If you were to describe a human relationship simply as one person plus another, you would receive little argument from anyone. It’s the way people think.
The way people ordinarily look at relationships can be described mathematically as 1+1 = 2. Remember the famous line from a movie “you complete me”? A relationship is one person added to or joined to another and makes a bigger, better, more whole person. The form and depth of the relationship is determined by the form and depth of the joining, but it is still 1+1 = 2.
What most fail to see is that the 1 + 1 way of looking at a relationship inevitably leads to credit and blame in relationships. When a relationship is going well, you tend to see that as 1 + 1, as both 1’s are adding to the relationship.
When a relationship is not going well, it must be that one of the 1’s is at fault. Mathematically, it’s 1 – 1 = 0. One of the 1’s is subtracting from the relationship and must be to blame for it not working. A soon as blame happens, the experience of being in relationship becomes missing.
When you take a moment to look, and you realize that no relationship escapes disappointments, upsets and frustrations, you’ll also realize that no relationship avoids blaming and fault-finding. It’s built in. It comes with the territory. One 1 will be blamed for what’s not working. It is inevitable. Blaming is inescapable in people’s common, automatic, 1 + 1 and 1 – 1 way of thinking of relationship.
If, however, you look from a different mathematical equation, 1 = 1 X 1, you will see relationship differently. With no addition or subtraction, it is difficult to assign credit or blame to one or the other. What happens in the relationship is not determined by one or the other. It is determined by how you are together.
It’s becomes likely that there is something in how you are together, something in the design of the relationship itself that you have been unaware of (while blindly blaming each other and yourselves), that is producing the upsets, disappointments and frustrations in your relationship.
To have a fulfilling relationship (the 1), you must be willing to uncover the concerns, the expectations and the focus of the 1 X 1 together.