A Common Theme in all Relationships

James Anthony Ellis
, Legacy Magazine

There are so many types of relationships.

  • Spouse
  • Mother / Child
  • Father / Child
  • Friend
  • Opponent
  • Coach
  • Teammate
  • Soulmate

With that, what can we say is a common theme or a basic foundation throughout these relationships?

Well, for sure a relationship indicates at least two entities taking part in some sort of communion. A polarizing dance of “us and them,” “them and them,” “us and us” or “me and you.”

In the case of relationships that can be defined as “successful,” I tend to think of one phrase that creates the context that would raise the two to a higher place.

One phrase.

“It’s not about me.” 

That one magic phrase can take a relationship to a whole new level. It’s a place that transcends the two distinct personalities that may battle it out for “their side” and point the two in one direction, held sacred or important to both equally.

That’s a mouthful.

What do I mean?

When we are in any sort of relationship, we may have strong desires, needs, wants, opinions and strategies to get what we want out of it. We may even find ourselves battling with another to get our own needs met.

But this path may swiftly lead to isolation as the one fighting for his or her rights and viewpoints may land themselves in the individual-level reality they demanded. A person who only considers himself or herself may truly only be in a relationship with themselves and ultimately stand alone with no real connection with the “other” who is part of the partnership. And the “relationship” will be over … if it ever began.

This does not mean that anyone within a relationship should toss away or separate from their individual needs. They must speak up about their participation, through clear, doable requests, followed by an open-minded receptivity for any sort of response. Both parties can discuss so-called “opposing needs” until the strategy that works for all arises. That takes time, patience, listening, faith, and an openness to a “third option.”

If someone acquiesces and discounts their part of the relationship dance, then they take the key phrase of “It’s not about me” to an obtuse level, making it all about the other person. Yeah, that doesn’t work either.

And neither does it work if the phrase of “It’s not about me” is applied to any responsibility you DO HAVE within the relationship and within yourself to co-create success. Even though it’s not about you, you still have to do your part. The part that is “about you,” is your actions, your responses and the effort you put into pursuing your best and the best for the relationship.

In this great balancing act – though we all have individual needs that must be addressed and though we want to create space for another in our lives, there is a higher way to observe any sort of relationship. This would be one which embraces the power and needs of a relationship above the individual needs of either party, above the level of the ego only.

Where does this sort of relationship show up?

  • In sports teams that work hard for a well-deserved trophy.
  • In Kobe and Shaq disliking each other but putting that aside when pushing for an NBA title.
  • In a mother or father who considers the well-being of the family and the kids over specific battle-lines.
  • In one of my experiences, guests at an ashram in India who start to fight and bicker over something trivial before remembering why they are there, finishing off with a respectful nod of higher purpose.
  • Any non-profit worker donating time for the health of a community.
  • Men’s team members finding the one meeting day that can work out for all rather than just what can work out for the individual with the loudest voice.

We have such an opportunity … when two or more are gathered.

Within relationships, we can fight it out and try so hard to get our way heard, our side seen, our needs met.

Or we can observe both parties from the level of relationship, almost as if we are guardian angels overseeing the well-being of the divine dance.

As referenced in “Wedding Song” by Paul Stookey … who is the loving for? What is the giving for? What are we doing here, within our relationships?

Could it be that “it’s not about me” and “it’s not about you?”

Is it just for the individual and the strong desires found there?

Or could it be about something else?

Well then what’s to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here, or love that brings you life?
For if loving is the answer then who’s the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you’ve never seen before?
There is love

Wedding Song, 1971

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