Most unhappy marriages are two-somes; there’s me, there’s you, and that’s it. We probably argue a lot, because there’s my wants and needs and your wants and needs and nothing else—nothing to keep us from competing all the time. I need to make sure that I get what I need, and you don’t take it all.
On the other hand, most happy marriages are three-somes—the same me, the same you, plus of course the same wants and needs we each have. What distinguishes happy marriages from unhappy ones, however, is the presence of the additional element that creates the three-some—we. I, you, and we.
“We” is our sharing what we have together. “We” is what each of us points to as worthwhile, when the relationship is working. “We” is also what we have nothing of except resentment and pain, when each of us is tempted to leave.
Keep the “we” in mind—and in your heart—and feed it regularly with shared times that please you both and give you both meaning.
One way that both of you can keep “we” in the foreground of your attention is to approach decisions, differences and potential conflicts with the formula “I want, you want, we need.”
Keep each element of the three-some in mind when you are dealing with differences. For example, “I want to drive straight home. You want to stop along the way.
We need a speedy drive home and an out-of-the-car experience, too. How about if we stop at that road side farm stand, buy some vegetables for home and eat a snack at one of their picnic benches? Then we can both feel good about the trip.”