Research into good marriages indicates that the most important choice healthy couples make is to have good will toward each other. This may seems like a simple requirement, yet many couples have anything but good will toward each other. Instead, they make it far more important to:
- Attempt to control each other with criticism, judgments, blame, anger, resistance, withdrawal, or compliance.
- Be right, win, and not be controlled by their partner rather than be open and loving.
- Make their partner responsible for their feelings rather than take responsibility for their own pain and joy.
- Numb out and avoid responsibility for themselves with various addictions that have a negative effect on the relationship, such as using alcohol, drugs, food, TV, gambling, work, and so on.
- Keep their eyes on their partner and what he or she is doing wrong or should do differently, rather than on themselves and whether or not they are coming from good will.
What does it mean to have good will? Good will means that:
- Kindness is more important to you than being right or controlling your partner - kindness toward both yourself and your partner.
- You care deeply about how your behavior affects yourself, your partner, and the relationship.
- You do whatever inner work you need to do to heal addictive behaviors that are causing problems in the relationship.
- You always have your own highest good and your partner's highest good at heart. You receive joy from supporting your partner in what bring him or her joy.
- You are open to learning from your conflicts about yourself and your partner.
- You are devoted to doing inner work to learn to take full responsibility for your own feelings of pain and joy rather than making your partner responsible for your feelings.
Good will does not necessarily mean being "nice." Niceness is often another form of control, since it often comes with an agenda: "If I am nice to you, you will be nice to me."
Good will has no agenda other than the desire to be a loving person. It is a decision that you make for yourself, not a choice that is dependent upon your partner's behavior.
One person being devoted to good will can have a huge positive effect on the relationship. When you decide that having good will is very important to you, you are on the road to not being reactive to your partner. Your lack of reactivity in conflict completely changes the relationship dynamic. Your partner's behavior will likely change toward more good will in the face of your kindness and lack of reactivity, but even if it doesn't, you will feel much better having good will than being angry, blaming, critical, compliant, or withdrawn.
One way of looking at maintaining good will is to see it as part of a spiritual journey. Learning to keep your heart open to kindness and caring TOWARD BOTH YOURSELF AND OTHERS is the essence of the spiritual journey. The kinder you are to yourself, the kinder you are able to be with your partner and others. The benefits of embracing good will as your primary way of being toward yourself go far beyond creating a healthy relationship with your partner and others. Your good will toward yourself is what leads to creating a healthy relationship with your Higher Power.
The ability to consistently show good will to yourself and others is a practice - not something that just happens. The more you practice Inner Bonding, the more you will naturally have good will toward yourself and others.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?" and “Healing Your Aloneness.” She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone sessions available.