Jhalli asks: Today I read this post, “Happy couple aren’t just the one posting kissing photos. They’re the ones having uncomfortable conversations, helping each other overcome trauma, and ugly-crying to save their relationship. Happy couples prioritize growth and are a source of inspiration for each other.” My question is what do these lines mean, and how can a couple prioritize growth and be a source of inspiration for each other? What should a couple do to gain it?
Hi Jhalli –
The funny thing about your question, Jhalli, is that you already do what that post is suggesting! It says that life is complex, and people are especially complex, and so, while the happy romantic times in a couple’s life are wonderful, what makes a truly, deeply happy couple is all that more difficult stuff. Like caring, communication, openness, vulnerability… in other words Work! Exactly what you do for yourself now, as I know because of the deep, insightful questions that you send me.
Imagine having a partner in life who wasn’t just sweet and cute and fun, but also listened when you said difficult things, and tried to help make it all better. And who told you when things were really tough for them. And when you two disagree, didn’t get mean or physically cruel, but strived to find a way that you two could both be happy and fulfilled.
That’s what “Prioritizing Growth” means. Putting growth ahead of convenience. Doing the hard work to make your partnership stronger and better, always.
This isn’t quite as intense a story as would happen in a human couple, but your question makes me think of an incident between Handsome and me. He’d been working on a huge project for three weeks, and would only come home to sleep a few hours a night. I was lonely and miserable through these long days. But finally, he got a day off to stay at home. I was thrilled. But what did he do with that time? Oh, he got to the three weeks of letters and bills and stuff he had been putting off. And kept ignoring me! Well I wasn’t going to take that!
He had this white couch, you see, and I wasn’t allowed to ever get onto it. Well, he was sitting there on the floor surrounded by piles of papers, and I stared at him till I caught his eye, and then slowly walked up and climbed right onto it! Saying to him in no uncertain terms, “Are you still going to ignore me now?!”
And he reacted just as I hoped – he yelled out and demanded I get off the couch, stared “angrily” at me for a second, and then said, “Yeah you’re right,” and took me outside to play fetch. It was a beautiful moment for both of us.
I needed the bravery to make that statement, and he needed the openness to receive it. Both were because we prioritized growth in our relationship.
And to the other part of your question, I think that’s automatic. If you help each other, and the relationship, grow, you’ll immediately inspire each other in other ways, constantly.
But as I started out by saying, this is the way you live already, for yourself. So what I’m pushing for is that you find someone equally curious and adventurous. And create a relationship worthy of you both.
I could wish you nothing greater!