On February 26th, the film La La Land, nominated in 14 categories, won six Academy Awards. Musicals have always been my favorite film genre, watching dance my favorite spectator entertainment. From Busby Berkeley through Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron to Gene Kelly and now Robert Fairchild, I feel the thrills of freedom and yearning in a dancer’s movements as I watch, a blessing from my mirroring neurons. I have been especially enthralled by the ways in which two dancers partnering can express love. But watching La La Land, in spite of all its charms, the note of love rang shallow to me, simply because the “us” failed to transcend the priority of the “me”.
One critical way to express love is to recognize that the couple itself becomes its own entity and that nourishing the relationship can be equally or more important than feeding each individual’s opportunities for growth. For many people, their most important growth can only come through learning to be a loving member of a relationship.
Earlier, I wrote about “Choosing” as a way of showing love. Today, I focus specifically on choosing the “we” over the “me” as a uniquely important way to send a message about loving. As someone whose love triumphed to overcome challenges of a long-distance relationship, I feel quite personally the potential positive power of addressing the needs of the couple as its own entity.
Collective societies such as India naturally put the welfare of the communal above that of the individual. In the West, we are far more likely to see the individual as the primary social unit. This sense of separation sets up a duality in which our connections to one another can take on a biased texture. “How does it affect me?” can easily replace “How are we doing?” A communal frame of mind can transform power struggles into cooperative efforts and help a love relationship thrive.
What can be prioritized for the couple? Almost anything – but first you need to ask:
How can two people accommodate their own needs and also those of their couple?
Be aware that some needs are developmentally determined. They will require adaptation as individual and family life cycles evolve. Nothing is more urgently demanding than a baby in the home. On the other hand, the time of infancy is amazingly brief and can offer its own unique rewards that will soon disappear.
Why does prioritizing the “we” show loving?
When have you put the benefits to the couple or family ahead of the wants and needs of the individuals? What did that choice do for the relationship? For each individual’s sense of connection? If one felt constrained, was a way discovered to satisfy the unmet need?
Copyright 2017 Roni Beth Tower