Like an individual, a couple can pursue power and money, or at the very least security and comfort. Love gets left behind because it won’t bring material rewards, at least not as clearly as unloving tactics will.
Money and power require toughness, the willingness to fight for what you want. You are better off having a killer instinct, not a loving heart, if you pursue these things. Security and comfort also require looking out for number one. In this case one has become two; nothing else has changed.
How many couples bond together by forming a “we” that is just a stronger, tougher version of “me”? We can’t be surprised when this happens. If survival is paramount in a dangerous world, two are better at it than one.
Undoubtedly mutual ego needs have a place in every relationship. The real problem occurs when they obliterate the tender growth of love in its spiritual aspect. Long before we fall in love, we know more than enough about our needs. Acquiring an ally to fulfill them isn’t the same as getting free from them. Only love can free us, because its truth is an antidote to fear.
The exhilaration of falling in love is an escape from ego, its sense of threat, and its selfishness. This escape is what we really want. Whatever rewards it brings, the ego cannot do two things: it cannot abolish fear, since ego is founded on fear; and it cannot create love, since ego by definition shuts out love.
The reason that ego and love are not compatible comes down to this: You cannot take your ego into the unknown, where love wants to lead. Love will make your feelings ambiguous, and the ego wants to feel the certainty of right and wrong. However, uncertainty is the basis of life.
Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).