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Winning Is A Losing Battle

photo by timsamoff via PhotoRee

Is your relationship riddled with disagreements, a constant need to defeat your spouse, or just old-fashioned competition? An article written by Jeffrey Rubin, Ph.D., cites a need to “win” as the number one cause for divorce and loss of intimacy.

Love is not about victory for one, defeat for another, but the triumph of the union. The alternative to winning is really hearing where your partner is coming from and what she is upset about. Striving to understand doesn’t mean you agree with your partner or let go of what you value–only that you take his or her feelings seriously.

This reminds me of something Joseph Campbell wrote in An Open Life, “Marriage is an ordeal.  It means yielding time and again.  That’s why it’s a sacrament.  You give up your personal simplicity to participate in a relationship, and when you are giving, you are not giving to the other person, you are giving to the relationship.  And if you realize that you are in the relationship just as the other person is, then it becomes life-building; a life fostering and enriching experience, not an impoverishment, because you are giving to somebody else.  This is the challenge of a marriage.  What a beautiful thing is a life together; is growing personalities.  Each helping the other to flower, rather than just moving into the standard archetype.  It’s a wonderful moment when people can make the decision to be quite astonishing and unexpected, rather than to become cookie-mold products.  Failure to recognize that is the main reason for the high divorce rate that we experience today.”

To read the rest of Jeffery Rubin’s article, click here. To purchase a copy of Joseph Campbell’s book, click here.


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  • I explore this and related topics about intimacy and flourishing at greater length and in more detail in the recently published The Art of Flourishing: A New East-West Approach to Staying Sane and Finding Love in an Insane World (Crown, 2011).
    Jeffrey B. Rubin, Ph.D. (drjeffreyrubin.com)