What is the goal of your relationship?
People use all kinds of different measures to asses their relationship, and we can choose any number of relationship goals for ourselves:
- How often are we having sex?
- How is the communication?
- Do we love each other?
- Do we feel understood?
- Am I getting my needs met?
…and so on.
None of these are bad assessment tools, and each holds value for a facet of the relationship, but there’s one fundamental way of seeing ourselves in relationship, one particular relationship goal that gives us crucial information and always sets us on the right path. It’s this –
Your sense of personal integrity.
Relationship goals: Personal integrity is the key to growth in relationships
My clients often report being confused or frustrated at trying to correctly meet their partner’s needs, trying to implement new communication tools, and generally trying to “get it right” amidst a sea of moving parts. It’s true that relationships ask much of us, and that we are called upon to develop greater relational skillfulness, but we can always return to one simple guiding principle for clarity and vision.
Ask yourself, “Am I being the person I want to be in this relationship?”
You can also ask yourself –
What am I feeling?
What do I want?
Are my strategies working?
Am I communicating clearly and honestly?
Do I respect my own behaviour?
Am I living my values?
Have I lost myself in this relationship?
This is your North star, your single best compass. Come back to this when you get lost along the way.
This sort of integrity means being accountable to yourself. It doesn’t matter so much what your partner thinks of you if you are not connected strongly to your own thoughts and feelings about yourself and about how you behave in the relationship.
Even when you are trying to decide whether to stay in a relationship or end it (perhaps especially in this case), your sense of personal integrity is a crucial guide.
Relationship goals: Be honest, be wise, be kind
One of my mentors lived by the credo “Be honest, be wise, be kind”. This was his guiding principle, and it illustrates the potential complexity of personal integrity. These three directives – being honest, being wise, being kind – are sometimes in conflict with each other, and we must wrestle with the tension that arises between them.
There is no simple formula for defining or attaining personal integrity; we must continually find our way through our inner conflicts and confusions. If we do not focus on this, our inner conflicts will certainly be projected onto our partner and our relationship, becoming outer conflicts, and the situation becomes even more dire and confusing. Break through the confusion by bringing your attention back to your thoughts and feelings about yourself, and how you behave in the relationship.
If there is work to do, do it there first. It will never lead you wrong.
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