Transition from “I” to “We”
Prior to entering a committed relationship, when making decisions, you have always used the word “I”…”I decided to buy a house”; “I cannot wait until I go on vacation”, etc. Before God created Eve as Adam’s partner, it is most likely he referred to everything he did as “I” because there was no “We” until she was formed. This must have been a challenging transition for Adam to begin recognizing that their togetherness meant they needed to begin using the word “We” when it comes to decision-making. This denotes a relationship where two people have formed a depth of connection that supports a sense of shared identity. The transition that takes place in a committed relationship develops into a We-Ness; moving from individual goals to developing a view of the future based on joint outcomes.
The individual no longer seeks individual gains, but something for “us” as a team. Caryl Rusbult, an influential scholar in the field of commitment refined a theory of interdependence. Interdependence focus is one’s individual goals in life and does not encompass another person’s weigh in. Ms. Rosbult’ early work focused on how commitment developed in relationships with a deepening desire for a future with a partner. The moment an individual decides to enter into a committed intimate relationship, the couple identity transitions the relationship as a team, in contrast of two separate individuals.
When a relationship is identified as “healthy”, we-ness is beneficial in identifying and accomplishing shared goals. When we-ness is used, it identifies equality and completeness in a relationship. Decisions and compromises are made together for the benefit of your relationship. It may also indicate that without your partner, you do not feel whole. However, if you are challenged by the transition from using “I” to “We”, it is imperative to take a step back and evaluate your readiness of a committed relationship. This does not mean that you cannot engage in individual activities or make individual decisions, however anything that affects your partner must be discussed with him/her.
“Two perfect partners rarely join as one, but two imperfect partners can get pretty far in life if they nurture the sense of ‘us with a future’” Scott Stanley, Ph.D.
In my practice working with couples, it is evident that many couples refer to their individual goals rather than working as a team to create shared goals. Couples that are able to gain awareness of this and place concerted efforts towards shifting their mindset to “we” instead of “I” have peace, harmony, and togetherness.