until their partner steps forward to give to them. Before long, both partners are holding back on all of the love they have to share. Needless to say, this decreases connection and increases tension, disappointment, and discouragement.
Many years ago, we attended an incredible workshop led by Tony Robbins. He mentioned something about levels of relationship, and it really resonated with both of us. We’ve since modified it a bit for our counseling/coaching practice and personal lives. We now use this model regularly with clients and daily with ourselves!
In our own relationship, we have a high level of commitment to operate at a level 3 relationship (see below), and we enthusiastically encourage you to do the same!
3 LEVELS OF RELATIONSHIP
LEVEL 1: I’ll take care of myself, and you take care of yourself.
While independence and taking responsibility for our own well-being are vitally healthy and important aspects of thriving relationships, in a level 1 partnership, it goes beyond the healthy amount. You may be co-existing, but you are hardly making life meaningful and magical together. It is a relationship that, at best, can be summed up as “1 + 1= 2.” In a level 3 relationship 1 + 1 = so much more than 2!
LEVEL 2: Keeping score. I’ll help you if you help me.
An example of a level 2 relationship would be one in which you hold back on the very things you know would create connection or delight your partner because they are not doing those things for you. While teamwork, mutuality, and doing our fair share are incredibly important aspects to a thriving relationship, in a level 2 partnership, things become grid-locked, and stubbornness or being “right” take precedence over being happy and connected.
LEVEL 3: Delighting in a continual stream of loving service and support. Making your beloved’s needs as important as your own.
We have seen countless times how, when one partner resumes their uninhibited flow of joyously contributing to their partner, through words, actions, touch, positive energy, affirming support, and so forth, it creates a whole new energy of warmth and closeness and reignites the spark!
If you want a heart-centered relationship that expands love, brings out the best in each of you, and allows you to do more, be more, and enjoy more than you ever could on your own, level 3 is where it’s at. Any small loving action can create the shift that gets you back on track! May you recommit to operating at this level, and take inspired action on it today!