“All suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness and satisfaction.” – Dalai Lama
Today we live in a world that is largely focused on ourselves. We have the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod, which all revolve around “I”. This is a result of a society focused on ourselves rather than others. We are given the impression that we should focus more on OUR feelings, OUR desires, OUR goals, and having more, instead of giving focus to others, how they feel, how we can contribute to the world, and appreciating what we do have. If there ever was a word that is the opposite of love, it is selfishness. Unfortunately, many of us selfishness is something that is ingrained in each of us and it shows up regularly in how we treat each other.
This selfishness, in being focused mainly on ourselves, is also the source of all suffering. If you look into yourself in all of the things that cause you pain, you will see that you are focusing on yourself. However, there is never a situation where there is only one side. There is always more than one perspective. Yet it takes love and compassion, and the desire to make the relationship more important than the individual, to step back and let go of our own desire to be right in order to be able to seek an objective appraisal of the situation.
Whenever an individual puts their own interests, desires, wants, and needs in front of their mate, they are being selfish. If you think back to when you first started dating your spouse and you truly fell in love with the other person, how often did you choose to not go with friends or do other things that you might have otherwise engaged in just to be with your spouse? In the beginning of our relationships, we do this naturally. However, over time, as we begin to no longer give value to that that we appreciate about our spouses we begin to go back to thoughts of “me” instead of “we”.
People who truly love each other and put their love first will go out of their way to find all of the great things about the person that they are in love with. It is a choice.
As you search yourself for all of the things that you did in the beginning, you will see that there was nothing that you wouldn’t initially do for the person that you love. You spoke non-stop about how great they were, how talented they were, and you longed for every moment that you could spend with them. Yet, after a time of being together, the study and desire lessened simply because you were no longer giving focus to how great they are. The longer that this focus is missing, the more that selfishness and expectations creep in. This can lead to trading love only when they act in certain ways or in hopes of getting something in return rather than simply giving it unconditionally.
Not being selfish is a choice, just like choosing to unconditionally love is a choice. It is choosing to put the quality of the relationship above your independent desires and wants. It is a personal choice to put what is good for the relationship as the highest priority, and force yourself to begin thinking in terms of “we” not just “me”.
In Stephen Covey’s book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families”, he discusses the concept of “Thinking win-win”. This type of thinking suggests that in order for people to have truly found a winning solution, it MUST be a win for both parties. This is an example of “we” not “me” thinking. It suggests that in order for it to be a win for me, it must also be a win for you because we are connected.
In our marriages, anytime our spouse in not happy, we too are not happy because our lives are so connected. Therefore, in order to create a truly Spectacular Marriage, we must develop “we” thinking. This requires a different set of skills, like learning how to listen differently. Most people listen to respond instead of listening to learn about their partner. You must also learn how to seek to understand your spouse before you seek to be understood. But all of these skills can be learned. And they MUST be learned if you want your marriage to be truly spectacular.
This takes an immense amount of faith and courage to create the type of relationship that you desire. The ego is a very powerful thing. It compels each of us to do things in its own self-interest. However, we must be willing to seek beyond only our own interests and only become satisfied when the lives you are creating are a win for the entire team. The moment you decided to become married was the moment you chose to leave any feelings of self-only considerations behind. You must remember always that you are part of a team, that by choice, cannot be divided. Therefore, the only way to think then is in terms of thinking “we” not “me”.
To assist you in developing and expanding this way of thinking we invite you to participate in an exercise that will strengthen that muscle.
To do this, you will need to seek out and do something for your spouse that is out of the ordinary that shows that you are specifically thinking of them and putting their needs before your own. What is something that would demonstrate CLEARLY to your spouse that their needs are your needs? Find it, do it, and then continue to seek this approach as you go forward in your marriage relationship. When you seek a win-win in your relationships and think in terms of what is best for “we” instead of “me”, Spectacular Marriages are created.