The Weekly Dream: Unselfish Selfishness
“How can two walk together unless they be agreed?”
On my open thread two weeks back, Garlin asked me to write about what to do when what is best for you is not necessarily what is best for the relationship. Now, this is a very interesting and sensitive subject that can be approached from different angles.
I am an economist by trade and economics is all about providing the proper incentives for people to do the right things. In a relationship, what is good for me should be good collectively. For instance, let’s look at work. If I get a promotion that I really wanted, it should be good for the both of us. There is more money, more opportunity but I have to work more or I must travel more. However, things get shaky on the home front. This kind of thing happens all the time and is a source of great frustration for both parties. On the one hand, the guy feels like his lady is not being supportive and she does not understand the sacrifices he makes to bring what he brings to the table. But the woman may feel like her emotional needs are not being met and that all he cares about is the job. It could also be the other way around where the guy feels neglected. In any event, we have a problem.
Money is another example. A lot of young ladies I meet want a certain lifestyle, but they also want a lot of attention from their significant other and you cannot have both. Why? Simple economics: Time is a scarce resource. I cannot “make moves” and “cake” at the same time.
Where Is The Love?
It comes a time in every ambitious young man or woman’s life where they are going to have deal with this issue. What is the source of this disconnect? Why is it that the other person does not understand where you are coming from? How did ambition become a curse? I believe the source of it is communication and buy-in.
My father always told me that you cannot spend and build an empire. This means that one person cannot build and another person is doing the complete opposite. Both people need to share the vision and work towards it. A lot of times, we get wrapped up in what is best for us. But, how does what is best for the individual fit into the collective vision?
Too often, couples fail to articulate or even define what they are working towards. As Jesus said, “Who undertakes a work without counting the cost?” Garlin likes to call this exercise setting and managing expectations. But essential to this process is a willingness to negotiate, compromise and cooperate. In the event that you cannot communicate or work through this mismatch of incentives, it may be best to go your separate ways, because not everyone is going to have compatible agendas.
On the hand, the other person just does not appreciate or is not into what you are into. I may love business and speaking, but my girl may not be that way. The question becomes what can you live with. Do you want a power couple dynamic or do you want someone who grounds you? You have to acknowledge how your partner is built.
But I do believe this: You can only make you happy. You can put your personal agenda to the side, but only to a certain extent. A lot of people cannot see the big picture, their eyes are shut and their eyes are deaf. So, you have to just plug ahead and hope that they will catch up. If you make a sacrifice that is too great, you may feel resentment and regret.
In a perfect world, we would always be on the level with our significant other. But that is not always the case. Hopefully, you have a foundation of trust, understanding and communication to get you through those times. However, we do have an obligation to communicate and to build our vision together.
Keep it real with yourself and your significant other.