“Me too!” my curly-haired daughter and I yelled in unison while reading the silly cardboard book we picked up at the elementary school book sale. It was too fun not to scream it loudly. Besides, we wanted to make her brother laugh across the hall. It was our nightly comedy routine, at least in that quick chapter of their young lives.

In the book, the little girl’s mother performs an everyday feat and sure enough, her mini-me wants to do it too. No matter how grown-up the activity is, that gritty child is not going to be excluded. She is alive and present. Determined and willful.

When working with couples, I want to bring out that childhood book. I want to sing in unison, “me too!” Because somehow, in an intimate partnership, it becomes a delicate challenge.

It is often “no me.” You count, I don’t. You win, I lose. Your way, not mine. You are big, I stay small. You talk, I shut up. Until, of course, the resentment stacks in the corner of my heart and begins to smell like yesterday’s garbage. Then, just to stay alive, I’ll either get TOO BIG, or manipulative and sneaky or depressed and withdrawn. Thus, “no me” is not sustainable. It does not make for a healthy long-term relationship. Perhaps it is easier, at least for a while. But eventually, a price will be paid. An expense that could tank the whole relationship.

And then there is the reverse … “all me.” Bring in the grandiose, super-sized, need to be right and have the last word. I’m the steamroller to your pancake. The alpha. The non-yielder. The take-all-the-space. I might be happy in that I am the royal in the castle. But, at the end of the day, I am alone. No one calls me on my bullshit, makes me own my humanity. No one. reminds me that I put on my britches just like everyone else. That being messy and vulnerable is a lot more fun.

“Me too!” is a much better way to go. Alive and present. Determined and willful. Gritty enough to hold your own while yielding space for others to do the same. Staying grounded in me while being engaged with you. Protected and connected. That’s the ticket.

In unison now, “me too!”