When it comes to relationships, I want to pass on a life-changing secret a friend shared with me decades ago: “Your motive is everything.”
Heres’ what I’ve come to know: There cannot be peace, be it with another person or with ourselves, until we take an honest examination of our motives. (Motive is defined as a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.) And this is especially true when it comes to our relationships.
Often, we are swept into love because of what someone does for us. (As in “He makes me feel so safe!” Or “She makes me feel so wanted.”) And we’re immediately disheartened when those early-days butterflies fly south and receiving (inevitably) shifts into giving. Dontchya hate when that happens?
As I type this blog, I’m wondering if the not-so-simple secret to stronger relationships is to fall in love with giving rather than chasing the thrill of receiving. (Time out: I am by no means encouraging you to ignore yourself and your needs and feelings. That’s a sure-fire way to attract the worst kind of takers.) What I mean is this: What would happen if we put the motive to receive on the back burner, if even for a few hours, and took a good, hard look at our relationship with giving, with lifting up our friends and our partner above ourselves?
What would we find if we concentrated on how we feel when we aren’t on the receiving end? Is that an easy place to be or awkward? How long does it take before our attention snaps back to ourselves? And what about when there are arguments? How fast are we to offer forgiveness rather than collapse into the tantrum of needing to be right? And of what does our giving consist? This is an especially important question when there are children in the relationship. Are we dedicated and actively giving to our partner or have our children become the place we solely funnel our affections, leaving an emotionally starving and stranded mate?
As you chew on these questions, know that I’m also asking them of myself and have by no means figured it out. See, the thing is that it’s not ours to say if we’re doing a good job as a friend or a partner. That’s a question only they can accurately answer.