Most people operate from the perspective of “I come first” and the couple relationship comes second. We often prioritize our needs before the needs of our relationship. This works temporarily at the individual level because it seems less risky and easier to depend on yourself. However, when we see our partner operating from this individualistic perspective, we feel forgotten, neglected and uncared for!
The problem here is that autonomy is often confused with the only alternative being dependency. In our culture, dependency is seen as a weakness. Yet, we are innately social being and the happiest relationships involve ones with a shared mutuality.
Healthy mutuality in a relationship involves making a commitment to each other that the relationship is just as important as each individual person. It involves committing to understanding and being willing to meet each other’s needs in ways that work for both partners.
The first step towards mutuality in being willing and open to sit down and listen to what your partner needs. Then, figuring out together a way to give this to the other partner with out compromising what is also most important to you in your life. By sharing what is important to you as well, will provide the relationship with the opportunity for mutual agreements that involve small compromises. Small compromises allow you to still be you while making sure your partner is satisfied and happy in the relationship.
To learn more about shared mutuality in couple relationships I recommend reading Wired for Love by author Stan Tatkin.