Winner: 2014’s Other Perspectives of the Year

Uh. Be careful with this one. A lot of people will misinterpret this. This doesn’t mean we coach our partners to improve. It means we will show tolerance and patience as a way of helping them to become who they really are. But ‘improvement’ is what a lot of us start out thinking in our marriages.

My ex-wife and I each saw unrealized potential in each other that was really there. And so we lovingly urged each other to realize it. We were totally well-intentioned. But, by doing that, what we’re essentially saying to each other was, “You’re not okay the way you are.” Ouch. That was not what we really meant.

None of us ever really ‘makes’ anyone else better. We can offer resources and wisdom, but people grow at their own pace. In the relationship I had after my wife, I knew better than to wake up, look at her, and think: wow you have so much incredible potential that I want to help you realize.

By then I was wiser. Instead of ignoring who she already was, I was more aware of who both of us were. And doing that, I woke up and thought, ‘Wow I cannot believe how patient and dedicated you are to put up with all of my unrealized potential, not to mention my ways of being. I’m so grateful that you put up with me, that I want to help you with whatever you want to do.’ As long as that isn’t done from some subservient idea of ourselves, that’s a good way to have a growth-positive relationship.

That meant I had questions and not suggestions. I was looking for direction not to give direction. It was much more peaceful and much more actively loving. And yet as close as it was, it left lots of room for each of us. What’s healthiest is two people who are independent enough to be able to choose to be together in a context where neither one feels that they would fail without the other person.

Healthy relationships aren’t about pulling people out of holes. But holes are an inevitable part of life. A healthy relationship means that, if one person is in a hole, the other person will get down there with them to help find a way out. And that happens because level-headed people have their feet firmly on the ground. That means they can occasionally put their partners on their shoulders, and together they can go higher than either can alone.

That added height; the growth that emerges out of that shared commitment, is why it’s a good idea to ask your partner what they really want to accomplish. And then give them a hand. The odds are it’ll be good for both of you. 😉

peace. s

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