Co-Create An Extraordinary Marriage Through Unselfish Love
So much of unhappiness in marriage is caused by the simple failure to meet one another’s unique love needs. We live in a culture of self-centered love. This fundamental insight came to me after 28 years doing marriage therapy and watching couples change so slowly. It led to me finally deciding to develop a new approach in 2010, Relationship Co-Coaching, and over the last five years I’ve seen couples make remarkable change never seen before in my practice.
One of the key principles of this approach is mutual commitment to a relationship based on altruistic love. When “stuck” partners try to consciously love one another more unselfishly real change often begins to occur. The importance of altruistic love is also supported by research findings that indicate couples showing unselfish love have happier relationships. So, would you like more vitality in your marriage and deeper love connection? Then use this simple, powerful relationship principle to achieve a truly extraordinary relationship!
Core Principle: Consciously Fulfill Love Needs Using Unselfish Love
Make the commitment to a relationship built upon unselfish rather than self–centered love. Talk with your spouse and make it the intentional purpose of your marriage to meeting one another's love needs, defined as what you need to feel deeply loved or happy in the relationship. Then follow these steps to identify each of your love needs:
1. Engage in an extended, deep conversation to explore what each of you needs to feel more deeply loved or happier in the relationship.
2. Be specific! Define what those things are in clear, unambiguous language. For example, one common love need for women is for their husbands to be a better listener—often defined more specifically as don't look at your cell phone, have full eye contact with me, don’t try to fix or solve the problem, and show empathy.
3. Remember these needs may be very different for each person.
4. Write down one another’s love needs and make a concerted effort to meet those needs on a daily basis to bring a new level of love and happiness in your relationship!
Example: What Altruistic Love Can Do For A Relationship
To illustrate the tremendous impact unselfish love can have on a relationship the following case example is offered (taken from Relationship Co-Coaching: A New Approach To Deeper Love, Less Conflict) and includes spontaneous comments made by clients during a therapy session:
The Thermostat Story
In their seventh session a couple described how the husband practiced unselfish love for his wife in what they referred to as The Thermostat Story. It was summertime and they were having an argument about how he wanted the thermostat set at 68° while she wanted it at 72°. He said, “I’m normally contradictory and bull-headed, but I decided to really listen to her need more carefully.“ After hearing her reasoning, he decided to act unselfishly. He told her that it seemed that it was a more important need to her than it was to him, so he was going to go with her desire. She said at that moment it touched her so much she cried and said:
“Maybe you do love me. You tell me you do all the time but don’t show it; this time I felt it. It felt so different; all my resistance fell away because you were thinking of me.”
He responded saying: “I want to get good at showing you!”
She gave further positives about the change he was showing at home with both her and the children in listening to their needs and being less impatient or angry. He responded in an exceptionally articulate way:
“It’s enlightening to be in a relationship and approach day-to-day conflict with the idea of what your partner’s needs are, thinking unselfishly about the other person’s needs.“
Take Action—Make Altruistic Love a Mutual Commitment!
Use the fundamental principle of unselfish love to help build and maintain a really great marriage over the course of a lifetime. For more in-depth information about this approach and self-help exercises see: Relationship Co-Coaching: A New Approach To Deeper Love, Less Conflict.
Timothy J. McCarthy, PhD, is a Psychologist and Marriage Therapist-Coach, speaker, and author of Relationship Co-Coaching: A New Approach To Deeper Love, Less Conflict. To learn more about Tim visit his website.