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Mutuality is the Core of a Peaceful Relationship

Two cats entwinedPHIL: One view of relationships is that they have a competitive element. They trade in currencies like love, chores, sex, money and compliments, and people maneuver to get the best possible deal. But you can instead throw away all those price tickets and live differently.

We use mutuality to describe the sense of being in our relationship. Like many senses, it’s difficult to express in words, yet, like many other senses and feelings, the more we articulate it, the more it comes into view.

From the moment we came together, we never acted with hostility or defensiveness because we never needed to (and didn’t want to, either.) We never felt there was anything to defend because nothing was being taken from us; neither of us was making any attempt to mold the other into being different. Of course, it helps when your partner is already pretty much what you are looking for, and you have to ignore any impulses that things must be a certain way. (Just think of the relief at letting go of the obligations of supervising someone else.)

So when we have a difference to resolve, we bring the same attitudes to bear: we leave out hostility and defensiveness. Think of it this way: we’re in a relationship, and we’re going to reach a solution. (If not – boom! No more relationship.) There are multiple paths to get there, many involving battles, screaming, crying and pain. Knowing that the solution exists, we avoid those paths and explore other routes until we reach that solution. Trust us, it works.

Repeated time after time, this experience of finding mutual agreement becomes easier to recognize and creates an ever-stronger sense of us, the relationship as a tangible thing. It’s not tangible in the sense that a software engineer says “If you can kick it, it’s hardware,” but it exists, it is a part of our lives, it is a shared sense, it is the mutuality of our relationship. We dwell within it.

MAUDE: At the heart of our relationship is a process we use to ascertain and co-create mutuality when finding solutions and making decisions together. It is a method that employs many different components of communication. These include a shared respect and honoring for our separate individualities, combined with a commitment to each other, to knowing we are on the same side, and most importantly a commitment to be relational, to find the answer that comes from the ‘we’.

We have never approached each other with hostility or a need to be defended. We are not trying to be right or to win. When you are committed to a place of reciprocity, to solutions which are mutual, then winning is not defined as standing alone, of getting your own way, as though your way were juxtaposed to your partner’s.

In this zone of mutuality, both of you can be happy without giving up the essence of what you want and need. The process helps you explore this with each other and share with each other what that essence you seek is. We have written about this process in other blogs and in our latest book: How Two: Have a Successful Relationship.

The more you practice finding and experiencing these co-created answers to decisions, the more pleasurable it becomes. Over time, it has a cumulative effect of transformation on your relationship. You experience that you are being heard, that you are respected, that you will not be attacked for who you are or what you want, that you and your partner are in consonance at the core of your togetherness. You come to know through repeated experience that both of you are truly committed to the relationship and to supporting each other as individuals.

This experiential knowing is at the very heart of a peaceful relationship, a peace that is gained from the repeated experience of finding and co-creating mutuality. It grows and becomes a well of strength and relaxation, a source of calm and confidence.

We, Phil and Maude, live and express our relationship in this state of peace, and the only variance is that each time we need to find a solution, we seek what the specific components of it are. Our route from our own unique answers to this place of harmony is by now a well-trodden path. It is a path we walk with great joy and the assurance of an unknown and new result, one that will bring gladness to both of us. We know too, that this way is never a challenge to either of our individual paths.

We hope that you too will venture into this rewarding and fruitful way of being in relationship. You can co-create peace in your own life, and the result is so powerful that it will spread by its very nature far and wide.

Photo Credit: Jane Jacobs

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfIn this week's blog, we said that mutuality is the core of a peaceful relationship. Here are some articles that talk about this from differing points of view.

The Principle of Mutuality in Relationships "There is a universal rule or principle that, if properly practiced and adhered to in every layer of societies, will bring about peace, prosperity and justice for all. This principle is called the principle of mutuality. Elsewhere in the scriptures, it is also known as the Golden Rule or “do unto others as you would want others to do unto you”."

The Meaning of Mutuality (pdf) "Delineation of different kinds of relationships becomes important as a way of understanding what people are seeking in relationships and why certain relationships are a source of joy and meaning, while others become deadening and destructive. People often speak of the search for mutuality in relationship as a goal in their lives, particularly in dyadic love relationships."

True Mutuality: ​The Key to Creating Healthy Relationships "Ultimately, this is all about boundaries. And healthy relationships come when we draw and maintain those healthy boundaries. In positive relationships, we carry mutuality within us. We balance care for another person’s goals while still caring about our own goals. We balance respect for others while respecting ourselves."


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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