Purpose? Better Relationships Need Something More Basic …

May 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Relationship Space

It's all about love by Candida.Performa on Flickr

If you read self-development literature, you are left with the impression that if your life lacks a purpose then somehow you are failing yourself, your children, and the world. The message seems to be that if we don’t have a purpose we’re just not measuring up.

In the world of relationships, there are many expectations. In disillusioned relationships, much of the currency is in the form of unmet expectations.

So I’m reluctant to add having a purpose to the relationship “shoulds” that hang like boulders around our necks.

I figure that just like you learn to pick your battles with your adolescent children, there are other more important relationship “battles” to attack, than having a purpose!

To me, it is far more important for the relationship to nurture joy in the hearts of the participants, and deepen the connection with their souls than that there be any particular purpose!

What the hell does that mean?

On a daily basis I’d love to see partners:

  • saying “I Love You” in their partner’s Love Language
  • asking for forgiveness for causing hurt
  • making time to talk about more than just who’ll take out the rubbish
  • encouraging the other to be the best person they can be and providing the support to achieve it

The expectations that we bring to our relationships are unique, varied, and often arduous.  Among the couples I see, they tend to fall into these broad stereotypes.

  • Enduring love
  • Unstinting Fidelity
  • Blind support
  • Persistent attention to meeting needs
  • Children
  • Joint unified parenting
  • Physical and economic security
  • Regular sexual satisfaction
  • Equity and consensus in decision-making/problem solving
  • Equal contribution to household and external jobs/roles

These expectations eventually become the source of much of our conflict patterns.

Why? Because partners often have different definitions of these seemingly simple/obvious expectations.

With different definitions of all these supposedly mutual expectations, and in the absence of clear understanding by both parties, we set ourselves up for disillusionment and discontent and a multitude of fights!

When we’re in that early romantic phase of new love, neither party thinks it necessary to sit down and talk carefully or negotiate a clear understanding. And if it does occur to us to raise the topic, it can seem churlish or even pessimistic to try.

Of course this person I adore so much thinks only of pleasing me. Of course, we each have the other’s best interests at heart! Of course fidelity means the same thing to him as it does to me. Of course she understands my needs and will meet them with ease. Of course we have the same values, if we didn’t we’d never have fallen in love!

Do any of those sentences match your thinking way back at the beginning of your relationship?

Do you recall the first time you realised that your partner’s expectations didn’t quite match yours? Do you remember the sinking feeling as you realised that somewhere along the line a win/lose was heading down the track towards you both? Did you worry that it might be you who came off second best?

What happened? What is often the outcome of these simple oversights?

Disillusionment? Resentment? Blame?

All those and more!

Did either of you shoulder the responsibility for your contribution to the situation? Did either of you begin a conversation that might bridge the lack of understanding or begin to negotiate a new enlightened beginning?

Not many couples do, so if you said no then you’re not alone.

So let’s not get too worried about purpose when there are far more pressing issues in modern day relationships.

Even the best and most enduring relationships have episodes of disillusionment, resentment, blame and all manner of other negative feelings.

It’s what they do to heal the relationship after these toxic storms, that makes the difference between continuity and divorce!

So forget purpose!

Let’s get back to basics and start talking about important things.

Let’s accept that things have gone awry before, and will do again.  Let’s just face what we have here and now in our relationships. Let’s find ways to be more happy, have more fun, feel more love and nurture each other and the families we have around us.

That’s not just enough, that would be bloody sensational!

Photo Source: It’s all about love by Candida.Performa


3 Responses to “Purpose? Better Relationships Need Something More Basic …”
  1. Chania Girl says:

    I enjoyed this article, Chris, for the same reason I enjoyed Karen’s article this week: it takes purpose (with a capital P) and takes it off its pedestal. Enough the shoulds and the “have tos” and the great expectations. Let’s get back to basic, back to real. Relationships don’t have to be so complicated. Thank you for this! :D

  2. Thanks Chania
    I have no problem with things/people having a purpose as such. I just thing we’ve gone a bit overbaord and it’s hard enough being in a relationship without expecting usall to have a purpose.
    Love and connection will do me just fine!