How far can you afford to bend your values to preserve your relationship? How far can you go in giving yourself up to avoid losing your partner? How much of yourself can you afford to sacrifice to not lose someone you love? How do we find the balance between maintaining our integrity and bending our values?
Most relationships require us to bend to a certain extent, but how much can we bend without a sense of loss of self?
There is an inherent paradox in these questions: A truly loving relationship is a relationship where each person accepts and even values the differences between them. If you have to excessively bend your values to preserve the relationship, what are you preserving? You are not preserving a loving relationship since love does not demand that you excessively bend your values.
Rather than look at relationship in terms of bending values to accommodate another person, let's look at it in terms of each person learning and growing as a result of their differences in values.
For example, Patricia is a highly responsible person with a strong work ethic, while Sam tends to let things go a lot, which results in an imbalance regarding financial responsibility in the relationship. Patricia is not happy about this. Does she just accept these differences to preserve the relationship? No! That is not what a good relationship is about. Since a good relationship is about each person learning and growing from their differences, rather than one or both people giving themselves up, Sam and Patricia need to engage in open explorations about their differences. They each have beliefs that can be explored, and in this process, new learning occurs that leads to intrinsic change, rather than superficial compromise.
The real problem occurs when one or both partners are not available for exploration and learning. If one partner says, "Just accept me the way I am," or gets angry or withdrawn when the other partner attempts to discuss the situation, no learning can take place. Then the other partner either has to accommodate or leave - not a healthy situation.
Joe is extremely neat, while Julia has a hard time putting things away. Roberta is always on time while Cecelia is always late. Maggie is a spender while David is a saver. Carl has a high sex drive while Andrea has a low sex drive. Angie is an authoritarian parent while Curt is a permissive parent. Ronald is highly social while Greg is a homebody. Depending upon whether or not each person is open to learning, these differences can lead to:
• Constant conflict
• One partner giving in to avoid conflict
• Both partners opening to learning and growing as a result of their differences
The outcome of these conflicts depend entirely upon intent. In the Inner Bonding process, there are only two possible intents in any given moment:
• The intent to protect against pain
• The intent to learn about loving oneself and each other