A couple can have similar values, interests, and be very attracted to each other, yet still not have a loving relationship if this secret ingredient is missing. Without this essential ingredient, all the other wonderful attributes will make the relationship incomplete.
There are many factors that go into creating a loving relationship. It helps if two people in a relationship have some things in common. Be it how they like spending time with each other, the kind of food they enjoy, the habits they share or have common values around religion, spirituality, politics, environment, personal growth and so on. Physical attraction is also quite important. It’s great if they have common values around money and spending too.
Despite having common things, a couple can still not have a loving relationship if this one element is missing. Without this essential ingredient, all the other wonderful attributes will not be enough to make the relationship work.
This essential ingredient is called INTENTION.
The Power of Intention
At any given moment, each of us is devoted to only one of the two different intentions:
TO CONTROL OR TO LEARN.
When our intention is to control, our deepest motivation is to have control over getting love, avoiding pain and feeling safe. When our intention is to learn, our deepest motivation is to learn about being loving to ourselves and others.
The motivation to get love rather than be loving can create havoc within a relationship.
Let’s look at a typical relationship issue and see what happens with two varying intentions.
Parag and Jyoti are feeling emotionally distant from each other, and they haven’t made love in a month. The problem started when Jyoti stated that she wanted to take an expensive vacation and Parag objected. Jyoti got angry, Parag gave in and they have been distant ever since.
The Intention to Control
Jyoti’s intention was to have control over getting what she wanted. She equates an expensive vacation with love — if Parag does this for her, then he proves his love for her. She used her anger as a way to have control over getting what she wants. She wants control over feeling special to Jason.
Parag’s intention was to avoid pain. He gave himself up to have control over Jyoti not being angry with him. He hopes that by giving Jyoti what she wants, she will see him as a good and loving partner.
However, because both Parag and Jyoti were trying to control each other rather than be loving to themselves and each other, their interaction created emotional distance.
What would this have looked like if their intention had been to learn?
The Intention to Learn
If Jyoti’s intent had been to learn, she would not have gotten angry. Instead, she would have wanted to understand Parag’s objections. If Parag’s intention had been to learn, he would not have given himself up. Instead he would have wanted to understand why this particular vacation was so important to Jyoti.
Both Parag and Jyoti would have been caring about themselves and each other, rather than wanting to get love or avoid pain. In their mutual exploration about why they each felt the way they did, they would have learned what they needed to learn about themselves and each other to reach a win-win resolution.
Instead of Jyoti ostensibly winning and Parag losing, they would have come up with something both of them could live with. With some exploration of his financial fears, Parag might have decided that the vacation Jyoti wanted would be fine. With understanding of Parag’s financial concerns, and of her own need to feel special, Jyoti might have decided on a less expensive vacation. In either case, both of them would have felt fine about the outcome.
No matter how much Parag and Jyoti have in common or are attracted to each other, their love will diminish when their intent is to control rather than learn. It’s amazing how quickly love vanishes when one or both partners have the intent to control. It’s equally amazing how fast it comes back when both partners have the intent to learn. Through a consistent real and deeper connect practice, each person can gradually learn to stay open to learning more and more often, even in the face of a conflict.