Princess Diana caught the hearts of many when she said, “There were three people in this marriage from the start.” Anyone who had ever lived with someone whose attention was focussed elsewhere was able to relate to the comment.
It can be difficult for some couples to recognise that there are two people in their relationship. Sometimes, it can seem that there’s a third party, or there’s only one person who matters. And sometimes, the partners don’t see each other as people at all.
In “Why God is Laughing,” Deepak Chopra suggests that many difficulties in relationships are caused by us taking up a position where we are right and the other person is wrong, and that the solution is to let go of the need to be right. Holding out that we are right assumes that we know everything there is to know about a situation and the other people in our lives and that things are how they are and cannot change.
Letting go of the need to be right is another way of taking responsibility for ourselves. It affords us an opportunity to see ourselves and others as we really are, and not just the image or illusion that we present to the world. We may see our partner as strong and capable of looking after us, and in buying into that, we ignore their frailties and vulnerability, and ignore too our own strengths. We may be afraid of our partner’s anger, and fail to see the fear behind it. We may see our partner as controlling and ignore our own power and freedom to choose for ourselves.
When we are willing to let go of how we see ourselves and others, and the illusions and assumptions we make about them, we make space for seeing something different. We make space for them to grow into something different, and for ourselves to be all of who we are.
There are two people in the relationship. Underneath the illusions, there are two people trying to find happiness, two people trying to have their needs met. And two people who have felt fear and sadness and alone.