When I was in my early 20s and was already thinking about dating for marriage, I thought making my relationship work meant that I had to marry someone who loved the show the Simpsons just as much as I do AND also loved the Beastie Boys.
Once I realized this was not the case, I started to tell people early on in my marriage that I knew I was ready to get married when I realized that life was not all about the Simpsons.
When I met my husband he did not fit the image of the person I thought I wanted to marry. I used to date the guys that were into the same or similar music as me or who were a bit insecure. I saw the potential in who they were (that’s what I do naturally), and I thought that I could be the one to help (read: save) them. In my journey to real love and marriage, which included many discussions with my good friends, one friend exclaimed to me, if you want to help these guys be there therapist or coach, don’t marry them! That really woke me up.
Now let’s get back to when I met my husband.
I knew on our very first date that he had all the qualities that I was looking for in a partner. (I know, I know, very cliche, but it’s true.) My problem was the second date, and what lasted for a few long weeks after we met. Because he did not fit the image of the guy I was usually drawn to, I was confused and unsure about whether or not I wanted to continue dating him. After all, I was dating for marriage. This was serious stuff. Dating a guy who did not like the same (cool) music as me and who was kind, secure and super confident in himself was very new to me. Really.
Knowing that I had something great with this new kind of guy I was dating, and recognizing I was still confused about it, led me on my journey to understanding what real love and healthy relationships are and what really makes relationships work.
In my training and education toward becoming a professional social worker and coach I learned a lot about relationships. All of that training can be summed up in a cute story about the discussion I had with a good friend of mine before getting married to my husband (yes, I married the kind, secure, super confident, and might I add, humble, guy I mention above.) Throughout the time I was dating my now husband I wavered back and forth from time to time. I was still struggling a bit with my decision (although in my heart of hearts I always knew I wanted to marry him.) It was difficult for me (albeit less) to let go of the ‘image’ I had and who I was used to dating. In (half) jest, I said to my friend: “But he won’t dance in the fields with me!” She wisely responded: “Maybe not. But he will mow the field for you and make a great space for you to dance all you want.”
And there you have it. This is the truth. This is the real reason great relationships work. Not because you enjoy doing the same things. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. It’s great to enjoy doing the same things! It is just not the reason great relationships work.)
Great relationships work because you each respect what you each enjoy doing.
You each respect that each of you are each individuals with your own unique interests, gifts, strengths and personal goals. In relationships that work, each partner encourages the other to fulfill their unique interests, needs, and goals. When this is the relationship goal of each partner, each individual within that relationship, and the relationship itself, flourishes.
In my next blog post I will explore with you what qualities you want to be looking for in someone who can be a partner with you in creating great relationships. Stay tuned!
In support, admiration, and in awe of all that you are,